Heritage Dayze brings past to the present

By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS

What do a Honky Tonk piano player, American Indian dancers and a buffalo soldier have in common? All three — and more — can be found in town this weekend at Tucumcari’s Historical Museum’s annual Heritage Dayze.

The two-day extravaganza, which begins at noon on Friday and runs through 5 p.m. on Saturday, is slated to include authentic trick roper Wild Bill Cathey; Civil War buffalo soldier portrayer Ollie Morgan; pianist Dwain Bond pounding out the Honky Tonk; “The Bread Lady” Mary Jane Edaakie and Paso del Norte Pistoleros’ gunfights, just to name a few.

One will also find chile roasting, blacksmithing, Dutch oven cooking and a host of activities for kids including a piñata bust. Admission is free.

“The best part is getting all the different cultures involved,” said museum director Bruce Nutt who started Heritage Dayze three years ago.

“It only gets bigger every year,” Nutt said, adding last year’s attendance blasted past 1,300 people, even including a couple who came from Pennsylvania. “They called again this year,” Nutt said, “wanting to find out the dates. That says a lot of our event and our community.”
Part of the lure of the event is its family focus, Nutt said.

“Kids Corner is wonderful,” Nutt said. “There’s a giant mammoth kids get to throw the spears into, they can make their own pottery and every child takes a piece home. The extension office teaches you how to make butter in a jar and ice cream in a baggie. It’s amazing and delicious.”

Nutt said the ice cream will be old-fashioned vanilla.
“I like to keep it as close to the really true thing,” Nutt said. “It’s important, especially for the children.”

Speaking of authenticity, participants will be clad in dress from the 1880s to the early 1900s and each day will be graced with historical re-enactments. Nutt said one will find saloon gunfights, Billy the Kid fights and a train robbery indicative of the old west railroad. “They really shoot each other and it really is wonderful,” Nutt said.

If all the ice-cream making, piñata smashing, gunfighting and mammoth stabbing gets to be too much, one can always kick back and relax on the riverboat saloon.

“We go there for the music more than anything else,” said Jake Martinez, a Tucumcari resident since 1945 who frequents Heritage Dayze with his wife, Mary Stella Martinez.

Sure, Jake Martinez said he also enjoys the food — his favorite being an old-fashioned hamburger — but this 84 year old, who had his birthday last week, said the event to him means much more than a burger and a song.

“It brings back memories,” Martinez said. “Old memories. Where I come from we used to have horse and buggies.”

Heritage Dayze schedule of events

Noon — Paso del Norte Pistoleros, Western gunfight re-enactors
1 p.m. — Dwain Bond, Honky Tonk pianist
2 p.m. — American Indian dancers
3 p.m. — Wild Bill Cathey, trick roper
4 p.m. — Ollie Morgan, buffalo soldier
5 p.m. — Dayze end

9 a.m. — Paso del Norte Pistoleros, Western gunfight re-enactors
10 a.m. — Dwain Bond, Honky Tonk pianist
10:30 a.m. — Ollie Morgan, buffalo soldier
11 a.m. — American Indian dancers
Noon — Wild Bill Cathey, trick roper
1 p.m. — Paso del Norte Pistoleros, Western gunfight re-enactors
2 p.m. — Dwain Bond, Honky Tonk pianist
2:30 p.m. — Ollie Morgan, buffalo soldier
3 p.m. — American Indian dancers
4 p.m. — Wild Bill Cathey, trick roper
5 p.m. — Dayze end