The scene is set for a gunfight.

Rootin-Tootin Time At Dodge City Days

When we first started the planning for our Dodge City visit, our heads were filled with pictures of gunfighters, cattle drives, and other Wild West scenes. Even though we live in the 21st Century, we were hopeful to have a chance to see some nostalgic recreations. The opportunity to time our visit during Dodge City Days meant that we could see some of these hopes fulfilled. Our final itinerary included a day of fun at the Boot Hill Museum that was sure to entertain.

We want to thank the Dodge City CVB and Dodge City Days for their hospitality. Rest assured that all opinions are our own.

The cast of the gunfight show make their way to a confrontation.

A Cast of Characters Arrive

Our Dodge City Days passes allowed us multiple entries to the Boot Hill Museum, which meant that we were able to digest this large scale museum in manageable bites. On one day we toured the museum exhibits, which are housed in a long gallery behind the false storefronts. Don’t forget the additional displays found up the hill at Boot Hill Cemetery. (You can read more about the museum here.) On a different day, we attended the annual Bull Fry, but showed up early for their daily gunfight show. The crowd assembled and anxiously awaited the arrival of the cast of characters. Soon we noticed a group of cowboys making their way down the main street toward the Longbranch Saloon.

Tensions run high as guns are drawn by both sides at the Dodge City Days gunfight show.

A well rehearsed skit had the cowboys run into the local law enforcement, who forced them to disarm. The tension was high, but the Marshall and his deputies were not backing down from these frisky fellas. After some words, they finally agreed and were then allowed to make their way into the saloon.

A staged fight entertains the crowds.

Rowdy Cowboys

As would be expected, the combination of being on the trail for months and the excitement of the arrival in Dodge City created an atmosphere ripe for a fight. With a bunch of whooping and hollering, the group erupted through the swinging doors and out into the street.

Te combatants tire after too many punches are thrown.

With their sidearms surrendered, they had no choice but to settle their differences with their fists. The crowd watched with anticipation as the cast performed daring stunts during the street fight. The Marshall appeared to break up the fight and send the cowboys back to their camp. Too soon, they returned with some devious intentions, which escalated into a full blown gunfight.

The end result is that pistols are drawn.

Guns Blazing

With sides drawn, the two groups clashed. Pistols were drawn and shots rang out all through the street. The gunfight was a short burst of non-stop activity and then the shots faded.

The Marshall is the last person standing after a large scale gunfight.

One by one the participants dropped to the ground, until only the Marshall remained. A sidelined cowboy suddenly appeared to bushwhack the Marshall, but ended up getting his just rewards from a local shopkeeper. The cloud of smoke drifted away as applause erupted from the audience. This expression of gratitude brought the actors back to life and they rejoined the living. After the performance, the actors mingled with the crowd much to the delight of many of the younger ones in the audience. Soon, it was time to make our way to the dinner.

The bar owner begins the show at the Longbranch Saloon.

Act 2 Begins

Our dinner was a buffet style event that included a chance to sample Bull Fries. For those unfamiliar with the term, a little farther west they are known as Mountain Oysters. Crystal opted to pass on this opportunity, but I was already familiar with this dish. The meal also included some delicious BBQ brisket, as well as a great assortment of sides. With our bellies full, it was time to make our way into the Longbranch Saloon for the evening’s entertainment. The seats are predetermined, so no fighting for a space. We found ours, which were right up front, although the space is small enough that all the seats afford a great view. Soon the bar owner appeared to welcome us all in and kick off the show.

A Melodious Evening

The show is designed to be a mix of music, comedy, and dancing. The cast is energetic and engaged, and soon the audience was toe-tapping along with all the ditties.

Members of the audience are roped into coming up on stage during a musical act at the Longbranch Saloon.

Getting Involved

At one point of the evening, Miss Kitty and the dancers mingled with the audience as the looked for victims. It didn’t take long before they had assembled a crew of volunteers to join them on stage. A rowdy song entertained those left in the audience, as we all enjoyed the interactive fun.

Can You Can-Can?

The evening culminates with the highly anticipated Can-Can dance being performed by the dancing girls. This energetic dance kept the audience on the edge of their seats and ended with a rousing cheer. The days activities had been thoroughly entertaining, and everyone filed out with a smile on their faces. We were glad we had made our arrangements to attend when we could witness these shows.

The authors pose with a statue of Doc Holiday at the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, Kansas.

Time Your Visit

The Boot Hill Museum is open year round, but you will want to note that the gunfights are a Summer event. If you can swing it, we would highly suggest visiting during Dodge City Days. The entire city is abuzz with activities during this late July annual festival. Just be sure to mind your P’s and Q’s, since the Marshall and his men will be watching! You certainly don’t want to do anything that would make them draw down on you. If you enjoyed this article we would love it if you left us a comment below. We enjoy hearing form all of you. Thanks!

10 thoughts on “Rootin-Tootin Time At Dodge City Days”

  1. Doreen Pendgracs

    Dodge City Days looks like there’s something for everyone. I think I’d enjoy the dancing and evening fun more than the shoot-outs! thx for sharing.

  2. Lois Alter Mark

    Oh my goodness, this sounds like such a blast! Though I originally thought an event like this would be more kid-oriented, it seems like a great time for folks of all ages. I’d definitely be on Team Crystal when it comes to those Bull Fries, though- no thank you!

  3. This looks like fun! No doubt it’s touristy, but I’d love to see it and learn about the root of all that history of law and lawlessness in the Old West. BTW your pics of the gunfight are fabulous!

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