Monday, January 12, 2009


Sunday, after a hearty Breakfast at Brownie’s Café, we tripped over to the Yuma Territorial Prison to watch a Gathering Of The Gunfighters. They had re-enactment groups from California, Nevada and Arizona at this particular annual affair. They have a three day competition and judging of their skills and costuming. Notable was the knock-up western buildings which, while small, weren’t far from the real time shacks and shanties of old West towns.
Today, Gunfighter groups are so popular they are divided into eras. The 1850’s, the 1880’s, early 1900s. Some are fancy “Dan” gamblers and Shady Ladies, Spanish Vacqueros, and Basque Herders or an outlaw gang or simple western cowpunchers. These groups first competition was in the form of a skit. One depicted the lawlessness of the old West and the repercussions of new rules preventing the carrying of guns into the saloons. Another about western Mayors and Sheriff’s bribing Mexicans to vote for them, even when they ignored them the rest of the year, and so on. It was entertaining even if a bit corny. The costuming was rich. Perhaps the serious competition was slated for later in the day.
I’ve seen gunfighter groups who ply their hobby with such seriousness that the altercation they re-enact is anything but corny. It is so realistic, babies cry, dogs howl and grown men shiver at what the Old West was really like.

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