Arizona: "Gunfighters draw down on Old West legends"


April 16, 2003, 08:49 PM
from the Arizona Republic draw down on Old West legends

Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 17, 2003 12:00 AM

A good motto for Saturday's Gunfighters Rendezvous might be: "Shoot first, answer questions later."

The fifth annual event at Pioneer Arizona Living History Village will offer food booths, vendors and wagon rides along with performances by the Arizona Gunfighters and five other re-enactment groups from around the state. It's all part of an effort to educate visitors about Arizona's territorial days of the late 1800s.

"We call ourselves living historians of the Old West," says Jeff Johnson of the Arizona Gunfighters. "The stories we put on are about as historically correct as you can get."

The sponsor of the event, Arizona Gunfighters, was founded a decade ago and produces skits that tell the stories of such legends as Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson and Wild Bill Hickok. The presentation of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral begins a year before the showdown that took place in Tombstone.

The group consists of about 65 members, some of whom live as far away as Germany, and include men, women and youth of all ages. Johnson, 46, his wife and two children have participated with the Gunfighters for the past four years.

Although the event is to educate people about the state's frontier days through entertainment, it's not just about shooting pistols.

Johnson says they take time to teach kids about the importance of gun safety and show them that blanks are used in all firearms. They also tell youth to notify an adult if they ever come across cartridges, bullets or guns.

Marie Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Pioneer Arizona Living Village, says the event also is a fund-raiser to benefit the Old West town that features authentic buildings and historically accurate reproductions.

"It's a wonderful event," Robinson says. "They (groups) are happy to have a place to do their re-enactments, and we are happy to have them."

Johnson says some people shy away from gun-related events and admits that at times their shows can be controversial, but he says, "it's a fact and what happened in history."

"It's our history; it's written history," he adds.

"Good or bad, there is nothing we can really change about it."

Reach the reporter (602) 444-8671.

Gunfighters Rendezvous

WHAT: Re-enactments of Arizona territorial gunfighters by performance groups from around the state.

WHERE: Pioneer Arizona Living History Village, 3901 W. Pioneer Road, Phoenix. Take Interstate 17 north to Exit 225, then go west.

WHEN: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; performances on the hour.

ADMISSION: $7 general, $6 seniors, $5 students, $4 ages 3-5.

DETAILS: (623) 465-1052 or

Copyright 2003,

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April 16, 2003, 11:41 PM
Sounds like a dang good time.
:( I won't be there.:(

April 17, 2003, 12:14 AM
Wish I could see it. Actually wish I could help put it on.

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