Tuesday, June 14, 2011
THE JACKALOPE FESTIVAL FROM DOUGLAS, WYOMING!
Home to the infamous "Jackalope", Douglas Wyoming is a popular stop when traveling in the Wild West! The town of Douglas ... is small town America at its best! In fact, we were rated "One of the Best small towns" in America!
This area of east central Wyoming is the home of many historic trails rich in their history and rugged scenery. The mountain ranges and foothills offer refuge to elk, bear and deer with herds of antelope foraging on the the diverse landscape.
The town of Douglas sits on the banks of the North Platte River, on the path from/to Denver, Colorado, Yellowstone National Park, or the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Other attractions of the area are: the Wyoming State Fairgrounds, the Wyoming Pioneer Memorial Museum, Douglas Railroad Interpretive Center, Oregon Trail and Historic Marker, Fort Fetterman, Ayres Natural Bridge, Sir Barton Memorial Statue - the First Triple Crown Winner in the United States, Laramie peak in the medicine Bow
National Forest, Esterbrook Recreational Area and Friend Park Campground.
The town of Douglas celebrates the Jackalope the first weekend of June with many activities, such as, vendor entertainment, various events and mudbogging. Come join the fun!
The Origin of the Jackalope
Douglas Herrick, creator of the "jackalope" — that curious critter with a jack rabbit's body and an antelope's antlers that could turn downright vicious when threatened yet sing a gentle tenor along with the best of the campfire cowboys —died Jan. 3, 2003 in Casper, WY. He was 82.
In the 1930s, the Herrick brothers — Douglas and Ralph, who studied taxidermy by mail order as teenagers — went hunting. Returning home, they tossed a rabbit into the taxidermy shop.
The carcass slid right up to a pair of deer antlers, and Douglas Herrick's eyes suddenly lighted up.
"Let's mount it the way it is!" he said, and a legend was born — or at least given form.
Jackalope, thanks to the Herrick brothers, have taken their place in modern mythology right alongside Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.
As "proof" of the jackalopes’ presence now and in the past, they cite:
Fact or fiction, legend or lark, the jackalope the Herricks stuffed and mounted gave their native Douglas, WY., a reason to be.
Before discovery of uranium, coal, oil and natural gas doubled the town's population to about 7,500 in the mid-1970s, Douglas specialized in selling jackalope souvenirs. The Herrick’s fed the increasing demand for the stuffed and mounted trophies. Tens of thousands have been sold.
That first jackalope was sold for $10 to Roy Ball, who installed it proudly in the town's LaBonte Hotel. The mounted horned rabbit head was stolen in 1977.
The town of Douglas erected an 8-foot-tall statue of the jackalope on one of Center streets islands, which met its demise when a four wheel drive pick up tried to run it over. The statue was re-constructed in Jackalope Square in the center of Douglas, where it stands to this day. Proud city fathers later added a 13-foot-tall jackalope cutout on a hillside and placed jackalope images on park benches and fire trucks, among other things. Now the largest jackalope in the world resides at the Douglas Railroad Interpretative Center.
Acknowledging the animal's purported propensity to attack ferociously anything that threatened it, the city also posted warning signs: "Watch out for the jackalope."
The Douglas Chamber of Commerce has issued thousands of jackalope hunting licenses, despite rules specifying that the hunter can hunt only between midnight and 2 a.m. each June 31.
Tourist-shop clerks in Douglas told and retold tales of cowboys who remembered harmonious jackalope joining their nightly campfire songs. Visitors rarely have left Douglas without buying jackalope postcards and trinkets.
The state of Wyoming trademarked the jackalope name in 1965. Twenty years later, Gov. Ed Herschler, crediting Douglas Herrick with the animal's creation, designated Wyoming the jackalopes’ official home. The governor proclaimed Douglas to be the "Home of the Jackalope".
Mr. Herrick made only about 1,000 or so horned rabbit trophies before going on to other things. His brother kept churning out jackalopes.
Mr. Herrick grew up on a ranch near Douglas and served as a tail gunner on a B-17 during World War II. He worked as a taxidermist until 1954, when he became a welder and pipe fitter for Amoco Refinery until his retirement in 1980.
Myth of The Jackalope
The myth of the jackalope has bred the rise of many outlandish (and largely tongue-in-cheek) claims as to the creature's habits. For example, it is said to be a hybrid of the pygmy-deer and a species of "killer rabbit". Reportedly, jackalopes are extremely shy unless approached. Legend also has it that female jackalopes can be milked as they sleep belly up and that the milk can be used for a variety of medicinal purposes. It has
also been said that the jackalope can convincingly imitate any sound, including the human voice. It uses this ability to elude pursuers, chiefly by using phrases such as "There he goes! That way!" It is said that a jackalope may be caught by putting a flask of whiskey out at night. The jackalope will drink its fill of whiskey and its intoxication will make it easier to hunt. In some parts of the United States it is said that jackalope meat has a taste similar to lobster. However, legend has it that they are dangerous if approached. It has also been said that jackalopes will only breed during electrical storms including hail, explaining its rarity.
Jackalope legends are sometimes used by locals to play tricks on tourists. This joke was employed by Ronald Reagan to reporters in 1980 during a tour of his California ranch. Reagan had a rabbit head with antlers, which he referred to as a "jackalope", mounted on his wall. Reagan liked to claim that he had caught the animal himself. Reagan's jackalope hangs on the ranch's wall to this day.