Inside the Capitol

Thursday, July 27, 2006

7-31 Old Lincoln Days

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Lincoln, New Mexico, perhaps the most authentic Wild West town in the nation, holds its annual celebration this weekend, August 5 and 6.
Unlike most historic towns, which have been restored, Lincoln has been preserved, just as it was 130 years ago, during the Lincoln County War and the days of Billy the Kid. It has never changed.
If Billy the Kid returned today, he'd feel right at home -- as long as he stayed away from descendents of any of the sheriffs he killed.
No new structures have gone up and nothing has been torn down to make way for a gas station or convenience store. Lincoln is unspoiled.
The village is now almost totally owned by the state. Eleven buildings comprise the Lincoln State Monument, administered by the state's Department of Cultural Affairs.
Old Lincoln Days gets started Friday evening, August 4, with folkloric dancers at 6:30, followed by a reenactment of Billy the Kid's Last Escape at 8:30 p.m.
On Saturday, the action begins at 11 a.m. with the BTK Invitational Fast Draw Shooting contest and a performance by Ron Grimes as Pat Garrett.
Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. Robert Utley, the nation's leading authority on Billy the Kid and Lincoln, will lecture, followed by another reenactment of the Last Escape of Billy the Kid at 8:30 p.m.
On Sunday, at 10 a.m., the Fast Draw Shooting Competition concludes. At 11 a.m., Pony Express riders coming from White Oaks will arrive at the Post Office, followed by the big parade.
At noon, local historian Drew Gomber will speak on the life and death of Billy the Kid. Drew is a colorful character, who is very enjoyable to watch. The celebration ends at 3 p.m. with a final reenactment of Billy the Kid's Last Escape.
Throughout the weekend, there will be living history demonstrations and musical entertainment. Arts, crafts and food vendors will be located throughout the town. Events and lectures are free. The museum and pageant are $5 apiece. The town of Lincoln is 12 miles east of Capitan on U.S. 380. Call 505-653-4372 for more information.
A visit to Lincoln is well worth the trip and there is no better time than Old Lincoln Days to visit the capital of Billy the Kid Country.
You can walk down the street, once known as the most dangerous street in America, in the footsteps of Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett and other infamous characters involved in the 1878-1881 Lincoln County War.
Visit the old Lincoln County Courthouse, where Billy killed two deputies in his daring escape. The bullet holes are still there. Up the street is the Tunstall store, behind which are the graves of Alexander McSween and John Tunstall.
Stick around the area and enjoy the Lincoln County Fair, August 8-12, in Capitan, the home of Smokey Bear. On August 12 and 13, nearby Fort Stanton celebrates the 151st anniversary of its establishment. Troops from Fort Stanton played a key role in the Lincoln County War.
Then head up to Fort Sumner for the DeBaca County Fair, August 12-14. See Billy the Kid's grave and the Bosque Redondo Memorial, where over 9,000 Navajo and Mescalero people were held in captivity from 1863-1868.
Also next week, a film crew from the British Broadcasting Corporation will be in the state filming scenes for a coming BBC Billy the Kid special. The focus will be on whether territorial Gov. Lew Wallace should have pardoned Billy as he promised and whether Gov. Bill Richardson should make good that promise.
The state Tourism Department is participating in Billy the Kid related events this year as part of a legislative appropriation to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Billy the Kid's death.
I understand that the final chapter of historian Marc Simmons compilation of columns on Billy the Kid will give a perspective on everything that has happened since Billy was laid to rest in 1881. That will be a good read.
MON, 7-31-06

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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