‘Age of the Gunfighter’ means shoot-’em-up time at Old Cowtown Museum

08/26/2014 5:29 PM

08/26/2014 5:29 PM

Be prepared for a rip-snorting, gun-toting, shoot-’em-up time at the Old Cowtown Museum.

Saturday is the “Age of the Gunfighter,” an all-day event that features gunfights and fast-draw contests at Cowtown, 1865 W. Museum Blvd.

The event is expected to draw nearly 75 Old West gunfighters from Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, said David Flask, director of the Old Cowtown Museum.

“This event certainly exemplifies what Cowtown is to a lot of people,” Flask said. “This weekend handles the stereotypical ‘Gunsmokey’ image of the era.

“It is not something we always portray. We’ve gotten away from the TV/movie version of the Old West.”

By Old West standards, the age of the gunfighter was 1865 to 1900. Through much of that time, Wichita flourished as one of the first cowtowns in the West. It was the days of Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson.

In 1872, Wichita had signs posted at all four main entrances into town: “Everything goes in Wichita. Leave your revolvers at police headquarters and get a check. Carrying concealed weapons strictly forbidden.”

But historically, Flask said, that didn’t mean there were always shoot-outs at high noon. That version of the story became popular with westerns on 1950s-era TV shows and movies.

“The ‘Age of the Gunfighter’ allows people to jump on the Matt Dillon bandwagon and let people see what they might expect to see from that 1950s movie era,” Flask said.

Gunfights will be presented every half-hour from 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Saturday in front of Cowtown’s Fritz Snitzler’s Saloon and the jailhouse yard.

Other events include the Dixie Lee Saloon Girls at 1 and 2 p.m. in the saloon and performances by the Entre Nous Victorian Dance Club at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. in Turnverein Hall.

For more details, go to www.oldcowtown.org.

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @beccytanner

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