Old Colorado City’s Territory Days will kick off this Saturday, filling Colorado Avenue with vendors, street artists, food trucks, live music and a slew of entertainment.
The festival, in its 48th year, is the longest-standing event in Colorado Springs. Territory Days celebrates the history of Old Colorado City as the first territorial capital of Colorado.
“This was the richest area in Colorado at the time because of all the gold coming down from Cripple Creek,” said Jim Wear, Territory Days event organizer. “So, it was a very bustling area — lots of miners, lots of saloons, lots of brothels, lots of businesses.”
The street will be lined with hundreds of craft vendors and food stalls. More than 30 bands will perform at the festival across three stages.
The event is family-friendly, with a zone dedicated to kid activities. There, kids can pan for gold for free, and pay-to-play in bounce houses and bungee trampolines.
“We have huge numbers of families coming down,” Wear said. “There’s plenty of free stuff to do and there’s no admission, so literally a family can come down and spend hours and it doesn’t cost a dime.”
The weekend also will be filled with free entertainment provided by circus performers, birds of prey demonstrations and educational programs by the Old Colorado City Historical Society.
The Gold Prospectors of Colorado will also hold its annual gold panning championship.
“It really is an effort made for the community versus an event that’s put on that charges admission, which is primarily there to raise revenue,” Wear said.
“It is a nearly 50-year tradition, and lots of lots of people count on it, not just the attendees, but you know, all the bands that come in to play, all the vendors that come to sell their stuff, the people that rent the tents, the people that rent the generators, all those people — it’s millions and millions of dollars into the city,” he said.
Parking might be the biggest challenge of the festival, Wear said, because the street is closed for the festival. But there are plenty of options, including parking at Coronado High School and taking a free shuttle to the event. Wear also encourages biking or Ubering to the event to avoid traffic.
As for advice, Wear said get there early, and have a good time.
“Enjoy yourselves,” he said. “Everywhere you look there’s something going on, so it’s not hard to be entertained for hours once you get there.”