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The wild, wild West headed for Helper

Sun Advocate reporter

Last year's designation as the number one True West Town caused a ruckus when the award was presented by Bob Boze Bell, editor, publisher and owner of True West Magazine to SueAnn Martell who was joined by Kirk Mascaro, Ann Davis and P.J. Jensen during 2007's Heritage Days.

Gunslingers, ladies of questionable repute and a bevy of beds tearing down Main Street are but a fraction visitors can expect to encounter next week in Helper during Heritage Days.

In its fifth year the week-long event to highlight Helper's history is ramped up and ready to deliver a variety of events meant to transport visitors back to the days when the fastest gun ruled. Cowboy and gunslinging history will be woven with tales of the town's railroad history.

"This year, we have more events than ever," said Darrin Teply, a sponsor and organizer of the event.

Railroad buffs will be treated to an enormous model train display set up by the Provo-based Ophir Tintic Model Railroad Club at the Helper auditorium.

"It will fill the whole the auditorium," Teply said.

Ophir Tintic was formed in 1990 by a group with a common interest in mining railroads, according to the history on the website

Since its founding the club has been building and adding to its modular layout. In 1996 the club was asked to build a permanent layout in the Orem Heritage Museum.

Helper's Heritage Days, in its present incarnate, kicked off in 2003 alongside the unveiling of "Helper - the Hub of Carbon County" exhibit, according to Teply.

By its second year the celebration was able to boast that visitors from as far away as San Diego made the trek to travel back in time.

Helper's Heritage Days at a glance

• Tuesday, June 3 - Ghost Towns by Dusk, 7 p.m Meet at the railroad museum.
• Thursday, June 5 - 2nd Annual Bordello Ball, 7 p.m. Buy tickets by June 4, call 472-3009, cost $25 per person, $45 for couples.
• Friday, June 6, Sat, June 7 - 1st Annual Helper Model Railroad Show", noon-7 p.m. Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday Free at Helper Civic Auditorium.
• Friday, June 6 - Old West Evening Outdoors, Hillbilly Voodoo plays at 6 p.m., Free at the Main Street stage next to the post office.
• Saturday, June 7 - Old West Chuckwagon Breakfast, 8 a.m-10 a.m, At the Balance Rock Eatery.
• Saturday, June 7 - Family Heritage Day, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Variety of venues and activities.
• Saturday, June 7 - 2:30-5 p.m, Bordello Bed Race, Teams will steam down Main Street.

Each year, the organizers say they have strived to bring more Old West entertainment and education to the event.

Their efforts paid off by the third year when True West Magazine bestowed the designation of the number 10 True West Town on Helper.

However, the event hit paydirt when the same magazine moved Helper up to the number one spot in 2007.

According to Teply, the celebration only gets better and better, this year being no exception.

This year's week-long event features a wide variety of wild west activities that include a night under the stars with Helper's own Hillbilly Voodoo, cowboy poets and of course some grub.

Speaking of grub a chuckwagon breakfast at the Balance Rock Eatery will kick off the full day of events on Saturday.

The Heritage Days finale is jam packed offering guided museum tours, Old West Hollywood Smokey Blank Shootouts - performed by the Balanced Rock Regulators, mining safety demonstrations, a special photo exhibit of Carbon County's immigrants and a Butch Cassidy look-a-like contest.

Later in the afternoon on Saturday, revved up mattresses will take off down Main Street as teams compete in the Bordello Bed Race.

For full information on the celebration visit or call the Western Mining and Railroad Museum 472-3009. Most events are free however, the museum is accepting donations to aid its expansion project.

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