One of the nation’s finest western music festivals starts this week in Santa Clarita, Calif. The 21st Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival runs April 24-27. Smaller events take place on Thursday and Friday with the biggest attractions occurring on Saturday and Sunday.
The who’s who of cowboy entertainment will perform during the weekend. The Sons of the San Joaquin, Waddie Mitchell, Don Edwards, Cow Bop, Dave Stamey and Belinda Gail will all be on hand to entertain.
Jack and Joe Hannah of the Sons of the San Joaquin are now in their 80s and winding down their touring careers. This could be one of their last Southern California appearances.
The weekend portion of the festival takes place at the Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio, formerly owned by Gene Autry. The property still functions as a studio but shuts down each year for this event.
In addition to the best Western music has to offer, Main Street is home to vendors offering home décor, art, jewelry and much more. Street performers such as trick ropers wander down Main Street to entertain the young and old alike. Western authors will be signing their books.
On Sunday, before the main event, Cowboy Church is held down the road at the Master’s College. One or more of the biggest names in the Western genre often performs during the service.
Some would argue the music is not the biggest attraction. What is then? It's the peach cobbler. The lines are longer for the cowboy cobbler made in old-fashioned cast iron pots over a campfire than for anything else at the festival.
The Sons of the San Joaquin will be performing both days. They are a trio consisting of Joe, Jack and Lon Hannah. Jack is an award-winning Western music songwriter.
A Buffalo Soldier encampment will be located near the entrance of Melody Rancho Motion Picture Studio in the Northeast corner. Both the soldiers and their families will demonstrate what life was like in the 1800s.
Band of the California Battalion
The Band of the California Battalion marches down Main Street at various times throughout the festival.. They will also be in concert on the Heritage Stage on Sunday.
This will be Don Edwards' 26th appearance at the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival. If the audience is lucky, Waddie Mitchell will join him on stage for a song/poem or two.
An Old Stagecoach
Props and relics from days gone by are on display throughout the venue. Some are real and some are from the movies. This old stagecoach is a great example.
Merchandise for Sale
Vendors come from near and far to sell their wares. They range from trinkets for the kids to high-end furniture, clothing, decor, jewelry and artwork.
A Trick Roper
Street performers are located throughout the festival. Trick ropers, gun slingers and the like will be on hand for photos and to provide some old-fashioned entertainment.
There are those who pay the $20 for admission and stand in line for an hour just to buy Peach Cobbler and then leave. The cobbler is made in cast iron pots over a campfire and the lines to buy the confection are long.