Old Abilene Town Gunfights

The Old Abilene Gunfighters are back for the summer and fall seasons.

Gunfights are breaking out in Abilene’s Old Town once again. Gunfighters have started their season and will continue entertaining guests on Saturdays and Sundays through the summer and into the fall.

Jeffrey Crippen, president of the Old Abilene Town Gunfighters, said the group is growing and has 38 active members between the ages of 14 to mid-50s.

“They don’t tote until they’re 16 so they’re out there as townies,” Crippen said.

The volunteers take on different roles and sometimes there are only a dozen who show up to perform, but other days they’ll have a larger group.

“We have our gunfighters and we have our soiled doves, which is our ladies — the proper term for them back then was soiled dove,” he said. “We have our townsfolk, our ladies who are proper townsfolk and we have anything from our town drunk to our law.”

In trying to keep some historical accuracy, the lawmen are called deputies because in the era right before Tom Smith became Abilene’s marshall in 1969.

“We reenact a rowdy day in the Old West,” Crippen said. “This was a lot of the Cowboys coming into town off the cattle drives. When the cowboys were coming up from Chisholm Trail, bringing the cattle in you could have upwards of 2,000 cowboys in town. We show people what the rowdy days were. The average day was Little House on the Prairie. Everybody was nice. No guns were in town. You check them in at the marshall’s office.”

The Old Abilene Town Gunfighters have been organized since 1960. They don’t work off a script, rather every show is ad-lib. They start with a basic concept, such as a bar brawl, and the performers run with it.

“Our shows are never the same,” he said.

However, just prior to the show they always do a short safety talk and demonstration and show what one of the blanks they shoot can do to an aluminum can.

The group is at Old Abilene Town from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays with performances at 11:30 a.m. and 1:10 and 3:30 p.m. On Sundays, they are there from noon to 4 p.m. 1:10 and 3:30 p.m. Sundays. However, they are often there ready to visit with guests

“But if the train comes in after the show we’ll do one for them,” he said speaking of the Abilene Smoky Valley Railroad train rides to Enterprise and back. “We will also do a show if we have enough people on the boardwalk that haven’t seen our show before or that want to see it in between our show time.”

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