Eee-haw. Mamas don’t let you kids grow up to be cowboys, cause the field is already corralled by singing cowpoke Michael Martin Murphey and his traveling wild west show called Westfest.
Organizers of Westfest have big hopes for the horse and pony show, which Murphy said is based on Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. The Pikes Peak Range Riders Foundation sponsors it.
It made its Colorado Springs debut last year after pulling out of Vail because there wasn’t enough of an economic base to support the festival.
For downtown businesses, a successful turnout could result in a mini-bonanza. Additionally, Westfest organizers and staff will require as many as 1,000 motel rooms.
Jon Schultz of the Range Rider’s Foundation said at last year’s festival 10,000 tickets were sold. Projections were for 8,000.
“It was very successful,” Schultz said. “This year we expect 15,000 tickets will be sold.”
The economic impact on the city will be big, but obviously won’t be known until after the festival ends. About 10 organizations have been selling tickets for the event, and receive a generous commission for the sales, Schultz said.
“This is not intended as a profit maker for any one individual” Schultz said. “The money goes right back into the community.”
Fiesta Friday, June 21, starts at 6 p.m. at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, with an Indian-Spanish Fine Art Market, followed by a concert at 8 p.m. The market runs through June 23. The featured artist is Ed Posa, a Pueblo resident whose style involves the use of watercolors and gouache. He produces images “blend(ing) traditional Old World southwestern themes.”
Additional Westfest activities start June 27 at Penrose Equestrian Center, where free activities run from noon to 4:30 p.m. The free activities feature those for children such as face painting and a scavenger hunt, followed by a rodeo.
The rodeo starts at 5 p.m. at the equestrian center, followed by a dance. Price for the rodeo/dance is $12, those under 13 are free.
On Friday, June 28, Westfest continues at the Pikes Peak Center Grounds, where a re-creation of the Old West is on display. Cost for “The Best of the Real West” is $15 per person, children under 13 free. On display are exhibits of the old west with a cowboy camp, a Native American camp, and a mountain man camp.
Singer Michael Martin Murphey and others will entertain with more cowboy music and cowboy poetry. Murphey is the best-selling singer of American cowboy music and is known in the pop music circles. His signature tune, “Wildfire,” is one of the most frequently played songs in the history of radio.
The festival continues Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30, at the Pikes Peak Center. The hours are from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day. Cost is $21 daily, with children under 13 free.
The weekend entertainment features Murphey kicking off festivities at the main stage. He will be followed by performances of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Chely Wright, John Hiatt, Red Steagall, Eddie Three Eagles, Riders in the Sky, How Club of Cowtown, Pin Monkey, R.W. Hampton, Cowboy Nation, Joni Harms, Jo Anne Shennandoah, and Brenn Hill.
Westfest was founded in 1986 by Murphey and is his effort to preserve all things that embody the American West. Promoters said weekend events also feature things for kids to do, along with fine art and sculpture, western collectibles, and authentic trail food and barbeques.
For more information call 719/634-5583, or log on to www.csfineartscenter.org. For tickets, call Ticketmaster at 719/520-9090. You may also log on to www.westfest.net.