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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gunfighters Gather in Yuma, Arizona

More than a dozen Old West re-enactment groups from across the region will ride into town for a old-fashioned showdown at the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park on January 11-12, 2014.

But what will fly at the 16th annual Gathering of the Gunfighters isn't really hot lead - it's fightin' words and old-school acting from folks portraying outlaws, lawmen, cowboys, saloon gals, townfolk and a veritable cornucopia of disreputable characters.

For spectators, the fun is seeing Western lore unfold in live-action skits with lots of shoutin' and shootin' – and no doubt, some prolonged and dramatic "deaths".

And while there weren't regular gun battles at the fearsome Territorial Prison, the authentic setting overlooking the Colorado River, the still-active rail line and the Ocean-to-Ocean bridge just adds to the atmosphere.

"What better place to have a 'Gathering of the Gunfighters' than at the notorious lockup that struck fear in their hearts?" said Charles Flynn, executive director of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, which now operates the park. "There's a reason Ben Wade didn't want to get on board the '3:10 to Yuma'."

The special admission price – $8 for those 14 and older, $3 for kids age 7-13, free for ages 6 and younger – includes the re-enactment competition and full access to the prison and its exhibits, along with vendors of vittles, libations and Western wares and wear. Tickets are only available at the gate the days of the event. Hours are 9am to 5pm both days, with groups taking turns presenting 20-minute skits.

Yuma Visitors Bureau markets the Yuma area within the travel and tourism industry and to the general public. Yuma's population nearly doubles in the winter months, thanks to more than 23,000 spots in RV parks and resorts. The community also offers nearly 4,300 hotel rooms, conference and meeting facilities, and three casinos. Recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's sunniest spot, Yuma offered free meals to hotel guests "every day the sun doesn't shine" from August 1, 2011 until July 31, 2012 as part of Arizona's Centennial celebration. Yuma's final score? Sunshine 365, Gloom 0. Visit www.visityuma.com for more information.

For details about top events in Arizona take a look at the Top Events USA selection of the annual main festivals and events in Arizona.