At the 4th of July Celebration in 1931, a boy becoming a man needs a horse of his own. His father has said no, but he disobeys and sets out to buy one. At the same time, his father has other business and gets involved in a personal fight that consumes the entire fairgrounds at the Battle of Vendors Row.
SYNOPSIS: Pilot for Closing the Gap- Series
Billy, a boy of eleven, stares out the truck window as his father, Terrence, drives into the town of Fairplay, Colorado, on a warm morning in 1931. A large banner hangs over the main street and reads: Welcome to Fairplay’s 4th of July Celebration. The town has planned a grand shindig of a day, including a parade, festivities at the fairgrounds and stockyards complete with a fair, and concluded with a big dance and fireworks.
Later that morning, Billy’s father unloads the horses at the corrals. When Terrence completes the unloading, he sends his boy off to the fairgrounds as he has a business to do. They agree to meet back at the truck in four hours.
Billy makes his way along the stockyard corrals and soon finds himself on Vendor’s row. It is a wide-open thoroughfare about two-hundred feet long, a temporary dirt street where thirty or more shops are established, all with tents, awnings, or open canopy tents. All the vendors hope to sell their wares as the people head up to the auction barn and the fair’s main entrance.
The sounds and smells of the midway engulf Billy’s senses as he is glad to be off the ranch. The old homestead was a lonely place with his mother gone. His father had become downright unsociable for the last two years.
On Vendor’s Row, he sees Miss Sandy, who he met earlier in the day when his father stopped on their way to the fair. Billy sold his homegrown vegetables at the South Park Mercantile store for four-dollars-eighty-seven cents. With the money in his pocket, he is tempted to buy some cotton candy but decides to save what little money he has for something more substantial.
He wanders from tent to tent, meeting all the different vendors selling their goods, displaying some gadgets, or selling a service. He feels the small leather bag in his pocket. And this sets his mind to thinking again. Inside the pouch is four-dollars-eighty-seven cents. It is not enough money for what he dreams of buying. He has to have; a pet of his own, not just any pet but a horse of his own. He is about a man now, and every man needs a good horse.
Not watching where he is going, he bumps into Patti, a girl from school, and she asks him if he is going to the dance. Billy tries to answer back but gets all tongue-tied. He finally answers and says the wrong thing; he has no time for dancing and just comes to buy a horse. She quickly leaves with hurt feelings. Billy looks after her wondering what he said was wrong and why he acted so strangely. She had always been his friend, but why was he feeling so odd and had a pain in his stomach?
Billy makes his way to the auction barn forgetting the girl. Through a series of events, by the time he leaves the sale barn, he has bought a horse! A pony purchased for four-dollars-eighty-seven cents. He takes the horseback to the trailer with his mind racing. How is he going to explain to his father why he has bought a horse against his orders? Times were tough, and having another animal to feed was out of the question.
Billy’s father returns to the truck and sees a scruffy-looking, spindly-legged pony tied to the trailer. But he has to deal with a no-account cowboy first bothering his son and upsetting the new pony. He kicks the cowboy back to wherever he came from. Terrence hardly knows what to say. He is frustrated and leaves the boy with his new pony as he needs to go for a walk and think it over. Where did that cowpoke get off to?
Terrence finds himself angry and irritated back on the midway, trying to calm down and think things through when he spies his enemy at the other end of the street. The outlaw Pike is a man who stole his horses and tried to kill him. They see each other simultaneously and go for their guns but only slap leather, as firearms are not allowed at the fair. Both men stride toward each other and get into a brutal fistfight right there in the middle of the midway.
The fight escalates as they fight in, around, and through the vendor tents. People pick their fighter bets laid, and sides are chosen. The two men go at each other like prizefighters doing their best to do the most damage to their opponent.
All hell breaks out as fights explode everywhere on the street. With all the vendors, passers-by, loafing miners, idle cowpokes, stockyard men, carnies from the fair, and even a few women get into the brawl. But the uproar is stopped by the law before anyone gets too hurt. The fight on Vendor’s Row is a disaster for the shopkeepers. With shop wares tossed everywhere, and most tents were demolished.
The sheriff guilt’s everyone in the crowd for destroying such a great day; they should be ashamed. With the prodding of the sheriff and accompanied by a brass band playing the Battle Hymn of the Republic, attitudes change as all involved shake hands and help put Vendor’s row back together. All but the two fighters who started it. They agree this is only round 2 and will finish their fight when nobody is around. But that will have to wait as the sheriff arrests Pike for a previous offense.
Terrence returns to where Billy is waiting with his new pony. His feelings have softened, and he agrees everyone needs a good horse. He changes the subject and says it is time we get social again. So let’s go to that dance! Billy is shocked. The dance?
Billy is pleased and surprised about how the day turned out. He finally had a pet of his own, a horse. But Billy was a little nervous about the dance and concerned with the young girl Patti. He knew he was sweet on her, but now that he had a horse, it would make all the difference. Terrence pats his son on the shoulder, looks over at Billy’s pony, and can only laugh. Billy bought a horse.
Written by Sid Kramer (USA)