T-Days weather: Clear to partly crowded
Annual, well-attended Old Colorado City festival overcomes major wind worries
The reports of Territory Days being blown away by a gust of wind Saturday, May 26 were greatly exaggerated. Otherwise, organizer Jim Wear of Pro-Promotions was all smiles after the 37th annual three-day festival in Old Colorado City over Memorial Day weekend.
He doesn't even think the May 26 forecasts - including media warnings that it was too dangerous to go outside - hurt the event's crowds overall. That day's numbers might have been down a bit but the next day, May 27, was “wall-to-wall people,” and with continuing kind weather May 28, Wear gauged attendance for this year's Territory Days as within the 150,000 range of the previous two years.
As always, the free-admission festival closed off Colorado Avenue between 23rd and 27th streets for rows of white-tented vendors, kids' areas, musicians, various attractions and two drinking area. Bancroft Park was also a hub of activity.
Started by Old Town merchants in the mid-1970s (initially using a parade), the event is a loosely based celebration of Colorado City's early days as one of the Colorado Territory's bigger towns - even briefly as its capital in 1862.
Wear said the festival was a success on multiple levels. No one was hurt, there were no event-related arrests, no neighborhood complaints came in, and event vendors reported strong sales. “There were tons of people, but it was very enjoyable,” he said.
A similar assessment was given by Sgt. L.C. Morgan, the special-events coordinator for City Police. “When I don't get phone calls afterward, that tells me it was a good event,” he commented, adding praise for Wear as a “total professional who knows how to run events.”
Morgan added that police, who typically ticket dozens of illegally parked cars during Territory Days, tried to keep even closer tabs on that situation this year. A little over 100 citations were written, along with 40 warnings. In general, he said that parking officers' efforts “did seem to ease the minds of businesses and residents in that area.”
One of the methods to relieve neighborhood parking pressure is the free shuttle-bus service. For many years, Coronado High School was the only shuttle parking area, but Wear, who took over as organizer in 2010, added the Rock Ledge Ranch parking lot that year, with buses dropping off attendees at both the west and east ends of the festival. During peak times May 26-28, up to 10 buses were on the road at the same time, and there were still people waiting in line in the parking lots, Wear said.
The roughly $6,000 shuttle cost is covered by the event host, the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group, he noted. The festival is a fundraiser for the OCCA, which uses earnings to promote the Westside shopping area.
A new highlight for this year's Territory Days was Clint Chartier, who dressed in full Plains Indians regalia, set up an 18-foot tepee in Bancroft Park, gave talks on Indian lore and was often seen riding bareback on his white Andalusian horse, Iinero, around the event.
A memorable moment for Wear was when Chartier showed up on Iinero during a show on 25th Street by Brule, an American Indian band (whose members are friends of his) that had returned to this year's festival after a two-year absence. “Brule was playing a song called 'Spirit Horse' and he was there, with his horse prancing around,” Wear said. “It was very majestic.”
Chartier, a half-blooded American Indian who assisted with the 1990 “Dances with Wolves” movie and travels around giving presentations about Indian life, said he enjoyed the festival even if there were times when it was literally too crowded to ride at all. He left his tepee open during the day for people to go inside and observe authentic Indian items he had on display. He also answered numerous questions from attendees and estimated that he had his picture taken at least 2,000 times. “Any chance I get to talk about the native people, I enjoy doing it,” Chartier said.
Another new activity that was a hit this year was the zipline, in which people walked up a roughly 20-foot tower and then glided down a cable about 175 feet to the ground. The ride, costing $6 for one ride and $8 to go twice, helped attract more people to the 2300 block, which usually is less crowded during the festival, Wear said.
Through a local country station, the event again brought two nationally charted bands to Bancroft Park this year, one fronted by J.T. Hodges May 27, the other by Casey James May 28. The latter was especially popular, with people packing the park to take in his concert, Wear said.
Popular continuing activities included the gold panning, the Hawk Quest birds of prey, the Garvin Cabin in Bancroft Park (manned by Old Colorado City Historical Society volunteers) and the “Kid Zone” children's rides area and junior-sized riding train.
The festival again included an emphasis on patriotism. For the national Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. Monday (Memorial Day), the NORAD U.S. NORTHCOM joint color guard marched to the front of the Bancroft stage, at which time Wear spoke about the importance of remembering the sacrifices veterans have made.
Westside Pioneer article