The 52nd annual Jim Butler Days continues in Tonopah through Monday, May 29. The theme is “Bulls N’ Blood – Dust N’ Mud.”
If you’re not up on rodeo-speak, it’s a reference to the Garth Brooks hit “Rodeo” — but the theme also captures the spirit of the nine-day Jim Butler Days festival, which celebrates the town’s founding with a parade, pageantry, music, bull rides, a whiskey-tasting and more.
If you haven’t booked a room in Tonopah yet, you’re likely out of luck. Last year’s event sold out hotels in the area and this year’s event — which coincides with the Nevada State Mining Championships — is already attracting large crowds.
Day-trippers can still find plenty of fun with events beginning early mornings and going well into the late evenings. A full schedule can be found at jimbutlerdays.com.
If you’re only planning on dipping into town for an afternoon, the Pahrump Valley Times offers these tips of “must-dos” for Jim Butler Days.
1. Bow to the royalty. Each year, a court reigns over the festival.
This year’s Jim Butler Days kicked off on Sunday with the coronation of king and queen, TJ and Shaunna Ladner. You’ll likely see them around town in the coming days at festival events, so make sure to pay your respects.
Here’s a peek at other members of this year’s Jim Butler Days court:
Junior Queen – Macie Strozzi
Miss Butler – Samreen Chahal
Prince Butler – Michael Silas
Jr. Miss Butler – Yvette Hays
Jr. Prince Butler – Carson Grigory
Little Miss Butler – Aria Lee Withers
Little Prince Butler – Colin Grigory
Mini Miss Butler – Natalie Carter
Mini Butler – Jaylen Baldwin
Baby Girl Butler – Lainey Carmen
Baby Boy Butler – Austin Grigory
2. Live like the town’s founders. You can experience a glimpse of what life was like in the Old West with several events at this year’s Jim Butler Days. Blacksmithing demonstrations will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Mining Park’s blacksmithing area. You can also try your hand at gold panning from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Elks Lodge. Taste some tonics from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Tonopah Liquor Co.’s whiskey-tasting event. And don’t miss a highlight of the annual festival — the Jim Butler Stampede, from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Tonopah Fairgrounds and Arena. Tickets for the stampede are $10 in advance, or $15 at the door. That’s a deal to see the stampede’s Wild Cow Milking event.
3. Take in the parade. The lineup begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at VFW Post 1103 and typically runs for more than an hour along the town’s main corridor. It features floats, horses, military heroes and more.
Outfit yourself in some Jim Butler-branded merchandise — T-shirts, shot glasses, coozies, buttons, garters and more are being sold at the festival — then plop down at a comfortable spot along the parade route. All proceeds from merchandise sales help support future Jim Butler Days celebrations.
4. Enter the raffle. Nevadans like to gamble. So take your chance with the Jim Butler raffle. Local businesses and others have donated dozens of items —from jewelry, to kitchenware, to power tools, to gift certificates for getaways.
The total value of items in this year’s raffle is more than $20,000, according to organizers. You can see a full list of items being raffled at jimbutlerdays.com/2023RafflePrizeDonations.pdf.
5. Walk with ghosts. Take a break from the action with a self-guided walking tour of the Old Tonopah Cemetery, located next to the creepy Clown Motel. Some fascinating outlaws, miners and locals are buried in the town’s cemetery, including Bina Verrault, who fled from the law in New York City before meeting her death in Tonopah. Verrault is believed to haunt the visitor center at Tonopah Historic Mining Park. You can find the graves of her and others highlighted on the cemetery’s historic map.