Territory Days back May 25-27; stronger focus for Memorial Day

       For most of its years, the Territory Days street festival has been a three-day affair, benefiting from the recognized Memorial Day date always falling on the Monday after the last weekend in May.
       For this year's 38th annual event - Saturday to Monday, May 25-27 in Old Colorado City - Territory Days organizer Jim Wear of Pro Promotions plans to put a bigger spotlight on the national holiday, which honors those in the mililtary who have died for their country.
       Memorial Day recognition has been a part of festival activities in Bancroft Park - the NORAD North Command Joint Color Guard will return this year for the traditional Moment of Silence at 3 p.m. - but this time the Moment will not be followed by a rock or pop group, but by an hour of patriotic music from the 101st Army Band. Composed of citizen-soldiers, the group is a unit of the Colorado Army National Guard.
       “Memorial Day used to be a big deal, where you'd stop and remember people who gave their lives, and over time it became just another three-day weekend,” Wear said in an interview. “I think, hey, Territory Days is awesome, a great party, but it doesn't hurt to stop for a little bit and remind everyone, 'Tell your kids what Memorial Day is about.'”
       The rest of the “great party” will take place in the usual space and time, with Colorado Avenue and its side streets (for a block in either direction) shut off between 23rd and 27th streets to allow 200-some vendor booths, street bands and activity areas.
       The event time frame each day will be about 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
       Admission to Territory Days is free, but fees are charged for some activities. Barring bad weather, crowds for all three days could be 150,000 people or more.
       As a rule some Old Colorado City merchants stay open to take advantage of the potential shoppers while others feel overhelmed and shut down for the weekend.
       Off-street parking near the event is almost non-existent, although handicapped parking will be available in the city lot at Cucharras and 26th and in marked on-street spaces on Cucharras west of 27th.
       Free shuttle buses will run between the parking lot at Coronado High School (overflow at Rock Ledge Ranch's lot) and the east end of the festival at Colorado and 23rd.
       Pro Promotions contracts with the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group, for whom the festival is its most profitable event of the year, with earnings used primarily for marketing.
       Bancroft Park will be busy throughout, with live music interspersed with gunfighting enactments May 25-26, a “Cowboy Church Service” May 26 from 9 to 10 a.m., the Pikes Peak Square Dancers May 26 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and the Fast Draw competition May 27 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (qualifying) and 2 to 3 p.m. (finals).
       Most of the bands will be from this area. Two exceptions are nationally charted country singers, who are scheduled to perform in the Bancroft Park bandshell, courtesy of the “CAT country” radio station. These are Joel Crouse, May 26 at 3:30 p.m.; and Jon Pardi, May 27 at 5 p.m.
       A popular, returning out-of-state band is Brulé, which will set up again on 25th Street, north of the avenue, performing all three days at the top of the hour from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
       Bands will also be a regular presence daily at the “OK Corral” south of the avenue in the 2600 block public parking lot.
       The Corral is one of two designated drinking areas at Territory Days - the other is the “Beer Garden” on Colbrunn Court next to Bancroft Park.
       A noticeable layout difference this year will involve the “Kids Zone” area, whose carnival-style rides will set up on 24th Street north of the avenue. A new ride this year will be a child-size “hamster ball kind of thing,” which kids can roll around in, Wear said.
       The Old Town Plaza parking lot at 25th and Colorado, where the Zone has set up in recent years, will still be “part of the event,” with vendors, performers and chairs for people to sit and rest, he said.
       An unsual musical act will be a Colorado Springs fourth-grader whose stage name is “jdviolinboy.” Also playing piano and ukelele, he will perform in Bancroft Park and the plaza “throughout the weekend,” according to Pro Promotions' event program.
       Territory Days will again offer several events/activities that reflect the wide-open, Old West style of early Colorado City. Wear, in his fourth year as organizer, credited his predecessor, Lynda Dunne, for establishing much of that. “We're just trying to continue what was handed to us,” he said. “It's a cool deal - very colorful. The Westside is different from Manitou, different from Colorado Springs. It seems to me, not to play upon that would be foolish.”
       Returning Western-themed elements include the above-mentioned Brulé (which combines Native American music with other influences); the Cowboy Church (this year with Grant Adkisson, a Christian minister and radio/TV personality); the Fast Draw (in which competitors dressed in Western garb see who can most speedily shoot out balloons using pistols loaded with blanks); gold-panning, sponsored by the Gold Prospectors of Colorado; the Rock Ledge Ranch blacksmiths; a mechanical bull; Red Herring Productions' Old West reenactors; and Clint Chartier (who will dress in American Indian style, set up a teepee in Bancroft, have his horse nearby and answer questions about the Plains Indians).
       For more information on the performers and scheduled events, see the 12-page Pro Promotions program, available beforehand at various news racks around the Westside (including the ore-cart rack at Colorado and Colbrunn) and also during the event.
       A late change, according to Wear, is the Jake Loggins Band playing instead of the Nocturnal Tomatoes May 25 at 1:30 p.m. in Bancroft.

Westside Pioneer article