Cowtown leaps forward to celebrate Roaring ’20s

Old Cowtown Museum
Old Cowtown Museum File photo

Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita is taking a big step out of its comfort zone this weekend with a day to celebrate the Roaring ’20s.

“This is probably the event we’ve done that’s most outside our time period,” executive director Jacky Goerzen said.

Goerzen said that after brainstorming among staff and volunteers, the 1920s seemed ripe for a celebration on the Old Cowtown grounds.

“We’re not going to forsake our mission or anything, but try something different,” she said. “People who like to re-enact enjoy learning about different time periods. You get attached to the one you really want, but it’s neat to explore different ones, too.”

While exploring the 1920s on Saturday, re-enactors will create the atmosphere of a speakeasy – including a Prohibition-era raid – as well as a gangster-fueled bank robbery and the 1929 stock market crash.

Clips of movies from the ’20s also will be shown throughout the day.

Visitors can ride in 1920s-era automobiles and see a flyover from an era-appropriate biplane. Cowtown curator James Vannurden, Goerzen said, helped secure the plane and the automobiles.

Some of the costumes for staff and volunteers are provided by Foggy Bottom, Goerzen added, and the store is providing prizes for winners of a visitor costume contest.

The 1920s, Goerzen said, is a time period that sometimes falls into the cracks in the 21st-century subconscious.

“Everybody thinks about the ’30s with the gangsters, and the Depression that came after, and World War II later and all that,” she said. “The ’20s kind of gets missed, and it was kind of that golden, gilded age – the age of Gatsby and that kind of stuff.”

A Friday night party preceding the Roaring ’20s day will carry a similar theme and music, she said. The $15-per-person gathering at the Empire House will include free admission to Saturday’s events.

Cowtown has strayed from its 1865 to 1880 time period for events replicating the Civil War, Goerzen said, but this is the furthest stretch from its time line.

Goerzen said she would have to wait until seeing Saturday’s crowd before deciding if the Roaring ’20s tribute would be an annual event.

“If we feel like it has a good reception, it’s probably something we’ll do again,” she said.

Roaring ’20s day

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10

Where: Old Cowtown Museum, 1865 W. Museum Blvd., Wichita

How much: $7.75 adults age 18-61, $6.50 for 62 and older, $6 for youth 12-17 and $5.50 for children 4-11; free for children 3 and younger and Cowtown members

Information: 316-350-3323 or oldcowtown.org