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Cowboy Film Adds Depth to Wagon Days Weekend
Friday, September 3, 2021


Marcia Walt, who grew up in Ketchum, opened the door to the hall closet on her New Mexico ranch one day to find a giant snake that resembled rattlesnake coiled up inside. She calmly closed the closet and sat down and poured herself a drink. And, when her husband came home, she told him, “There’s a huge snake in our hall closet.”

“Marcia, that’s good snake to have. That’s a bull snake,” Rick Walt said, referring to a snake that’s known for eating poisonous snakes.

“I don’t care. I want it out of my house,” Walt responded.

Ketchum filmmaker and writer Feli Funke tells that story to illustrate the bravery she has found in so many of the cowboys that she featured in her film “Cowboys-A Documentary Portrait.”

Funke will show that film as a benefit for The Argyros Performing Arts Center and Swiftsure Ranch therapeutic riding center at 7 tonight—Friday, Sept. 3—as Ketchum’s annual Wagon days celebration gets underway.

Tickets start at $10 and are available at Those purchasing $50 VIP tickets will be treated to a reception with Funke, who is the creative producer of the film.

“Cowboys are ultimately cool,” said Funke. “What I tried to show in the film is that there are women out there and children and families living that life. And these are brave, resilient, courageous people.

“You cannot get onto those large ranches so the cowboy remains alive, but mystical. He is often misunderstood, romanticized, attacked for running cattle on BLM lands…people are unaware of the fact that the weather is brutal, the job is dangerous, the body breaks down. It is a tough life, but extremely rewarding.”

Funke was born in Germany but, like so many Europeans, grew up infatuated with the American West and the American Cowboy. As a feature writer for the Phillip Morris cigarette company in her 20s, she got her chance to ride through the West during a pack ride with four others in Northern Nevada

“The magic of finding wide open spaces, finding nature without fences and lights and houses and roads, to travel in the wilderness on horseback, encounter wild horses out there, to see the Milky Way from your sleeping bag--it was absolutely incredible and that led to a deep curiosity about the West. That changed my life and that’s also when I found Ketchum, Idaho.”

In fact, looking for a little culture after the pack trip was over, Funk’s new cowboy friends directed her to Ketchum. “That’s where all the Europeans are,” they said.

Funke ended up making her home in Ketchum and she ended up continuing to write about the American West—in particular, her coffee table book “Gathering Remnants—a Tribute to the Working Cowboy,” which she published in 2000.

The feature-length film takes viewers to 10 of America’s largest and most remote “big outfit” cattle ranches in eight states—some more than a million acres in size.

It was directed by Bud Force, an award-winning Texas director and cinematographer and a former rodeo cowboy who has worked on ranches.

“Getting onto these ranches took a terrific amount of time and a sense of adventure,” Funke said. “These were not roads in the way that you and I know roads. The directions were more like, ‘At the dead tree take a left.’ ‘At the yellow rocks take a right.’ These ranches don’t have power. They all have generators. And, when you turn off the generators at 10 at night, the silence is so profound.”

Funke premiered the film at the Austin Film Festival where it won the Audience Award. She showed it daily at the Elko cowboy Poetry Gathering and at a film festival in Sheridan, Wyo., where it was voted Best Film.

“These ranches are vast—it’s a huge undertaking. And it has not changed that much over the years. The big ranches are still run old school—the country is simply too rough and too remote to do anything else but get out there on horseback.”


FRIDAY, Sept. 3

9 a.m.-6 p.m. Hailey Labor Dy Antique Show, Roberta McKercher Park. Continues Saturday and Sunday.

10 a.m.-6 p.m. Big Hitch on Display at the Ore Wagon Museum, 500 East Avenue in Ketchum. Continues after the parade on Saturday and on Sunday.

5-7:30 p.m. Gallery Walk at Ketchum galleries.

5:30 p.m. Grand Marshal Ceremony at Ketchum Town Square honoring Diane Josephy Peavey and John Peavey, co-founders of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival.


10 a.m.-5 pm. Wagon Days Kid’s Corner at East Avenue and Sun Valley Road

11 a.m.-1 p.m. Wes Urbaniak and the Mountain Folk perform music at Ketchum Town Square

1 p.m. Big Hitch Parade down Sun Valley Road and Main Street Ketchum.

2 p.m. Garry Tackett, “Guitarist to the Stars,” plays at Ketchum Town Square.

8:15 p.m. Sun Valley on Ice featuring Olympic Bronze medalist Jason Brown.

SUNDAY, Sept. 5

6:30 p.m. LANCO with Lainey Wilson, Sun Valley Pavilion.

MONDAY, Sept. 6

12 p.m. Bellevue Labor Day Parade

1-5 p.m. Live music at Bellevue Memorial Park, along with food vendors.

6 p.m. “Wizard of Oz” screening on Sun Valley’s Pavilion Lawn with costume contest at 5:45 p.m.






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