His face is on billboards, brochures and You Tube videos promoting Old Abilene Town and its summer gunfights.
But this Saturday Wade Tuxhorn will not be giving his usual lesson to kids on the dangers of guns nor participating in the ensuing gunfights, portraying Marshal Wild Bill Hickok.
The gunfights in Old Abilene Town have been turned over to a new group, one that left in 2016.
Tuxhorn said he believes gunfights in Abilene started 60 years ago in 1959. He has been participating in the unscripted all volunteer event for 20 years.
Tuxhorn said he was told by a board member of Historic Abilene which owns and runs Old Abilene Town that because of a lack of gunfighters on weekends, they are allowing another volunteer group to participate.
“We have been low. Some gunfights I have been doing with three people,” he said.
The Historic Abilene board of directors issued a statement saying that it “has decided to move in another direction on gunfighters” and would have no further comment on the matter.
The new group, the Old Abilene Town Gunfighters, is the group that incorporated the name and asked to leave following a disagreement in 2016.
Jeffrey Crippen, president of Old Abilene Town Gunfighters, said the group is happy to be back.
Crippen was a gunfighter at Old Abilene Town in 2011 and was part of the organization that was asked to leave in 2016.
“There are no hard feelings,” Crippen said about the disagreement. “We have let the past lay in the past. My entire group has moved on with that and let it go. People that did have hard feelings are no longer associated with our organization.”
The gunfighters have been performing and teaching gun safety at traveling shows including Sundown Salute in Junction City and a show in Nebraska for a girls’ day camp.
Crippen said the new group wants to rebuild the gunfighter shows in Old Abilene Town.
He said shows have been well attended the first three weeks of their return.
“We’ve had some large audiences. People are starting to come back,” he said.
Tuxhorn said he first agreed to work with the new gunfighters.
“I can get along with this idea as long as we stay in charge. We have been there for a long time; one member for 40 years and another over 30. As long as we stay in charge and I took care of the emcee like I always had, I said I think we can get along.”
But Tuxhorn said the new gunfighters wanted to run the show.
“I started asking the board just what the heck was going on. What are going to be the real rules?” he said.
He said he was told by another board member to “just get along.”
Tuxhorn was laid up and unable to attend the gunfights for two weeks.
“I just knew if I wasn’t there, things were going to go downhill with my guys,” he said. “Sure enough, it’s done. They booted us out. The board decided we were causing too much trouble.”
The final straw was when the longtime gunfighters were told they had to join the club and pay $15 in dues.
“Volunteers don’t need to pay no damn dues,” Tuxhorn said. “I worked with them. I went as far as I could. I’m not going to pay dues. I am not going to join their club.”
Crippen said Tuxhorn and his group of gunfighters are still welcome to participate in the reenactments.
Contact Tim Horan at firstname.lastname@example.org.