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Country: United States
Free Things to Do:
We love our hometown, and I think you will, too. Right now, the cherry and apple trees are in bloom. When the petals drift slowly down in the warm air, it feels as if we are at a wedding. Most people think Idaho is backward, but I want to tell you otherwise. We are not overrun with tourists, but we could be in years to come. Mini-Cassia is actually two counties with a common Chamber of Commerce. Within 20 miles in any direction you will find water skiing, mountain climbing and hiking, rock climbing, skiing in season, fishing, hunting in season, and dozens of peaceful green spots to picnic.
At the Minidoka Dam, we have seen antelope, deer, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, mink, weasels, and a number of birds including hawks, great horned owls and eagles. You can't pet them. They are wild. The dam is home to hundreds of pelicans and seagulls, and the rapids are so beautiful! Wild roses bloom, wild currants by the trillions are free for the picking (freeze them and take them home to make jelly). You can take free tours of the inside of the dam where the power is generated. It is 100 years old now, and there is talk of replacing it, but it is in wonderful shape.
Depending on when you come, there are many free events, including two county fairs, the Skandi Dag Festival (see the real live trolls and try authentic Skandinavian foods), Rupert's incredible July 4th parade, rodeo, and celebration, other rodeos, truck and tractor pulls (a small admission fee), 4-H horseback competitions and professional reined horse and show horse competitions, chariot racing, a nationwide famous speedboat race competition, natural hot springs to soak in, wild asparagus picking, etc.
During potato harvest, you can glean a field with the owner's permission and take home a couple hundred pounds of free spuds! The desert area just out of town has caves, amazing lava flows from ancient times, and plenty of artifacts to find. We have known people to find old glass, arrowheads, tobacco tins, etc. If you go a little further, you will see the Craters of the Moon National Park, with every different kind of lava flow there is. The basalt-column lined Snake River Canyon takes your breath away, and there is a sanctioned bridge for BASE jumping in Twin Falls. Evel Knievel tried it on a motorcycle with rockets, but he didn't succeed, and almost broke every bone in his body.
There is free entertainment almost every weekend someplace in the area. Local talent and even professional talent if you don't mind buying a drink or a sandwich at a pub. There is a concert series during the winter for a very modest fee. Oakley has a tiny, hundred-year-old theatre and they present five shows a year or more, plus special events. They do a great job, and the atmosphere alone is worth the trip! While you're in Oakley, you should drive around the small town and see Victorian mansions in a remarkable state of preservation. Then drive out to their reservoir and take your fishing gear. There are all sorts of fish, re-stocked every year by the Fish and Game Department.
In Rupert, there is a quilting supply store called The Gathering Place on the town square. It is listed in some quilting tour guides. There are also Mexican restaurants and a bakery, American food, etc. The Square is also the site of incredible Christmas lighting displays. If you are into quilting, there's a show every October as well as during the county fairs.
Low Cost Things to Do:
Eat on the Square during July 4th celebration, then enjoy the street dance, fireworks, continuous free entertainment, a parade, and a carnival. The Speedboat competition is the same week. Recommend adults only on that one because they sell beer and some folks get a little carried away. Hike, picnic, swim, sightsee, and check with the Chamber of Commerce for what's going on.
Expensive But Worth It:
Skiiers will spend about $30 per person at Pomerelle Resort per day. The slopes are well manicured; there are instructors available. If you're a real pro, drive up to Hailey or Sun Valley and ski on Baldy. You might be skiing with a resident celebrity like a Schwarzenegger, Demi Moore, Bruce Willis, Carole King, Mariel Hemingway or others. Out of state residents pay a hefty fee for hunting and fishing licenses. If you are in to horse racing, we have parimutual racing the first weekend in July. Trainers from all over the west bring their horses to see who can whip butt.
Rodeos, pubs with professional entertainment including top notch jazz, Celtic style, and rock.
Just for Kids:
The Skandi Dag, the first weekend in June in Burley, has a terrific Troll Tromp for $8 that includes games, a tee shirt, and a Troll cone (an authentic vaffel is from a Danish recipe.)
Chains required in the mountains from October through April, depending on snowfall.
Best in Burley. There is a Best Western and several smaller motels, and rooms start at about $40 a night.
Interesting Facts or History:
Minidoka County has the largest gravity fed irrigation system in the United States. It was built in 1905 and 1906 with men and horses, and is still in excellent shape today. It is the lifeblood of our grain, hay, sugarbeet and other crops. The area was settled by mainly Ukrainians, Italians, and Germans who took advantage of free land draws in the early part of the century.. The area was active with volcanoes until relatively recent times.
Chamber of Commerce Contact Information:
1177 7th Street, Heyburn (right on the river). Call for brochures at 208-679-4793,
Churches include Catholic, Baptist, Assembly of God, nondenominational, Church of Christ, First Christian, Calvary Chapel and more.
Click photos for larger versions.
This weekend is our Scandinavian festival. Friday there will be a parade with trolls, folk dancers, musicians, etc. On Saturday there will be authentic food, activities, games, skill demonstrations like spinning and weaving, a half marathon and a 3 mile walk/run. Viking feast is supposed to be heavenly -- I'm looking forward to that! Here Jan Ganoe is fixing a vaffel is or waffle cone for Ada. They are wearing folk costumes sewn by Joleen Anderson of Burley, who made about 100 of them last year.
Cowboy music and standup comedy are popular here. These two; Cowboy Rudy Gonzales and Barb Wire Ben Aitken, came from Boise for Rupert's Centennial Celebration in April.
Winter in Mini-Cassia, ID
By Coreen from Rupert, ID