Gray skies and rain did not deter people from attending the 101st ’62 Days Celebration over the weekend.
The festivities kicked off Friday, June 10, at Sels’ Brewery in Canyon City.
Upwards of 1,000 people attended the two-day event marking the discovery of gold in Canyon Creek in 1862, according to Colby Farrell of the Whiskey Gulch Gang, which, along with other groups in the community, organized the event.
Despite the rain, the celebration offered something for both kids and adults as people gathered in the downtown park or moved indoors for live music, vendor booths, and a wide array of other events to celebrate the “Spirit of 1862.”
The celebration also included Saturday’s Gold Rush Run 5K with more than 50 people running or walking the path which kicked off in front of Sel’s Brewery. Eden Dona, 19, took first in the men’s category while Olivia Boller, 28, took first in the women’s.
Farrell said one highlight of this year’s ‘62 Days Celebration was the revived medicine wagon show hosted by Painted Sky Center for the Arts. Essentially a talent show, the event was slated to be held at Canyon City Park but moved indoors to the Canyon City Community Center due to the rain.
Farrell said that organizers nearly managed to fill the upstairs portion of the Community Center. He praised emcee Aiden Taylor for keeping the proceedings moving smoothly with significant audience and performer participation.
“(Taylor) did a really good job,” Farrell said. “I was really impressed and happy with what he did.”
The Luce Creek Livestock 4-H group organized this year’s parade, which kicked off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 11. (The group also put together a watermelon eating contest, which was won by Haven Griffen.)
Coinciding with a break in the rain, the parade started at Humbolt Elementary in Canyon City and meandered its way down Highway 395 past Canyon City Park, with Mark and Logan Bagett as emcees.
Participants included the Whiskey Gulch Gang can-can girls performing their high-kick dance routine in frilly saloon dresses, the Grant County Fair and Rodeo court on horseback, a group of tae kwon do students, Grand Marshals Rusty and Peggy Clark and many more.
Farrell said rain or shine, they would have held the parade no matter what, although he thought the parade might have had a few more horses had the weather been dry. He said horses do not do that well on wet concrete.
All things considered, he said, the parade was well attended.
As is part of the ‘62 Days Celebration each year, a mock fight spilled out of Sels’ Brewery, escalating into a gunfight in the middle of town. Finally, after a hail of gunfire, a cowboy, portrayed by Jeff Cook, surrendered his weapon.
Moments later, “townspeople” Farrell and Jeremy Newman led the outlaw to a gallows set up in front of the brewery and brought him up on charges, followed immediately by a mock hanging.
With people mingling in and around the downtown park and then retreating indoors to either Sels’ Brewery or the Community Center, the Spirit of 1862 was on full display.