Buffalo Bill Days Held in Leavenworth Sept. 9-10 | Events
"Buffalo Bill Days...beginning of a new era!" The festival, which takes place Sept. 9-10, will aim to recreate some of the magic of one of Leavenworth's most successful legacies, Buffalo Bill Days, in celebration of the life and times of Buffalo Bill Cody.
But why bring back this legendary community festival after an over 20 year hiatus?
Wendy Scheidt, Director of the Leavenworth Main Street event said, "There was really no other choice during this sesquicentennial celebration of the state of Kansas we are, after all, the First City of Kansas! Add to that the fact that literally one week to the day of our usual annual fall festival hosted by Leavenworth Main Street; it is the 100th anniversary of Buffalo Bill's last speech in Leavenworth. What other theme could we have possibly chosen? It's been a "rough ride" putting together a show of this importance to the community in just a few short months, but it was worth it".
Meredith Thompson, Leavenworth Main Street President added, "There was an overwhelming community response to bring the Buffalo Bill Days annual festival back, and this seemed like the perfect year to do it". Buffalo Bill Days has also been officially included in the Kansas 150 Calendar of Events thanks to the efforts of Leavenworth Convention and Visitors Bureau's Connie Hachenberg.
In Leavenworth as an 11 year old boy he watched his abolitionist father speak out against slavery and then be mortally wounded for his bravery. He went on to support his family who remained in Leavenworth many years then joined up with the pony express then went on to be Chief of Scouts for the Third Cavalry. Later, after killing a reported 4,000 bison, Cody designed the notion of "hunting seasons" to preserve wildlife suffering decades of unregulated pursuit. He also became a great friend and advocate for Native Americans' rights and causes. In fact, Buffalo Bill Cody employed hundreds of Native Americans throughout his Wild West Show legacy, educating the world about how Native Americans fought with dignity against the armed force he had earlier represented.But, as the unprecedented showman that he was, he gave audiences what they wanted, often riding in at the end of battle reenactments on horseback with a flag that said "Too Late" implying that the Native American forces had underestimated their opponents. However, those who have insight into another message might argue that the flag was a subtle nod to the arrogance of Custer in his last stand in 1876 against Chief Sitting Bull, who not only became Cody's close friend, but a major player in the international theatrical sensation that thrilled audiences around the world, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. The NPR Historical Society further explored Bill's amazing life in NPR's Studio 360 Looks at Buffalo Bill and Western Myths.
Buffalo Bill Days will honor the relationship between Cody and Native American Nations with the internationally recognized talents of Dennis Rogers, a recent star of Farm Aid in Kansas City and in London, performing dances and story telling. Leavenworth Boy Scout Troop Mic-O-Say will also provide Native American dances and demonstrations on Saturday evening.
The master showman took the story of the old west around the world in the "Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show" where he was the main attraction not only for the masses but for royalty at the most important parties in Europe of the time. According to Bob Spear who has played Codyfor many years and will represent the icon with "Stories of the Wild West" as well as serving as MC at this year's Buffalo Bill Days, "Not only was Bill the toast of Europe, but he organized expeditions for visiting royalty in America who paid big dollars to experience the wild west in the way that only Bill Cody could show them".
It's no wonder that the City of Leavenworth takes real pride in the connection to this home town hero.
Not only is this the 150th anniversary of the state of Kansasand the century mark for Bill's last visit, but it also marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War. The festival would not be complete without reverence to the soldiers who fought to stabilize the freedom that all Americans enjoy today. The John Wornall Housewill highlight the local relevance of the war and the great spirit of the Buffalo Soldierwill be explained by actual members of the last 92nd Infantry in Leavenworth, sponsored by local business, DorMail.
"We want to host an event for not only the entire greater Leavenworth area, but for visitors from out of town who want to come and see what a great community this is and always has been", says Kansas Country Storeowner and Leavenworth Main Street Board Member, Sherry Brown. "It's been a whirlwind, but we're ready for a great weekend".
On Wednesday, September 7th, at 10:00 a.m. Kansas Country Store will feature the unveiling of a special edition, original commemorative painting, commissioned exclusively for this Buffalo Bill Days celebration as a special "kick off" event. Chances will be sold ($5.00 each or 3 for $10.00) for a drawing to win the original painting commemorating Buffalo Bill Days, 2011 at Kansas Country Store, September 7 - 10. A lucky winner will be chosen on Monday, September 12th, 10:00 a.m. at Kansas Country Store, 728 Cherokee (do not need to be present to win but more exciting if present!). A limited number of prints, signed by the artist, will be available at Kansas Country Store and the Leavenworth Main Street souvenir booth for $10 during Buffalo Bill Days. Unsigned prints will be available for $5.00. The Kansas Country Store is a major sponsor of this year's event.
There will also be square dancing, reenactors, live western drama, an homage to the Star of the West Saloon and plenty of fun games and activities for the whole family to enjoy like sack races, stick horse relays and a western dress costume contest. Plenty of old fashioned fun & excitement.
The Festival will host over 60 artists, merchants and concessionaires that provide goods and services complimentary to 1861 Leavenworth as well as highlighting the goods and services offered every day in historic Leavenworth, Kansas. Great local fare from Black Belt Barbeque, Leavenworth Lions Club, Café Chilingo, Graham Cakes & Café' and Jumpin'Joe's BBQ plus several not-for-profit organizations benefitting Leavenworth County including the United Way and the Leavenworth County Humane Society will line the streets and lots from 723 Cherokee to 6th & Cherokee.
Food and beverage offerings include fresh squeezed lemonade, hot dogs, Buffalo burgers and brats, chili, fried catfish, Kettle Korn, tropical sno, bakery items, tamales and more plus lots of great Kansas Barbeque, Keck's Longhorn Root Beerand so much more.
The Lecompton Reenactors, Gun Smoke and Petticoats, the John Wornall House, Dennis Arts and other dedicated period reenactors will create not only the opportunity for guests to learn about history, but to experience hours of free entertainment throughout both festival days.
In addition to these historic performances, local musicians will fill the air as guests shop and play. Merchants throughout the city are celebrating the festival with special offers for guests participating in the Downtown Gold Rush.
Great period music during the festival day will include the timeless sounds of great bands like the Short Leaf Band, Tim Daniels and the First City String Band, Don Spain, the East Creek Girls, Silas Dogan, Kansas Old Time, Fiddlers, Pickers and Singers and many more.
Each evening, the program will "burst the bubble" of the old west theme by welcoming country-rock bands County Road Five, True North, Southern Reignand Rusty Rierson- local and regional favorites with loyal followings. Live entertainment is scheduled on six stages throughout each Festival day: Friday September 9th from 3pm-11pm and Saturday, September 10th from 10am to 11 pm.
Free parking is available in local municipal lots and admission to the festival is also free. There are nominal fees for some of the games. Nearby banking institutions within walking distance will allow guests' access to ATMs for their food, beverage and shopping purchases.
More information and updates can be found at, www.leavenworthmainstreet.comor on Facebook at facebook.com/BuffaloBillDays or follow Buffalo Bill @KS_BuffaloBill.
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