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Territory Days returns for Memorial Day weekend | Arts and Entertainment

Old Colorado City was once the subject of a John Wayne movie.

The tiny town, tucked away between what is now Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, was then known as Colorado City and was teeming with gambling establishments, brothels, and saloons. Indian camps dotted the landscape, cowboys roamed about on their steeds, and Laura Bell McDaniel was a madam of street authority.

Founded in 1859, Colorado City briefly served as the territorial capital and Colorado’s center of wealth due to the gold flowing from Cripple Creek. It was the miners’ first stop on their way down the mountain, where they spent their newfound wealth on hedonistic entertainment.

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And we celebrate its rich history every year (with the exception of the last two) with Territory Days, when a free Memorial Day Weekend Festival takes place along Colorado Avenue, between 23rd and 27th Streets.

“This is a celebration of the original territorial capital of Colorado and everything that comes with it,” said Jim Weir, president of Promotions and organizer of Territory Days.

You can still see some of the history today if you walk through Bancroft Park in the heart of Old Colorado City. The old Garvin cabin, built by Dr. Charles Garvin in 1859, was used as a territorial metropolitan building until government officials arrived from Washington, D.C. They toured the primitive cabin before heading down the road to Denver, where people showed off the grander building and told the DC group they would give it up to become the state capital.

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A few years later, in 1917, Colorado City’s history came to an end when it was annexed to Colorado Springs.

This year’s event is especially important for Wear as it is the first festival since 2019 not to be canceled due to the pandemic.

“Two years of cancellation is almost like starting over,” Weir said. “We have a full schedule of groups, a full range of providers, features and entertainment. We look forward to what will look like traditional, regular Territory Days.”

Visitors can expect all the music, homemade craft vendors, festival food, and beer garden adventures from yesteryear. Minor changes include more seating for spectators in Bancroft Park due to renovations over the past three years and an expanded children’s area.

Irish all-female musical ensemble Celtic Woman will perform in Colorado Springs.

Parking can be a struggle. Visitors are encouraged to use the free shuttle service from Coronado High School during the weekend. Or ride your bike or a bike from PikeRide, an electric bike delivery company. The nonprofit will offer a free bike valet for bike users, and if you ride Pike-Ride to its bike tent, your ride will be paid upon arrival.

Wear loves the festival for the amount of free entertainment on the three stages.

“It’s not like most of your music festivals, where tickets cost hundreds of dollars,” he said. “If you can get down there, you won’t have to spend a dime. There is no other festival in this region that features as many and types of vendors and bands as Territory Days.”

Contact writer: 636-0270

Contact writer: 636-0270

Contact writer: 636-0270

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