Jackson Hole  is packed with entertaining events almost every day of the year. Some of these are homegrown affairs such as the county fair, whereas others attract people from near and far.
Of particular note are the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race (IPSSSDR), the Pole-Pedal-Paddle Race, the Elk Antler Auction, the Grand Teton Music Festival, and the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival.
(In addition to the events listed, Grand Targhee Ski Resort  has a year-round calendar of events on the other side of the Tetons.)
December is a particularly beautiful time in downtown Jackson. Lights decorate the elk antler arches, and a variety of events take place. Buy arts and crafts during the Christmas Bazaar early in the month, or take the kids to visit Saint Nick and his elves on Town Square  starting in mid-December; they’re there daily 5-7 p.m.
Kick the year off by watching (or participating in) the annual torchlight ski parades at all three local ski areas. Parades take place on New Year’s Eve at Snow King (400 E. Snow King Ave., 307/733-5200 or 800/522-5464, www.snowking.com ) and New Year’s Day at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (307/733-2292 or 888/333-7766, www.jacksonhole.com ), where kids have a separate “glow worm” parade using glow sticks. Two parades occur at Grand Targhee Ski Resort  (in Alta, 307/353-2300 or 800/827-4433, www.grandtarghee.com ) on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
In existence since 1996, the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race (IPSSSDR, pronounced IPS-der, 307/734-1163, www.wyomingstagestop.org ) is the largest sled dog race in the lower 48 states and a qualifying event for Alaska’s Iditarod. Unlike the Iditarod and most other mushing events, this one is run in short 30- to 60-mile legs, with teams operating from a different town each day. As with the Tour de France, it’s the total time that counts in this stage race.
The race is the creation of Iditarod musher Frank Teasley and nurse Jayne Ottman, who came up with the idea as a way to raise awareness of the need to immunize children; it’s unofficially called “The Race to Immunize.” IPSSSDR starts in Jackson  and then goes on to Lander, Pinedale, Big Piney, Alpine, Kemmerer, and Evanston, before ending in Park City, Utah . The race boasts a $50,000 purse and has attracted some of the top names in dog mushing, including Iditarod winners Lance Mackey, Jeff King, and Rick Swenson. It’s held over eight days in late January and early February.
Each February, local Shriners hold horse-drawn cutter races (307/733-4052)—essentially a wild chariot race on 0.25 mile of ice—at Melody Ranch, six miles south of Jackson.
Ski and snowboard races take place all winter long at local resorts; volunteer to work one of the gates at a downhill race and you get to ski free the rest of the day.
One of the most popular—and silliest—Jackson events is the World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb (www.snowdevils.org ), in which man (or woman) and machine churn up the slopes at Snow King Resort. The event takes place in late March.
The ski season ends the first weekend of April with the Pole-Pedal-Paddle Race (307/733-6433, www.polepedalpaddle.com ), combining alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, cycling, and canoeing in a wild, tough competition. It’s the largest such event in the West and great fun for spectators and contestants, many of whom dress up in goofy costumes.
Spring in Jackson Hole  is the least favorite time of the year for many locals. The snow is going, leaving behind brown grass and trees; biking and hiking trails aren’t yet passable; and the river is too cold to enjoy. For many folks, this is the time to load up the car and head to Utah for a desert hike in Canyonlands. Despite these conditions, April and May can be a good time to visit, especially if you want to avoid the crowds, need to save money on lodging, or are planning to stay for the summer and need a job and a place to live. (Housing gets progressively more difficult to find after April.)
Summer begins with a series of events during Elkfest (307/733-3316, www.elkfest.org ) on the third weekend of May, including a mountain-man rendezvous and chili cook-off. The main event, however, is the world’s only public elk antler auction, which attracts hundreds of buyers from all over the globe to Jackson’s Town Square . Local Boy Scouts collect five tons of antlers from the nearby National Elk Refuge  each spring, with 80 percent of the proceeds helping to fund feeding of the elk. This may sound like an odd event, but the take is generally more than $60,000! Prices average $9 per pound, and the bidding gets highly competitive; perfectly matched pairs can go for more than $1,500. The antlers are primarily used in taxidermy, belt buckles, and furniture.
Memorial Day weekend in May brings Old West Days (307/733-3316), complete with a mountain-man rendezvous, horse-drawn parade, brewfest, carriage show, and crafts fair. In late June, the Jackson Hole Writers Conference (307/413-3332, www.jacksonholewritersconference.com ) attracts nationally known authors and wannabes to the Center for the Arts.
Fourth of July is another big event in Jackson, with a parade, rodeo, pancake breakfast, and an impressive fireworks show from Snow King Mountain. Another very popular Independence Day event is the free Music in the Hole (307/733-1128, www.gtmf.org ) outdoor classical concert by the Grand Teton Music Festival orchestra.
If you have a burning desire for something hot, don’t miss the Jackson Hole Fire Festival (www.vista360.org ) on summer solstice (June 21), when the city partners with Fujiyoshida, Japan. You’ll see traditional Japanese drumming, dancing, street torches, and food.
On Wednesday and Saturday nights in summer you can watch bucking broncs, bull riders, barrel racers, rodeo clowns, and hard-riding cowboys at the Jackson Hole Rodeo (307/733-7927, www.jacksonholerodeo.us , late May-early Sept., starting at 8 p.m., $14 adults, $9 ages 5-12, free for kids under five) on the Teton County Fair Grounds. Kids get to join in the amusing calf scramble. Another ongoing event is the Grand Teton Music Festival (307/733-1128, www.gtmf.org ), providing summertime classical music at Teton Village.
The Art Fair of Jackson Hole (307/733-8792, www.jhartfair.org ) features more than 100 artisans displaying their works at Miller Park. This highly competitive, juried event takes place in mid-July and again in mid-August.
The last week of July brings an always fun Teton County Fair (307/733-5289, www.tetoncountyfair.com ) with 4-H exhibits (from lambs to photography), pig wrestling in the mud, a horse show, pony rides and a petting farm, watermelon- and pie-eating contests, live music and comedy acts, a carnival, rodeos, and everyone’s favorite: a bang-up demolition derby on the final Sunday night.
During the second weekend of September, the invitation-only Jackson Hole One-Fly Contest (307/203-2654, www.jhonefly.com ) attracts anglers from all over, including several celebrity competitors. Another charity event is Old Bill’s Fun Run (307/739-1026, www.oldbills.org ) the second Saturday of September; it’s raised more than $67 million over the last decade or so!
Jackson Hole  is at its most glorious in the fall, as aspens and cottonwoods turn into a fire of yellow and orange against the Teton backdrop. Most tourists have fled back home, leaving locals and hardier visitors to savor the cool autumn nights. The peak time for fall colors is generally the first week of October—considerably later than most people expect.
The primary autumn event is the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival (307/733-3316, www.jacksonholechamber.com/events ), which takes place over a 10-day period in September. Featured activities include exhibits at the National Museum of Wildlife Art  and local galleries, a juried art fair, an art auction, Western fashion and furniture shows, a miniature art show, cowboy poetry and old-time cowboy music, “Taste of the Tetons” with delectable food from local restaurants, and tours of historic ranches. Also fun is a “quickdraw” in which artists paint, draw, and sculpt while you watch; the pieces are then auctioned off.
In early October, Quilting in the Tetons (307/733-3087, www.quiltthetetons.org ) brings a week of exhibits, classes, workshops, and quilting demonstrations.