Being a huge western era fan, sometimes when I am hanging out in downtown Leavenworth, the First City of Kansas, my mind wonders and I imagine walking the streets of this historic town as they were back in the rough and tumble days of the old west. A time when bad guys would ride in to town looking for trouble or emerge from the shadows of a building hoping to catch someone off guard. Only to be met by the local sheriff and other good town folk who would eventually stare the bad guys down, run ’em out of town and ultimately save the day.
Obviously, those days are long gone and incidents like those happened over a hundred years ago. I suspect that the closest I will ever come to experiencing that type of incident would be either reading a book or catching a good old western on DVD.
But would I? Well, let me tell you about a strange incident that happened to me the other night here in town.
This past Saturday night, near dusk, my wife and I were walking eastbound on Delaware Street towards the intersection of 6th Street. The air was thick with anticipation and for the most part, the streets were eerily quiet. I just felt as though something strange was going to happen. As we walked along, my wife and I were simply minding our own business when, suddenly, out of the shadows two big burly rough men stepped right out in front of us.
Our eyes instantly met. My wife scowled and I gave my best version of a Clint Eastwood’s famous squint. I felt as though I was caught in the middle of a classic western. I instinctively looked up at the roof tops, searching for shooters with 1897 Winchesters trained on our every move.
It was an incredibly tense few seconds as we waited to see who would make the first move. My hands twitched in anticipation.
Of course, that was until I looked down and saw that these two would-be gunslingers were wearing skirts.
Plaid wool skirts, kilts to be exact. To top it off, they both had matching knee-high socks to boot!
That’s when I snapped out of my day dream and remembered that we were attending the 9th annual O’Rogers Irish Party and Fundraiser held at J.W. Crancers this past Saturday night in downtown Leavenworth.
Upon entering the venue, we were met by Rett and Terry Rogers, the hosts for the event, and, by the way, simply an incredible couple. The entire J.W. Crancer’s facility was filled with people outfitted in green Irish regalia, funky leprechaun hats and orange beards. There was authentic Irish food spread across long tables all of which had been donated by the attendees, spirits flowed and lively music was provided by the band Fraoch.
For those who may not know the story of the origins of this event, I will enlighten you.
Years ago, Terry Rogers had a friend in town who was an active duty soldier named Fiona. Fiona deployed to Afghanistan and on her way back to the states she was delayed in Ireland. As luck would have it, during her layover she bought an Irish cookbook and subsequently gave it to Terry and Rett. Long story short, the Rogers family started having annual Irish food parties at their home and invited guests would join in the fun. Well, last year the event became so large that Mr. and Mrs. Rogers decided to turn it into a community fundraiser with the goal of supporting local businesses in downtown Leavenworth.
The Leavenworth Main Street program, headed by Tom Meier, Marty Pope, Wendy Scheidt and Andrea Staples subsequently joined with the Rogers and together they help support the historic preservation and viability of our downtown community. This year 10% of the proceeds from the O’Rogers Irish Party were donated to the Trinity House Pantry.
I have to tell you, it was an incredibly fun event. I met so many great and interesting people from our community who came together for a great cause and a good time. The endless supply of delicious Irish food combined with community fellowship and laughter was inspiring and clearly represented just how unique and community orientated our town is.
By the way, I did have a run in with the local sheriff but it wasn’t the one from my day dream. It was Leavenworth County’s finest, Sheriff Andy Dedeke, and the two burly looking guys my wife and I mistook for bad guys were actually Celtic musicians and boy could they play some good ole Irish bagpipe music.
Viper One Six – Out