1968 the following bylaw was adopted, “WHEREAS, there being a group of individuals who desire to produce, direct, act and otherwise participate in a theater group, we do hereby organize and establish ourselves as the Picketwire Players.”
June that same year, “Laura of the Shadows”, was presented to the community under the direction of Mickie Miller and Picketwire’s first President, the Rev. Will Bingham. They performed the melodrama in the La Junta High School auditorium. In March 1977, good friends offered to help organize the Picketwire Patrons of the Theater … The objective of the Patrons is to give financial and moral support to the Picketwire Players… Patron donations are used to make Picketwire Center a better, more attractive and more usable community center for everyone!”
In total over $50,000 has been invested in the Picketwire Center. Heating system repairs, plumbing system repairs, lighting repairs, roof repairs, new stage lighting and extension to the old stage, a new orchestra pit, a new costume storage-dressing room under the stage, remodeling of the old classroom into a Patrons’ Lounge — the list goes on and on. “Businesses, organization, individuals … have always seemed to be there when help was needed … the creation of a Center for Performing and Visual Arts has been truly a community accomplishment.
In late 1975. East Otero R-1 (La Junta) school board first agreed to lease ($1 per year), then approved selling (10-year note for $5,000) an abandoned school auditorium on the corner of Eighth and San Juan in La Junta. Agreement stipulates the building with all improvements reverts back to the school district should the theater organization ever become defunct. (Paid off “mortgage” was ceremoniously burned, on stage, in December 1986.)
It took a full year of hard work by volunteers, two Centennial-Bicentennial year grants, special events by La Junta Lions and Rotary clubs and the Picketwire Players’ own “community auction” to bring new life to a 40-year-old old structure.