T-Days adds to Old West lineup

       With a name evoking Colorado City's Old West past, the Memorial Day weekend Territory Days has always included activities and entertainment connected to that 1800s era.

While an observer checks out the busy scene from a second-floor Simpich Lofts balcony, attendees at the 2011 Territory Days eat, drink and get merry in the 2400 block of West Colorado Avenue.
Westside Pioneer photo

       There will be even more of that heritage at this year's festival, Saturday, May 26 to Monday, May 28. Added to the 2012 bill are two bands with historical ties - including the popular Brulé, returning after a two-year absence - two traditional dance groups and a specialist on American Indian lore in a large tepee in Bancroft Park.
       Admission to Territory Days is free, but fees are charged for some activities.
       Colorado Avenue between 23rd and 27th streets will be closed for the occasion, allowing some 200 vendor booths and activity areas to be set up along that part of the avenue and its side streets.
       Event times will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 26-27 and 10 to 6 Monday, May 28.
       There will be continuous live music and/or other entertainment in Bancroft Park each day.
       During sunny, dry weather such as last year's, crowds have been estimated in excess of 150,000 people.
       A new, non-historic offering that could prove popular is a zipline ride, according to Jim Wear, head of Pro-Promotions, which organizes Territory Days. Offered by the same vendor who does the event's “kid zone,” the ride will be set up near 23rd Street, with people climbing up a tower and then gliding down a 175-foot-long cable to the middle of the block. “That'll create a little excitement and help the vendors in that block,” Wear said.
       He also expects a possible crowd surge attending shows by two nationally popular country-western bands, one fronted by Casey James (3:15 p.m. May 28 - a late time change), the other by J.T. Hodges (4:30 p.m. May 27).
       But having Brulé back is the festival “biggie,” Wear believes. The South Dakota-based American Indian band, which combines Native American influences with other musical styles, had been a perennial festival favorite through 2009, but agreed to a regular show that kept them in Branson, Mo., for the past two years. They've just recently returned to touring.
       “We're really excited about getting them back,” he said. “Their fan base has been screaming at us, 'Where's Brulé?' Well, here they are.”
       In previous years, Brulé had set up at the far west end of the festival, next to 27th Street, but their new spot will be more centralized, just north of the avenue at 25th Street. The band will be playing at the top of the hour all three days from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
       According to the Brulé website, current band members include Paul LaRoche on keyboards; Nicole LaRoche (Paul's daughter) on flute; Shane LaRoche (Paul's son) on guitars; Vlasis on percussion; Lowery Begay on traditional drum and Kurt Olson on drum kit.
       Other Western-theme additions at Territory Days this year are (based on information from Wear and his official events program):
  • Bands - Pikes Peak Opry (10-11:30 a.m. May 27 in Bancroft), a country/western, bluegrass and gospel group which is known locally from playing at an area RV park.
  • Dancers - Sidekickers (11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. May 26 in Bancroft), including a Gold Rush “mini-musical” performance; and the Pikes Peak Square Dancers (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. May 27 in Bancroft), demonstrating this old-fashioned dance style and inviting participants.
  • Indian lore - Clint Chartier (Bancroft Park, all three days), who was a consultant on authenticity in the “Dances with Wolves” movie, will wear traditional regalia, working from an 18-foot Native American teepee, according to Wear. Demonstrations will include the application of warpaint on a horse. “I got hooked up with him from Brulé,” Wear said. “It's a neat, new, free feature that people will like.”
           Returning historically styled attractions, also in Bancroft, will include the Fast Draw competition (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-3 p.m. May 28) and the Cowboy Church Service (9-10 a.m. May 27).
           Throughout the festival, Bancroft will also host regular shoot-'em-up skits by the Wyoming Territory Regulators (a new gunfighting group this year), demonstrations by the Rock Ledge Ranch blacksmiths and tours of Garvin Cabin by the Old Colorado City Historical Society.
           Other offerings with Old West overtones (available ongoing) will be the mechanical bull ride in the 2300 block and Gold Prospectors of Colorado in the 2600 block.
           A Memorial Day ceremony will be May 28 at 9:50 a.m., featuring the NORAD North Command Joint Color Guard, and a moment of silence will be at 3 p.m. (a time that's in keeping with the established National Moment of Remembrance) in honor of American military members who have died in the service of their country.
           Other bands will be Ben Knighten, 6035, Jeffrey Alan Band, Jake Loggins Band, Southern Belle, Some Peoples' Kids, the Black Rose Band, Slightly Bent and the Voodoo Hawks. They will play at either or both Bancroft and the OK Corral Saloon (a drinking area with a stage in the public parking lot on the south side of the 2600 block). Details on times and locations can be found in Pro-Promotions' free Territory Days program and will also be provided in the May 24 Westside Pioneer.
           A two-piece band, Inka Gold, will again play Andean music at their booth in the 2300 block on a regular basis throughout the festival.
           Another popular returning booth will be the Hawkquest birds of prey exhibit/demonstrations in the 2600 block.
           The Territory Days “kid zone” (children's activities/ rides) will be offered for the second straight year in the Old Town Plaza parking lot at 25th and Colorado. There will also be a kiddy train on 24th Street and pony rides in the 2300 block.
           In addition, most Old Colorado City businesses will be open.
           No open liquor is allowed at Territory Days, but two event drinking locations will be provided - the previously mentioned OK Corral in the 2600 block and the Beer Garden in Colbrunn Court next to Bancroft Park.
           Parking is limited in the neighborhoods around Old Colorado City, and visitors are advised to park at either Coronado High School or Rock Ledge Ranch. Free shuttle buses will run to and from those parking lots every 15 minutes on the average, according to Wear.
           Handicapped parking will be available in the city lot at Cucharras and 26th and also in marked, on-street spaces on Cucharras west of 27th Street.
           Wear said alleviating parking issues is part of Pro-Promotions' effort to help surrounding neighborhoods. Crews will also be picking up trash in areas outside the event. He added that he was pleased that almost no neighborhood complaints were heard after the 2011 event, despite the large attendance numbers.
           Preparations for Territory Days will start about 7 p.m. Friday, May 25, with the closure of the avenue.
           Territory Days is sponsored by the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group, which profits from the event, allowing it to market the historic shopping district throughout the year.

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