Grant County’s ’62 Days Celebration commemorated its 100th year over the weekend when the two-day festival kicked off on June 11 at Sels Brewery in Canyon City.
Roughly 1,500 people turned out for the event marking the discovery of gold in Canyon Creek in 1862, according to Colby Farrell from the Whiskey Gulch Gang, which organizes the event.
The celebration — both kid and adult-friendly — had something for everyone. People gathered in the downtown park for live music, vendor booths and a wide array of other events to celebrate the “spirit of 1862.”
The parade kicked off at 11 a.m., starting from Humbolt Elementary, and meandered its way down the highway past Canyon City Park, where emcee Mark Bagett introduced each float.
The floats included the Whiskey Gulch Gang can-can girls performing their high-kick dance routine in their frilly saloon dresses, taekwondo students, Jack Young, the 2021 parade grand marshal, and many more.
A mock fight spilled out of Sels Brewery, escalating into a gunfight in the middle of town. After a hail of gunfire, a cowboy surrendered his weapon. Moments later, the townspeople led the outlaw to the gallows and charged him with rioting and looting.
Children had no shortage of activities. They panned for gold with Bud Irwin, competed in a watermelon eating contest, dug for treasure in a wood shavings pit and got their faces painted.
With temperatures upwards of 90 degrees, the Canyon City Fire Department shot a fire hose up into the air to cool things down.
Longtime Grant County resident Beth Spell, whose family goes back three generations, said she appreciates what the Whiskey Gulch Gang does in putting on the festival each year. She said it was good to see so many young families with kids at the celebration.
Kenny Clement, who grew up in Long Creek, said he had never been to ’62 Days. He said he brought his family with him to enter chili in the cook-off on behalf of 1188, where he works as a cook. Clement said he thought it would be a great place to bring his two kids, Kianne and Dawson, 8 and 10, because of the kid-friendly activities.
Grant County resident Heather Swank said she is glad the community holds the event each year. She said the history and discovery of gold in Canyon City are both essential to remember.
“History,” she said, “is what made us who we are today.”