Record-breaking European Mount Auctioned at Annual ElkFest
Old West Days in full swing in Jackson Hole, continues through Memorial Day
- Published In: Other News & Features
- Last Updated: May 24, 2023
Bidders prepare to claim the record-breaking European Mount skull and antlers that went up for auction at ElkFest last weekend in Jackson. The rack sold for over $15,000. (Courtesy photo from Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce)
By Melissa Thomasma
Special to the Wyoming Truth
The 56th annual ElkFest in Jackson Hole — the world’s largest elk antler auction — kicked off the community’s annual Old West Days and shattered some records on Saturday.
“The largest European Mount, which is an intact skull with antlers, that’s ever been found on the [National] Elk Refuge went up for auction,” said John Morgan, director of events and communications for the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the event.
The ultimate price tag on this one-of-a-kind discovery? A whopping $15,500. The event raised a total of $218,382. A quarter of that sum will help pay for Scout group programming, and the remainder will go to the National Elk Refuge, which manages approximately 25,000 acres of land and the nation’s largest herd of wild elk.
“Things went spectacularly well,” Morgan told the Wyoming Truth. “Other antler vendors from across the country sold their wares, and we received great feedback from them.”
Over 160 pre-registered bidders from across the globe lined up to purchase antlers that were retrieved by local Scout troops from the National Elk Refuge, marking a 25% increase over last year.
According to the National Elk Refuge’s post-event calculations, 9,696 pounds of antlers were sold at the auction—about 2,348 pounds more than last year. Bidders paid an average of $22.53 per pound of antler, a drop from an average of $27.41 per pound in 2022.
ElkFest is the opening event for Old West Days, a 10-day festival honoring the area’s Western heritage and culture.
“It was unofficially considered the kickoff to summer season for many years, marking that tourist season was back open,” Morgan said. “From our perspective, it’s a festival to celebrate everything about Jackson Hole — history, ranching, Western culture, mountain men, Native Americans — it’s not just one thing we’re celebrating.”
Sunday’s festivities included the High Noon Chili Cook Off, a friendly, yet fierce competition to earn the “People’s Choice Award.” Of the 13 competitors, eight professional teams and five amateurs shared their best chili recipes, Morgan said. FRX Restaurant snagged the award in the professional category, and an individual competitor under the title “Dank Dishes by D” won for the amateur division.
The weekend also saw the opening of the Mountain Man Rendezvous, where reenactors celebrate the fur trapping history of the West, sell their wares at Traders’ Row and demonstrate archery and ax throwing, Morgan said. The cluster of old-fashioned canvas tents brimmed with hides, fur coats and accessories, detailed beadwork and handcrafted knives for sale.
The Mountain Man Rendezvous remains open through Memorial Day, along with other activities and events that are mostly free and family-friendly.
The exception is Saturday’s Old West Brew Fest, featuring 16 brewers from the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest who will compete for the “Peoples’ Choice Award.” While consumption and voting are reserved for those 21 and over, the event will take place alongside an array of Old West family activities, including dance lessons, fly fishing demos, historical walking tours of downtown and a homestead reenactment offering children’s games from the 1800s, craft making and more.
Both Brew Fest and the activities begin at 11 a.m., following the “Best of the West Parade.”
On Memorial Day, the celebrations will draw to a close as the local American Legion chapter offers a service in the Town Square to honor those who lost their lives while defending the country.
View the full lineup of upcoming events here, including the season’s first rodeo, the kickoff of the iconic “Shootout” and a pre-concert hosted by the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.