COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- What's billed as the state's largest street festival returns for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend on four blocks of West Colorado Avenue.
The event, known as Territory Days, will take place between 23rd and 27th streets, in the Old Colorado City shopping district, starting Saturday and continuing through Monday.
Admission is free to the festival, which offers a variety of food, live music and entertainment; ceremonies to honor veterans and the military are part of the celebration.
Territory Days commemorates the founding of Old Colorado City in 1859 as the capital of Colorado Territory before statehood in 1876; it prospered during the 1890s gold rush in Cripple Creek and was annexed into the city of Colorado Springs in 1917.
The event began in 1976 and was canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jim Wear, of Pro Promotions -- who has organized the festival since 2010 -- said that it represents more than just food and merchandise from dozens of vendors, live music and a variety of entertainment for all ages.
"This is a traditional event," he explained. "We try to recognize history and keep tradition. So, people who come to Territory Days will see primarily what they've seen in the past. One big highlight of the event is our Memorial Day remembrance ceremony on Monday. We always honor veterans and the military. We also use the proceeds to support and promote the businesses in Old Colorado City."
Still, Wear admits that some businesses don't like the festival -- and even close during it -- because those merchants believe they lose sales due to the big crowds, lack of parking and dozens of out-of-town vendors who come.
That hasn't been the experience so far for Jeremy Nosbush, co-owner of an Old Colorado City candle shop, at age 24.
"When we got the opportunity to have this location here, we jumped all over it -- just to have the best local following, as well as get some tourists down here, too," he said. "We opened in time for the festival last year, and did really well. Yeah, this is a great spot."
Lauren Smith, who moved to town after last year's festival, was one of many people wondering about the upcoming event.
"I've never even heard of this festival," she confessed. "Does it sound interesting? Yeah, I think so."
Smith's brother, Michael Sweeney, and his girlfriend, Ashley DeSilva, are visiting from Virginia and are curious about the festival's history.
"Knowing that they close the streets down for everyone to come and hang out and enjoy the festivities, it sounds like a great time," Sweeney said.
"I think it would be a great way to bring people together and celebrate the history of Colorado, and just enjoy it for what it is," she said.
During the next two years, future management of the festival will transition from Pro Promotions to Aponi Productions; Aponi president Scott Schulz said that he will seek feedback from attendees to determine whether changes are needed at the event.
For more information, visit: https://www.shopoldcoloradocity.com/territory-days.