Jackson Hole Town Square Shoot Out
Every Monday through Saturday, at the corner of East Broadway and Center Street, just after 6:00pm, cast members from the Jackson Hole Playhouse take to the streets to perform the Wild New West Shootout. The shootout has been a part of the Jackson Hole history since 1957—most people who visit town don’t leave without watching it at least once. The shootout provides wild west entertainment and a slice of history surrounding the cowboy culture of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Vacationers, locals, tourists, workers, recreationalists, and even those just passing through town on the way to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks have a hard time missing the shootout, after all, it does take place in the busiest intersection of town in the middle of “rush hour” traffic around Jackson Hole.
But even though most people passing through Jackson Hole at least know about the shootout, very few know about the people who take the time to perform it every night.
The Jackson Hole shootout talent is drafted from the Jackson Hole Playhouse, which puts on a different musical every summer as well a nightly dinner performance. The participants from the Playhouse are split into two groups, and then switch off nightly between the Jackson Hole Shootout and the Playhouse dinner performance.
And why? For fame? Or perhaps fortune? Not exactly. According to one cast member, the performers get paid so little “you could almost consider it volunteer work.”
So why does this group of men and women dress up in Old West costumes every night, learn three different shows, and willingly entertain huge groups of people? “This is an experience I never would have gotten doing anything else,” said the aforementioned cast member. “I get to meet so many people doing this, a lot of them from other countries.”
At first glance, the Jackson Hole Shootout on the Town Square may appear to be a crew of under-paid, widely-talented actors in expensive costumes, singing and shooting fake guns at each other. And in fact this is true, but what you won’t gather from taking in only one shootout, is how dedicated the actors are to their town and performance.
Although the people involved in the Shootout change over the years, there are a few staple ingredients to this story. There are visitors to Jackson who get a taste of what the Old West might have been like. There are locals who know to avoid the corner of Broadway and Center from 5:45 until 6:45 every day except Sunday unless they have guests, in which case they go there anyway. There’s a small town that is home to a mix of diverse cultures set in a quaint western backdrop. And there are performers who practically donate their time to entertain all of these people and to get a reward for themselves that’s better than getting paid. They’re preserving the history of the town and providing visitors, no matter where they’re from, with a unique slice of Jackson Hole culture amid a bustling backdrop of summer activities.