Categories: Upcoming Events



As we approach Smokey Bear’s 80th birthday, the charming village of Capitan, New Mexico, prepares to host the annual Smokey Bear Days on May 3rd and 4th. This event not only celebrates the legacy of one of America’s most beloved wildlife icons but also emphasizes the ongoing importance of wildfire prevention. Let’s delve into the history of Smokey Bear and explore what this year’s festivities entail.


The Origin of Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear’s story began in 1944 as part of a public service campaign aimed at preventing forest fires. Amidst World War II, there was a genuine fear that enemy shells exploding in the U.S. could ignite massive wildfires. Smokey was created as a symbol to educate the public about the dangers of forest fires, under the slogan “Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires,” which was later updated to “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires” in 2001 to cover all types of fires in natural areas.


The living symbol of Smokey Bear came into being in 1950 when a young bear cub was rescued from a devastating wildfire in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico. The fire burned his paws and hind legs, and he took refuge in a tree. Local firefighters named him “Smokey” after the ad campaign. The bear cub was then flown to Washington, D.C., where he lived at the National Zoo and served as a living reminder of wildfire prevention until his death in 1976. Today, Smokey Bear remains a pivotal figure in educating the public about fire safety and natural conservation.


Smokey Bear Days 2024

This year marks the 80th anniversary of Smokey Bear, and the celebrations in Capitan are expected to be particularly memorable. Smokey Bear Days serves as both an educational and entertaining event, drawing attention to forest management practices and fire safety methods. The festival features a parade, live music, educational booths, and firefighting demonstrations. It’s a family-friendly event that offers fun and learning for people of all ages.


Event Highlights
  • Parade: Featuring local fire departments, forestry services, and community organizations, the parade is a highlight of the festival.
  • Wildfire Prevention Education: Attend workshops and demonstrations to learn more about how you can contribute to preventing wildfires.
  • Arts and Crafts: Local artisans display and sell their work, often featuring themes of nature and conservation.
  • Children’s Activities: Educational games and activities are designed to engage the younger audience in Smokey’s message.


A Critical Message

Smokey Bear Days not only celebrates the historic campaign and its furry ambassador but also reinforces the critical message that we all have a part to play in preventing wildfires. As Smokey Bear continues to inspire and educate, his message remains clear and increasingly relevant: “Only you can prevent wildfires.” Join the community in Capitan this May to honor this iconic bear’s 80th birthday and help spread his vital message for generations to come.