Over 100 years ago, “Bloody Caddo” served as the hub for outlaws and gunslingers in Ardmore. On Saturday, just one block away, visitors to the Cowboy Way got a glimpse into the violent past courtesy of The Guthrie Gunfighters.
The Guthrie Gunfighters are a historical reenactment group that specializes in wild west style shootouts from the late 19th century. They wear historically accurate clothing, use period-appropriate firearms and Kent Smith, event coordinator, said even though they are shooting blanks all of their weapons are real.
“They are either actual weapons from the 1800s or reproductions — Colts and Remingtons. Most of our weapons are revolvers but we also have some Winchester rifles,” Smith said. He went on to describe their performances.
“We have a shootout and people ‘die’. We have a good guy and a bad guy, but usually it’s the bad guys who dies at the end,” Smith said. He said the group also has female performers who participate in the show.
Smith said every shootout is ad-libbed. They go in with a general plan about how the story will play out, but the performers create all the dialogue on the spot.
“Somebody says something and then you play off of that,” Smith said. “It’s much easier than trying to do a skit.”
Each performance gets a slightly different theme and because the dialogue is created on the spot no two performances are alike. Smith said this allows the crowd to enjoy every performance.
“A lot of the people who are watching the show are the same ones who saw the last one or the one before that. If you keep doing the same show over and over they don’t come and watch,” Smith said.
Smith said everyone who performs truly loves the era and summed up why he loves what he does.
“Most of us feel like we were born in the wrong century,” Smith Said. “When you put on the costume and go out it’s like you’re a whole different person. And where else can you go toe to toe with somebody, shoot him and smell the black powder, watch him die, and not end up in jail?”