“I think we’ve been known for years as a cowtown. Whether people want to accept that or not, that’s what Ellsworth is…that’s why it is here, and that’s how it was formed”, said National Drovers Hall of Fame board president, Mark Roehrman. “At some point every business that started in Ellsworth had to do with cattle, since the rail head was here. That’s our history. That’s the most unique thing about it. We need to embrace that, not run from it.” For over two years Mark has been the driving force behind all the hard work it has taken to see this weekend come to fruition. He’s a great leader for this town.The Great American Cattle Drive Experience will begin for some tomorrow. For those of us not straddling a horse or rocking’ away in a covered wagon, our experience will start Friday afternoon in three different venues…downtown Ellsworth, the Ellsworth Plaza and south of the bridge on the Rec Center grounds.
From 4:00 until 6:00 there is an artist reception at the Art Gallery. It will feature the work of Salina photographer Jeff Cooper. Jeff will accompany the trail drive and have pictures available for the event. There will be wood carvers in action at the gallery.
The Drovers Saloon will be open Friday from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
The trade show on the Plaza opens at 4:00 on Friday, and will be open 9:00 to 5:00 on Saturday.
An authentic 1870s cow camp, organized by veteran cow camp promoter Greg Heller, will open to the public at 6:00 p.m. Friday evening on the Rodeo/Armory grounds. According to Greg, this will be the biggest cow camp Ellsworth has ever seen. He’s organized all of them in recent years, so he should be familiar with the numbers. All types of people who camped on the Plains…drovers, cowboys, buffalo soldiers, buffalo hunters, homesteaders, etc. ..will be represented at the camp. Visitors are welcome at the camp which will be located on the Rec Center grounds. At 7:00 p.m. a cowboy concert of western music and cowboy poetry will star radio personality Johnny Western. Geff Dawson is the opening act.
So far, about 20 riders have paid the $1,000 fee to ride the trail with Michael Martin Murphey and other cowboy types for the 26 mile drive to Ellsworth. The chuck wagon and bedroll wagon will be in the lead. At least, that’s the plan.
Saturday morning the cow camp will be open. There will be outhouse races in town (Dane is going to be one of the three judges so stop by and say hello), a trade show is featured on the Plaza (that’s the area on either side of the railroad tracks) and a pictorial stamp cancellation will be at the Ellsworth Art Gallery. You’ll want to buy some of the picture post cards featuring a recent painting by Hill City artist Mike Boss of the Insurance Building.
At 11:00, 12:00 and 1:00 on Saturday, Living History will be presented at three different venues…the Drovers building, the 1870s jail and the Antique Mall. Check at the Antique Mall for times and place.
At noon Saturday there is a Texas Hold ‘em Poker tournament in the underground below the Ellsworth Antique Mall. Also in other rooms of the underground, there is scheduled entertainment. See my earlier blog for various times of the performances. Notice the bar in the underground that Mark constructed. It’s a beauty. I think Tall Boy might have helped a little.
There will be a break in the poker tournament for the 2:00 cattle drive down the main drag (Douglas Avenue). You won’t want to miss this. Photographers will be positioned on top of buildings and along the route to capture the best picture of the cattle moving through town. They will be available for purchase.
At 3:00 there will be an old west gun fight on the Plaza. From 3:00 to 5:00 there will be a special pictorial stamp cancellation at the art gallery. The post cards are available as collector items or to send to friends and family. Buy lots. They aren’t expensive.
At 4:00, story teller Lonnie Haden will be at the school house on the grounds of the Hodgden House Museum Complex. The Museum Complex is worth a good look.
At 5 p.m., after the downtown cattle drive, a chuck wagon supper will be served at the Rec Center south of the bridge. At 7:00, singer Michael Martin Murphey will perform in concert. Following the concert there will be a performance of “Quiet Thunder”, a Salina Equestrian Drill Team.
Proceeds from this event will go to the restoration of the Insurance Building, the signature building on Ellsworth’s main street. Contribute as generously as you are able. There will be charges for the chuckwagon dinner and the Michael Martin Murphey concert.
Buy a copy of the INDY and you’ll find a complete schedule of events in the insert. You’ll also want to order a copy of the INDY that follows the event. It will be a keeper.
The weather forecast looks good… temps in the upper 70s and 80s, with maybe a 20% chance of rain. It will be a good weekend for activities in Ellsworth. Be supportive and be here.
Remember… please don’t park on Douglas Avenue (main street) between 3rd Street and South Main on Saturday as that space has been reserved for the meanderings of 64 head of rangy Texas longhorn cattle
Send this to family and friends. Encourage them to attend and support the efforts of the Drovers board. It will be a good, fun-filled weekend with frontier history that will come alive with each moment. It will be a memorable weekend.