2019 marks the 50th anniversary of True Grit, the movie that earned John Wayne his only Academy Award. The famous director Henry Hathaway brought a cast and crew to Ridgway and Ouray County in the summer of 1968 to film much of the movie, which was released in 1969. The first annual Ridgway Old West Fest, organized by the Ridgway Western Heritage Society and scheduled for October 11-13, 2019, will celebrate Ridgway’s brief transformation into Fort Smith, Arkansas, half a century ago.
Festivities will highlight Ridgway’s film, ranching and railroad heritage and celebrate Western arts and culture. “We are planning a variety of family friendly fun events,” said Eve Becker-Doyle, the Ridgway Western Heritage Society president. “Many events will be free and others will be well worth the price of admission. Activities will include a Western art show, kids’ horse and pony rides, showings of both movies, a youth horse parade, a natural horsemanship demo, train rides, a Western concert and more.”
The Ridgway Chamber of Commerce runs an 11:00 Friday morning walking tour about the filming from May to October. The tour will be offered as one of many festival activities on both Saturday and Sunday. In 2010 True Grit was remade in a second version starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld, inspiring a new generation of fans and triggering interest in the original movie.
True Grit Days, held in 2007 in Ridgway, was the precursor of next year’s festival. 5,000 people attended the event, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of John Wayne’s birth as well as Ridgway and Ouray County’s movie-making heritage. Kim Darby, one of the original movie’s stars, was one of the VIP guests for the weekend.
Registration information for the 2019 festival will be available early next year