OCC's 43rd annual Territory Days thrives on good weather, behavior
Blessed by sunny weather (with just a few passing clouds), the 43rd annual Territory Days lived up to its reputation as one of the region's biggest events by attracting its usual thousands of visitors over Memorial Day weekend, May 26- 28.
As always, the festival closed off Colorado Avenue between 23rd and 27th streets, filling the space with 200-some vendor booths, performers in various locations and kids rides.
The Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group organizes the event as a fundraiser to help cover the costs of marketing the historic shopping district.
Jim Wear, the OCCA's event coordinator through his Pro Promotions company, reported only minor problems, other than a "few incidents" with attendees during the warmer weather of the first two days. "Heat and alcohol don't mix," he commented. As for the residential neighborhood surrounding Old Colorado City, Wear happily announced that he'd only gotten one complaint.
Started as a barbecue and small parade in 1975 by merchants seeking to revitalize "Old Town," the event is a nod to 1862, when the original Colorado City was briefly the capital of the Colorado Territory.
As such, this year's Territory Days offered its traditional Old West emphasis, including a tepee with artifacts by Indian specialist Clint Chartier, the Northern Wind Native Dancers, interactive gold-panning, roaming actors in 19th century apparel and Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) volunteers in period costume manning Bancroft Park's 1859 Garvin Cabin.
In addition, the OCCHS' History Center (across the street from the park) was again set up with a model-train set styled after the early/mid-20th century, supplied by Chris Fox, who's also involved with the restoration of the 1909 roundhouse in Hugo.
Missing for unfortunate reasons were three Territory Days regular acts - the Rock Ledge Ranch blacksmiths (a hand injury), the gunslinging reenactor group (illness) and the petting zoo (car trouble and a hotel reservation mix-up), explained Wear.
A tradition he's started since taking over as coordinator is organizing a ceremony in Bancroft Park around the National Moment of Remembrance (observed at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day), which honors those who've died fighting America's wars. Performing in conjunction with the ceremony was the 101st Army Winds of the Colorado National Guard and the U.S. Northern Command Color Guard from NORAD.
Charlease Elzenga, an OCCHS volunteer who demonstrated a spinning wheel and loom outside the Bancroft cabin while dressed in old-time garb, attracted questions from many festival attendees. The one she said she liked best came from an older woman whose mother had been a weaver but never had the chance to try the craft herself. So meeting Elzenga gave her the long-desired opportunity.
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