Longmire Days is going back to basics this year with COVID-19 on the rise.
“We decided to scale it back this year,” said Jennifer McCormick, executive director of the Longmire Foundation. “A little bit more like the first Longmire Days was, because the first Longmire Days was Craig Johnson and the fans.”
There will still be in-person question and answer sessions with Craig Johnson, the author of the Longmire series of books on which the television series was based. Also present will be Marcus Red Thunder, who is the Native American adviser on the books and TV series. The events are planned for Sept. 2-5. But the marquee in-person events associated with Longmire Days — such as the street dance and softball game — are canceled.
Many of the TV show’s actors who usually make an appearance at Longmire Days are in locations with more strict COVID-19 precautions and won’t be able to travel to Buffalo, McCormick said. Instead, they will attend virtual events and question and answer sessions. Actors in virtual attendance will be Robert Taylor, Lou Diamond Phillips, Katee Sackhoff, Louanne Stephens, Adam Bartley, Bailey Chase and A Martinez.
“Craig and Marcus Red Thunder will be carrying the load for us this year, but they’re really good at that,” McCormick said.
The decision to move most of the event online was difficult, but as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Johnson County, McCormick said that it was the best way forward. She said they’ll be taking precautions against COVID-19 by asking all those in attendance to wear masks and social distance as much as possible.
“We want to protect our event, protect the fans, protect the community,” she said. Last year, the entire event was virtual, so this year’s semi-in-person event will be an improvement.
Despite the reduction in in-person events, McCormick said, she still expects visitors to come to Buffalo. In a normal year, there are 10,000 people in Buffalo at any given time during Longmire Days. This year, they’re expecting around 3,000, she said.
This year would have been the 10-year anniversary of Longmire Days, but under the circumstances, McCormick said, the Longmire Foundation will postpone the anniversary celebration until next year.
While every event has a shelf life, McCormick said that she thinks Longmire Days will continue well into the future. Even three years after the series finale of Longmire, the show remains popular, she said, and the Longmire Foundation’s charitable contributions play an important role in the community.
Each year, the Longmire Foundation donates the event’s profits to a national and local charity. This year’s national charity is the Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, which features prominently in Johnson’s next book, McCormick said. The local charity will be Johnson County Search and Rescue.
Longmire tourism also brings many people to Buffalo, McCormick said. It is a year-round industry now, with people coming more often than just Longmire Days. Many Longmire fans travel to Buffalo during the Christmas season, she said.
“If we get them to Buffalo, they fall in love with Buffalo,” McCormick said.