Want to learn poker? Gaming Parlor among historic touches at Territory Days May 27-29

       Territory Days, a celebration of the old days, will add more blasts from the past May 27-29 in Old Colorado City.
       Possibly the most obvious sign will be the Gaming Parlor - a new attraction inside a 40-by-20-foot tent where people laying down a $5 “ante” can learn such card games as blackjack and Texas Hold 'Em. One of the gambling experts will be dressed as famous Western figure Doc Holliday. “You can play poker with Doc Holliday; how fun is that?” said event coordinator Lynda Dunne in a recent interview.
       Colorado Avenue between 23rd and 27th streets will be closed off for the 30th annual event over Memorial Day weekend. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 27-28 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, May 29.
       Another new, historically geared event will be a half-hour Memorial Day ceremony at 10 a.m. May 29 in Bancroft Park. The Sheriff's Department Color Guard will appear, and local dignitaries will read excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution and the Gettysburg Address. “We're hoping its very touching,” Dunne said. “Because this is what we're all about, what we fought for, taking pride in America. Maybe this is something we need to do every year.”
       History will also be served in new ways with a Victorian dance group that will perform three times May 28 and in between mingle with the crowd, the Red Herring performing group walking around in historic garb all three days, and - depending on how successful Dunne is in her pre-event appeals - increased numbers of merchants, vendors and attendees dressed in old-time apparel.
       Returning old-time activities will be gunfight enactments, Indian dancers, blacksmith demonstrations, the Territorial Jail and gold-panning.
       Attractions that are not necessarily in a historic theme will include bands playing continuously in the Bancroft Park bandshell all three days (topped by Phat Daddy and the Phat Horn Doctors at 2:30 p.m. May 29), kids' rides, two alcoholic-drink areas, street musicians, a mechanical bull ride and a birds of prey booth.
       “We have some real exciting things going on, this being our 30th anniversary,” Dunne exulted.
       The event is sponsored by the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group.
       Territory Days started in 1976 when Westsider Dave Hughes, with other business and civic leaders, organized a parade honoring Old Colorado City's contributions to Colorado history during the state's Bicentennial celebration. Over time, the event evolved into a three-day street festival, with numerous attractions and some 200 vendor booths, that attracts an estimated 140,000 people in good weather.
       The event is also a fund-raiser for the OCCA, with proceeds from sponsorships, booth rentals and vendor sales footing much of the bill the rest of the year for marketing the historic shopping district and for special events that provide exposure (but little or no money).
       Most Old Colorado City merchants' retail shops will be open throughout the festival - sometimes with music of their own, sidewalk sales or other activities.
       People driving to Territory Days are asked to park at the Coronado High School lot and ride into Old Town on a shuttle bus. For the first time since the shuttle was offered, it will be free of charge this year as part of a merchant effort to reduce the festival's impact on surrounding neighborhoods.
       For those who do park in the neighborhoods, be advised that police have been asked to stringently enforce laws regarding parking, drunkenness and trash; there reportedly will be six officers assigned to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Westside Pioneer article