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Quirky History COLORADO’S OUTRAGEOUS FIRST AND LAST BULLFIGHT Over the past 150 years, Cripple Creek has attracted more than its share of colorful characters – ruthless outlaws, flamboyant hucksters, civic-minded madams. One character who stands out was Joe Wolfe, a casino owner who had a grand vision for Cripple Creek as “The Monte Carlo of the West.” Some modern casino owners might share that grand vision, but few would support Wolfe’s Big Idea for how to get there: A Mexican bullfight! Wolfe was convinced that a bullfight would bring international attention to the little boomtown of Gillett (on the road between Cripple Creek and Victor), and it did, but not quite in the way he intended. He would stage a three-day “Great Mexican Bull Fight, Fiesta, and Equestrian Carnival.” He hired four matadors from Mexico and built a huge arena, spending around $7,000. But he cut some corners, notably on picadors, the guys who actually lance the bull for a humane kill. Instead of importing specialists from Mexico, he hired a few local cowboys to do the job. He also may have skimped on the bulls. Some reports claim he bought untrained animals from a local ranch. Wolfe worked out deals with local law enforcement. Although deputies had arrested the bullfighters before the fight even started, the bullfighters allegedly pre-paid token fines for animal cruelty in an abbreviated legal process at a makeshift courthouse. On August 24, 1895, an estimated 50,000 people from near and far gathered to see what Wolfe had promoted as the first bullfight in the United States. (It wasn’t, but, hey, it was the first in Colorado.) It did not turn out well. The bulls were too frightened to fight, and the matadors couldn’t get them to charge. The cowboys hired to see that the bulls were treated humanely fell quite a bit short. One source claims that the bullfight turned into a riot with the sheriff arresting many people and the local militia being called in. Wolfe lost his shirt as well as his taste for bullfighting. It would be Colorado’s first and only bullfight. �������������������������������������������������������� Home of the Ice Cold 18 oz. Schooner RALF’S BREAK ROOM ������������������������������������ Family Friendly! Pizza Burgers Beer Open Daily 11am-2am ������������������������ �������������������� 411 E. Bennett Ave • Cripple Creek 719-689-9195 Cripple Creek 7


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