Territory Days to get (more) historic
Civil War camp, fast draw competition, Buffalo Soldiers ceremony added this year

       If there has been one steady criticism of Territory Days in recent times, it's that the annual three-day blast in Old Colorado City has gotten too sales-oriented, losing some of the historical emphasis that led to its creation 31 years ago.
       Lynda Dunne, who organizes the event for the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group, wants people to know she's heard these comments. And, while the number of vendors (about 200) isn't going down - the event being a major fund-raiser for the merchants - she and the OCCA are bringing in several new historical acts for the May 26-28 Territory Days while keeping the existing ones.
       “The reality is, Territory Days is a huge community endeavor and it's not all about history,” Dunne observed. “It would be neat to have an event like that, but it would not be a money-maker. But we have brought in many more historical events this year, and I'm proud of that, and we're going to build on that each year.”
       New will be the following:
  • Civil War encampment - A camp including four to six tents and a half-dozen soldiers uniformed in blue or grey will be set up all three days in a corner of Bancroft Park. Organizing the camp will be a reenactment group named after an actual Civil War Confederate unit named the 1st Louisiana Special Battalion. “We will be authentic from our underwear to our muskets,” said Paul Bennett, the head of the group. “It will be living history, and a chance for people to see what it was like to be a soldier during that time.”
  • Fast Draw competition - Scheduled Sunday, May 27 in the park, this will not be a participatory event, but a chance to watch experienced gun users - some of them costumed as Wild West characters such as Annie Oakley or Wild Bill Hickock - go against each other in a test of speed and accuracy. Real bullets will not be used. First prize will be a gold coin from the Cripple Creek and Victor mining company worth about $500. “It should be a lot of fun,” Dunne said.
  • Buffalo Soldiers - an area group that reenacts the saga of the black members of the U.S. cavalry who fought in the Indian wars of the post-Civil War American West. At the Monday, May 28 Memorial Day ceremony, “The group will bring horses and arrange for an officer to read the proclamation that allowed black soldiers into the cavalry,” Dunne said.
  • Street history - Two acting groups will perform historical vignettes in the street throughout the event. Some of this will involve their interacting with people, in character. Dunne said this could prove interesting: “Some people will be taken off-guard, and others will get into it.”
  • Pony rides - For ages 10 and under, riding in a circle.

           In addition, some of Territory Days' traditional Old West-style activities will be enhanced this year, as follows:
  • The Cowboy Church on Sunday morning, May 27 will have the Colorado Wranglers, formerly with the Flying W Ranch, as the featured musicians.
  • There will be two, instead of one, gunfighting enactment groups. One of these, the Gunfighters of the Resurrection, will mostly be doing skits emanating from the Gaming Parlor along the avenue, while the Gold Canyon Gunfighters will perform chiefly in the park.
           Continuing historically themed activities will be the gold-panning area; the Gaming Parlor (learning to play poker and other games of chance with costumed western characters); the Side Kickers dance group with its “Gold Rush Show” Sunday, May 27 at 11 a.m.; and old-fashioned train rides for small children, Dunne said.
           The original Territory Days was a parade, inspired by the Colorado Centennial of 1976, followed by a historical skit in Bancroft Park about early Colorado City.
           Territory Days this year will take place along Colorado Avenue, Bancroft Park and parts of side streets between 23rd and 27th streets, starting at 10 a.m. daily. It will also include several live bands (headed by Whiskey Falls May 26 at 2 p.m. and Phat Daddy and the Phat Horn Doctors May 28 at 3:30 p.m.), dance acts, activities and rides in Bancroft Park or on the street. A free shuttle bus will run every 15 minutes from Coronado High School. See the May 24 Westside Pioneer for a full schedule and other details.

    Westside Pioneer article