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Billy the Kid & NM Monuments Hot this Summer
06-05-2006, 12:53 PM
Billy the Kid is Hot This Summer
By: Ben Moffett - Contributing Reporter
© 2006 Ben Moffett - Reprint Permission Granted
One thing is certain about Billy the Kid (1859-1881). Unlike most of the scoundrels of his day (Boss Tweed, John Wilkes Booth, and Butch Cassidy to name a few), the Kid doesn't fade into history. He keeps making it.
The most widely published photo of 'The Kid'
(Photo Credit: www.aboutbillythekid.com (http://www.aboutbillythekid.com/))
He is more famous than he was when Fort Sumner and Lincoln State Monuments were created in large part to tell his life's story, and he's going to be especially hot this year for a couple of reasons.
Reason 1: 2006 is the 75th anniversary of the New Mexico State Parks and there will be special ceremonies at all six active state parks this year, including Fort Sumner and Lincoln.
Reason 2: Yet another movie has been produced about the Kid. Nothing too special about that since at least 47 earlier movies have been made about the Kid over the years, including "Billy the Kid vs. Dracula," (1966).
What's different about the new one, "Requiem of Billy the Kid," is that it is a documentary with flair, narrated by Kris Kristofferson. It made its world debut at the Cannes Film Festival this May (2006).
"According to reports out of Europe, the movie by Anne Feinsilber, combines "glorious images of present-day New Mexico with black-and-white photographs from the 1880s and clips from Sam Peckinpah's "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid," which starred Kristofferson.
The movie should be making its U.S. premier later this year, according to former Lincoln County Sheriff Tom Sullivan. The first showing will be in Capitan, N.M., or the general vicinity. The "glorious shots" mentioned by Cannes reviewers were mostly from the Lincoln and Fort Sumner area.
Sullivan and former Capitan Mayor Steve Cedarwall were both at the Cannes Festival, guests of the producers because of their help with filming, location work, subject matter, and the like.
So if you want to get the straight scoop on Billy by checking out his old haunts before the movie hits the state, kind of get a leg-up on the latest Billy conservation, there is no better place to spend those limited gasoline dollars than Fort Sumner and Lincoln.
Lincoln State Monument is on U.S. Highway 380 and staff and interpretive exhibits can help separate fact from fiction for you.
It was at the Lincoln County Courthouse where where Billy escaped from jail, killing two deputies in the process.
And of course, the town of Lincoln was the site of the Lincoln County War, in which the Kid played an important role. Lincoln is open all year long but its big day of celebration is Aug. 4-6, "Old Lincoln Days," including the Billy the Kid Pageant which depicts that war.
There will be a fiddler's contest, living history demonstrations, food and a parade through this town that looks pretty much as it did when it was called "the most dangerous town in America" between 1878 and 1881.
Lincoln contains 16 historic buildings, most managed by New Mexico State Monuments, including the infamous courthouse, the San Juan de Bautista Church, where services are still held, and the Tunstall Store, where 19th century merchandise is on display.
In addition to the Old Lincoln Days celebraton, there are a number of other events, including an annual Arts in the Orchard event Sept. 3, featuring pie contests. There is also Christmas Eve in Historic Lincoln services. An Episcopalian Service is set for 7 p.m., and a Catholic Mass at 10 p.m., both at the San Juan Church.
The monument, 12 miles east of Capitán, and 57 miles west of Ruidoso over the Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway, is open daily except on major holidays, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Billy the Kid was killed in Fort Sumner by Sheriff Pat Garrett, according to the best evidence, and his grave is there. Although Fort Sumner State Monument and the general area are "must-see" to anyone who really wants to scrutinize the life of Billy the Kid, the monument tells a much bigger story -- the story of the fort itself, and the imprisonment of Navajo and Mescalero Apache at the Bosque Redondo Indian Reservation.
In 2005, a new edition -- the Bosque Redondo State Memorial -- was added at the state monument and the entire concept is now officially called Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner State Monument.
The monument is open year around, and upcoming special events include a demonstration of traditional skills by the Mescalero Apache Cultural Council.
Bosque Redondo and Fort Sumner State Monument are located three miles east of Fort Sumner just off Highway 60/84. Travel 3.5 miles south on Billy the Kid Road.
And don't miss the movie. But if you do, you probably won't have to wait long to see another one.
Who knows? Someone may make Billy the Kid vs. the Sundance Kid in a high noon shootout on the Socorro Plaza. Maybe the fabled Socorro Sheriff Elfego Baca will show up to referee.
After all Sundance, was known to frequent Catron County just to the east on Highway 60.
And he's certainly be more believable than Dracula.
(Note: For an entire schedule of 75th anniversary events, dial in the State Monuments website at nmstatemonuments.com.
Among the anniversary events still on tap is Pueblo Independence Day, Aug. 13, at Jemez State Monument, located in Jemez Springs, 43 miles north of Bernalillo over State Highway 4.
It's a commemoration of the Pueblo Revolt with a traditional relay footrace ending at the monument. There will be Pueblo music, dances, food, arts and crafts demonstrations. Ceremonies begin at 10 a.m.)
[Ed Comment: Ben Moffett is one of New Mexico's most knowledgeable and experienced writers on NM Events and happenings. We're especially please and proud to have him as a contributing reporterhere at Steppin' Out! Thanks, Ben]
Other great Billy The Kid Links:
About Billy The Kid (http://www.aboutbillythekid.com/)
Billy the Kid Outlaw Gang (http://frontpage.nmia.com/~btkog/)
Desert USA - Billy The Kid Page (http://www.desertusa.com/mag98/oct/papr/billykid.html)
Billy the Kid (http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Styx/9560/index.htm)
Billy the Kid: Outlaw Legend (http://www.angelfire.com/mi2/billythekid/)
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