When William F. Cody aka Buffalo Bill made his stage debut in Chicago in late 1872 in The Scouts of the Prairie, a dime novel turned Wild West show by author and producer Ned Buntline, Cody traveled around as an actor for 10 years before deciding to put on his own Wild West show.
But his incentive to do so stemmed from the vanishing age that was the Wild West — a definitive moment in U.S. history that Cody was determined to keep alive and share with others; his love for an era that loved him back, ultimately making him one of the most celebrated legends of the old American west.
“He really did have a drive to show what he thought the West was,” said Steve Friesen, director of the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave in Golden.
In 1882, Cody said, “…I conceived the idea of organizing a large company of Indians, cow-boys, Mexican vaqueros, famous riders and expert lasso throwers, with accessories of stage coach, emigrant wagons, bucking horses and a herd of buffaloes, with which to give a realistic entertainment of wild life on the plains.”
As part of the many activities for this year’s Buffalo Bill Days, Cody’s Wild West by Monarch Productions will be part of the festivities for a third year in a row, recreating parts of the original traveling show known as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West.
“It was a perfect tie to try and keep at least a flavor of what Buffalo Bill was all about still alive in Golden during Buffalo Bill Days,” said David T. Wright, owner of Monarch Productions. “We try to stay as true as we can, obviously in 2014 versus the late 1800s early 1900s he had a massive cast of characters in his show where we don’t have that luxury nor the space to do so.”
Each year, the show features new acts but still holds original ones such as trick roping, Mexican and Indian dancers, sharpshooting, and actors posing as historical figures that took part in the original show including Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill and Johnny Baker aka the Cowboy Kid.
“We mix it up every year so it’s not the same show every year,” Wright said. “We’ll come back again next year to see something new and different.”
This year’s grand opening will still feature a Civil War era cannon and a live American Eagle. A new act, Cody Saves the Day, will be performed and a surprise ending is planned for the show which runs for about 90 minutes.
“I can’t imagine a Buffalo Bill Days in Golden without a Wild West show,” Wright said. “That’s what Buffalo Bill was all about; it’s what he is known for and remembered for foremost.”
Cody’s Wild West begins after the Best of the West parade at 12:30 p.m. at West Lions Park Ball Field off 10th Street in Golden on Saturday, July 26. The event is free and open to the public.