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Jackson Locals Not Impressed with International Hoopla

September 20, 1989

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) _ Residents say they’ll welcome the U.S. and Soviet foreign ministers this week as long as the tete-a-tete in the Grand Tetons doesn’t crimp elk hunting or trout fishing.

Bob Lunger, owner of Spike Camp sport shop, was too busy outfitting dozens of hunters for the just-started elk season to worry about the presummit meeting between Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze.

″This is my busiest time of year,″ Lunger said. ″I don’t have time to pay much attention to that stuff.″

Lunger’s attitude isn’t much different from that of many Jackson Hole locals, who are about as impressed with visiting dignitaries and celebrities as backcountry bull moose or black bears that wander into the town of Jackson.

″There are a lot of celebrities that come through here. We just don’t make a big deal about it. We just go on about our business,″ said Amy Jones, floor manager for The Get Your Buns In Here Bunnery in downtown Jackson.

President Bush has been a frequent visitor to the area, known for its blue ribbon fly fishing, art galleries, wooden sidewalks, skiing and towering 13,766-foot Grand Teton.

Former presidents Kennedy, Ford, Carter and Teddy Roosevelt all vacationed in the area, which also has been home to movie stars, artists and wealthy industrialists.

Actor Harrison Ford of ″Star Wars″ fame often is spotted at local cafes and the Rockefellers and DuPonts have ranches in the area.

While the presence of celebrities may be passe in this cosmopolitan mountain town, the bakery manager conceded, ″this (presummit) itself is a little more exciting than Bo Derek making a movie.″

The superpower talks and accommodations will be at the 385-room Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park, about 30 miles north of Jackson and just south of Yellowstone National Park in northwestern Wyoming.

Earlier this year Baker, who owns a ranch about 75 miles south of Jackson, enticed Shevardnadze to agree to the meetings in Wyoming after showing him photographs of the Tetons.

From the lakeside lodge the delegations will be able to gaze through 60- foot tall windows at the snow-dusted mountains. A short walk will take them through stands of golden aspen and, if they’re lucky, give them a view of a moose or two wading across Willow Flats or into Oxbow Bend of the Snake River.

While the two delegations discuss arms control, human rights, international law, the Middle East and the global environment, an estimated 400 journalists from throughout the world will crowd Jackson’s motels, restaurants and bars.

The press will have little access to the lodge, prompting tourism officials to try to take advantage of possible idle time for members of the media. They have compiled hundreds of feature story ideas about the area.

The setting itself can’t help but provide a humbling environment for the global powers to meet, said Gov. Mike Sullivan, who plans to greet Baker and Shevardnadze upon their arrival Thursday night.

″Anybody that’s been there knows there’s a special aura about the beauty of the Tetons and the peaceful nature of the valley,″ Sullivan said. ″You can get very close to nature in Jackson - that’s always helpful to any kind of deliberations.″

But can they get close to the western flavor of the area, settled by fur trappers and mountain men in the early part of the 19th century and now populated by the wealthy, ranchers, environmentalists, shopkeepers and ski bums?

″I don’t think you can be in Jackson Hole without experiencing the flavor of the West,″ Sullivan said. ″Even if ensconced in meetings, they’ll feel the mountain air and see the clear rivers and oversee the beautiful mountains - if we don’t get a cold front that moves in.″

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