Colorado's Largest Street Fair

Territory Days: Music, Food, Crafts, Culture + Patriotism

Great food.

Thirty-five bands on three stages.

Hundreds of unique vendors.

The first Territory Days was just a simple craft fair and parade down Colorado Avenue. Nearly a half century later, it’s the largest street fair in Colorado. 

“The police department will say 50,000 people a day,” said Jim Wear, longtime organizer of the event. “It’s really impossible to count. It is by all accounts the biggest, best attended event of the year in Colorado Springs.”

After being cooped up all winter, this is the first big outdoor gathering. And “Old Colorado City is just a really cool place,” Wear said. “If you had it in a farmer’s field or a mall parking lot, it just wouldn’t be as cool.”

Historical Celebration

Territory Days got its name because Old Colorado City (which at the time was simply Colorado City) was Colorado’s first territorial capital, in the 1860s. It joined the union as the 38th state in 1876.

“This was the richest place in the state because of all the gold coming down from Cripple Creek,” said Wear, whose Pro Productions is co-organizing the event his year with Aponi Productions. 

Although the gold strike was relatively short lived, remnants remain, including the old Garvin cabin built in 1859. It served as the territorial capital building until folks from Washington visited and decided a more dignified location might be more appropriate if Colorado were to become a state.

At the time, one side of Colorado Avenue featured shops and regular businesses. The other side held saloons and brothels. Tunnels ran underneath the street, so “respectable” men could travel back and forth without being seen.

Three Full Days of Fun

These days, Old Colorado City turns into a giant party for all ages every Memorial Day weekend, with activities from bygone days as well as the latest and greatest for kids and adults alike.

“We really try to cater to the kids,” Wear said. “We have a lot of stuff for the kids to do. … All the entertainment is family friendly.”

In addition to the crafts and the food, check out the mechanical bull, gold panning, kids’ play area, petting zoo, Cowboy Church Service, toy train rides, beer gardens, period-costumed characters, Native American dancers and more!

“We have worked very hard to provide people with the entertainment and handmade, one-of-a-kind goods that you can’t find anywhere else.”

One of the things that has drawn a larger crowd over the last decade is that organizers have brought back a Memorial Day observance with a moment of silence, a color guard and a band from Fort Carson.

“We guarantee people will have a great time,” Wear said, adding that he would be remiss if he didn’t give credit to the Old Colorado Merchants Association. “They are really the ones responsible for continuing the tradition.”

Website: https://www.shopoldcoloradocity.com/territory-days
Facebook: @old.colorado.city
Instagram: @oldcoloradocity

Two tips: 1. Leave the pups at home, if possible. 2. Parking can be tough, especially later in the day. Ride a bicycle or motorcycle, carpool or park at Coronado High School, and ride the shuttle. 

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