By Alex Gallagher | May 12, 2021
Bob and Dale Charnes have been performing historical reenactments of the Wild West for over 60 years, nearly 30 of which have been spent in Arizona.
Now, their Arizona Gunfighters are gearing up for two performances of “A Day in the Wild West” at Cave Creek’s Frontier Town, one at noon and the other at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 15.
“We recreate actual events from the history of the Old West as close as possible to the way that they really happened,” explains Bob, the leader of Arizona Gunfighters.
“Most of what we do is what actually happened,” he says. “Other than stuff that could be dangerous, we keep it as close to what happened as physically possible.” Arizona Gunfighters performances consist of three acts featuring some of the biggest names in the history of the Wild West — such as Wild Bill Hicock, the marshal of Abilene, Kansas, who accidentally shot and killed his own deputy.
Of course, no Wild West show would be complete without an appearance by the notorious Doc Holliday. An act will cover the time Holliday won half interest in a card game in a saloon in Las Vegas, New Mexico. While running the saloon, Holliday got into a gunfight with a man named Mike Gordon over one of the women there.
Lastly, the Gunfighters will feature Wyatt Earp’s battle in Tombstone, near the O.K. Corral, which Bob noted did not actually happen at the O.K. Corral, contrary to popular belief.
What makes this segment even more special is that the role of Earp will be played by his great-grandnephew, also named Wyatt Earp.
The younger Earp has played the role of his great-granduncle for almost 30 years. He met Bob and Dale at a presentation on the famous older Earp a few years prior to the forming of Arizona Gunfighters.
Though Earp may be the biggest name on the bill, Bob and Dale ensure that their performers are able to give attendees the best functioning performance possible.
“We try to have at least three people who know every part,” Bob says. “We don’t perform the type of show where if we haven’t rehearsed it we can’t have people just step in and do it. If one person messes up, it takes a bit to get things back on track.”
While entertainment is paramount, Bob also has a much larger goal.
“Part of what we are doing is we are trying to preserve the interest in that period in our history,” he says.
He describes his shows as being truly for all ages, with kids as young as six or seven or guests who are far older attending. One time, he recalls, there was even a guest nearing their 100th birthday.
In addition to the two upcoming performances, Bob hopes to add one more show before Father’s Day this year. But as it stands, May 15 will serve as the last show of the season at Frontier Town.
“We hope that people enjoy the performance,” Charnes says. “This is almost a history lesson put into real people.”
“A Day in the Wild West”
When: Noon and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 15
Where: Frontier Town, 6245 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek