Defeat of Jesse James Days


Readers of True West shouldn’t be surprised to hear that Minnesota’s largest all-volunteer celebration is the Defeat of Jesse James Days. “But of course,” you would say, rolling your eyes at the obvious claim.

You see, one of the qualities we love about the West is everyone’s enthusiasm for our shared heritage. So, sure, we can envision 40 die-hard Jesse James and Old West history buffs meeting around the table, every month (with multiple discussions in July and August), to maintain the integrity of the event.

Every fall since 1948, volunteers have worked with the Northfield Historical Society to tell the story about the Northfield townspeople who put their lives on the line to protect the community from the attempted bank robbery by the James-Younger Gang. Approximately 125,000 visitors from all over the world will come to this year’s event on September 8-12.

The passion for replaying history is not just found in Northfield, but also at all the living history blowouts represented here.


Virginia City Living History Weekends

Now through September 12, 2010 • Virginia City, MT



The Next Act: The Nevada City Museum isn’t the only act in town bringing history to life; your choices also include shows put on by the Brewery Follies and the Virginia City Players. Sometimes, though, you need a breather from all the excitement. You’ll find it at the city’s gateway to Western art, housed in a former telegraph office that connected Montana to Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1866. The Creighton Block Gallery is owned by former Mayor Colin Mathews and his wife Paula Craver.


Tombstone Vigilante Days

August 6-8, 2010 • Tombstone, AZ
800-457-3423 •


The Next Act: Just because the buds are not blooming on the world’s largest rose bush (spring is the season for that) does not mean you should overlook the Rose Tree Museum and Books. Talk about walking into history: the museum is still owned by descendants of the pioneer family that built the adobe home after reaching Tombstone by wagon train in 1880. You’ll see the family’s artifacts and furnishings, and historical photos of the town.


Fort Stanton Live!

August 6-8, 2010 • Fort Stanton, NM
575-354-0341 •


The Next Act: Caving was part of military duty, as soldiers had to know the “lay of the land.” In 1855, soldiers from Fort Stanton’s 1st Dragoons explored a nearby eight-mile limestone cave. The Fort Stanton Cave is closed for bat hibernation from November through April, so you’re in luck if you’re in town for the event. You can spend an afternoon among the same stalagmites and rock formations that those blue-wooled soldiers saw.


Montana Wild West Fest

August 14-15, 2010 • Helena, MT
406-458-3700 •


The Next Act: If your sweet tooth is acting up you must go to the Parrot Confectionery to get hand dipped chocolates. The chocolatiers have had some practice since they have been doing it since 1922. Locals order the “Parrot” candies by the pound. Be sure to get here early if it’s lunch time; otherwise you might be in for a wait as the locals line up for a bowl of “secret recipe” chili.


Jeremiah Johnson’s Jackson Hole Wilderness Ride

August 15-20, 2010 • Jackson Hole, WY

505-286-4585 •


The Next Act: Adrenaline still pumping? Go whitewater rafting on the Snake River; this part of the country was flooded with fur trappers in the 1820s. Even John “Liver Eating” Johnson (who the movie character Jeremiah Johnson is based on) trapped out here in the late 1840s. Jackson Hole Whitewater offers seasoned guides for your trip, from May through October.


John Wesley Hardin Re-enactment

August 19, 2010 • El Paso, TX
915-842-8200 •


The Next Act: Rock climb among the Kiowa and Apache pictographs at Hueco Tanks state natural area—40 miles east of El Paso.


Fort Bridger Rendezvous

September 3-6, 2010 • Fort Bridger, WY
432-213-5133 •


The Next Act: After working up a Mountain Man appetite from all that knife throwing and flintlock shooting, head to Bon Rico Supper Club in nearby Evanston. Big portions and fair prices are the norm. Locals recommend the rib eye steak, and they say they can’t get enough of the pickled vegetables.


Defeat of Jesse James Days

September 8-12, 2010 • Northfield, MN
800-658-2548 •


The Next Act: Last year, a local told us that the grocery store at La Vencedora serves the best homemade carnitas (on Saturdays and Sundays) and tamales in town. Don’t be thrown off by the new name, Sosa’s Market and Restaurant; this is still the best place to eat lunch in town.


Hell’s Canyon Mule Days

September 10-12, 2010 • Enterprise, OR


The Next Act: Snack on steamed clams cooked in wine, butter and garlic sauce while drinking an IPA at the Terminal Gravity Brewpub. The IPA is brewed with snowmelt water from Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness. Order the ESG (Extra Special Golden rye beer).


Fort Reno Tombstone Tales

September 16-18, 2010 • El Reno, OK
405-262-3987 •


The Next Act: Robert’s Grill is a local hole-in-the-wall onion burger establishment right off historic Route 66. Only 14 seats wrap around the large grill that cooks up delicious beef patties covered in onions. The fries are piping hot and perfectly salted. Always.


Fort Bayard Days

September 17-18, 2010 • Fort Bayard, NM
575-956-3294 •


The Next Act: Locals gush about the green chili beef with homemade tortillas served at the M and A Café in Bayard. The place is hopping crazy for the Friday Night Fish Fry, so make your plans accordingly.


Grand Duke Alexis Rendezvous

Sept. 24-26, 2010 • Hayes Center, NE
308-286-3463 •


The Next Act: Visit Huckleberry’s Hideout in nearby Broken Bow on Friday nights for karaoke. Get there early, because this joint
gets packed! Try the savory beef brisket before you grab the mic.


National Cavalry Competition

Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 2010 • Fort Concho, TX
785-784-5797 •


The Next Act: Fort Concho was established along the Concho River in 1867. Now you can marvel at the exploits of past commanders—such as Indian Wars hero Gen. Ranald Mackenzie and Buffalo Soldiers commander Col. Benjamin Grierson—during a hike along the river guided by Jordan Llamas Treks. The sure-footed and agile llamas carry your supplies!


Fall Traders Encampment

October 1-3, 2010 • Bartlesville, OK
877-273-2007 •


The Next Act: Murphy’s Original Steak House is notorious for its hot hamburger sandwich-an all-beef patty served on top of Texas toast smothered in cheese, fries and homemade brown gravy. You can also order a salad with the killer garlic dressing, which locals will pretty much put on anything.


Durango Heritage Celebration

October 7-10, 2010 • Durango, CO


The Next Act: Get out of town, set your sights on the San Juan Mountains and head out on a half-day trail ride or a half-hour stagecoach tour on Goulding Creek Trail. Tom and Jennifer McCarthy have been guiding folks from their Hole in the Wall Stables for more than 15 years.


Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride

October 10-15, 2010 • Tombstone, AZ

505-286-4585 •


The Next Act: You’re in luck, because on the third Saturday of every month (which falls on Oct. 16, this year), the Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers leads a tour of historic sites on the Fort Huachuca Army base in nearby Sierra Vista. The 10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers served here under Gen. “Black Jack” Pershing during his 1916 expedition into Mexico.


Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

Daily • Tombstone, AZ
520-457-3456 •


The Next Act: The only logical thing to do after watching the daily performance of the famous 1881 Gunfight Behind the O.K. Corral is to look for the ghosts of the fallen afterward. Embark on the Crystal Palace Ghost Hunt, which supplies 15 ghost hunters with paranormal equipment in the basement of one of Tombtone’s first saloons to find the forgotten spirits of Tombstone’s gun-riddled past. Like Ray Parker Jr. sang, “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.”


2011 Living History Celebrations

Kalamazoo Living History Show
March 19-20, 2011 • Portage, MI
765-563-6792 •

Goliad Massacre Re-Enactment
March TBA, 2011 • Goliad, TX
361-645-3752 •

Great American Horse Drive
May 4-8, 2011 • Craig, CO
970-586-4577 •

Lyon County Fly-In
May 21-22, 2011 • Silver Springs, NV
775-887-1294 •

Frontier Fort Days
May TBA, 2011 • Fort Worth, TX
817-624-4741 •

Texas Proud Festival
May TBA, 2011 • Llano, TX
866-539-5535 •

Fort Laramie Rendezvous
June 19-20, 2011 • Fort Laramie, WY
307-575-2105 •

Real Bird’s Little Bighorn Re-Enactment
June 25-26, 2011 • Crow Agency, MT

Dalton Gang Hideout
June 25-26, 2011 • Meade, KS
800-354-2743 •

Butch Cassidy’s Hole-in-the-Wall Ride
June TBA, 2011 • Hardin, MT
505-286-4585 •

Custer’s Ride to Glory
June TBA, 2011 • Hole in the Wall, WY
505-286-4585 •

Custer’s Last Stand Re-Enactment
June TBA, 2011 • Hardin, MT
888-450-3577 •

John C. Fremont Days
July 8-10, 2011 • Fremont, NE
402-727-9428 •

1838 Rendezvous
July TBA, 2011 • Riverton, WY

Green River Days Rendezvous
July TBA, 2011 • Pinedale, WY
307-367-2242 •

Younger Brothers Capture
September 17, 2011 • Madelia, MN
507-642-3245 •

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