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Giddyup Santa Clarita

Posted: April 27, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 26, 2014 9:15 p.m.

Gunspinner Joey Dillon performs at the 21st annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival at the Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio.

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Amid the charcoal smell of barbecues, the twirl of parasols and the jingling of spurs, thousands attended the 21st annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival on Saturday and enjoyed a sunny day of Western culture.

“There’s more going on here than there was last year,” said returning festival patron Anita McLaughlin of Winnetka.

She and her family have ties to the festival, she said, making the event at the Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio seem more like a homecoming than a festival.

Her husband, Lee, worked on the 1960’s TV show “Bonanza” and also in Western movies, many of which were filmed right where McLaughlin and her family were standing Saturday.

For veteran stunt man Bobby McLaughlin, who has appeared in acclaimed Western movies such as “Tombstone” and “Silverado,” visiting Melody Ranch was a bit like showing up for work, he said.

As McLaughlin and others reminisced, Diane McLaughlin of Palmdale felt drawn to the peach cobbler simmering in charcoal-heated Dutch ovens.

“I’m standing here because it smells so darn good,” she confessed.

The cast iron pots were being attended to by members of the Cowboy Cultural Committee & Chuckwagon Cooks.
“Anything your mother or wife will cook can be cooked in a Dutch oven,” said cowboy cook Jerry Scherer, noting many festival patrons stopped by Saturday to ask about the Dutch ovens.

Drummer Rich Snyder stopped to chat on his way to join members of his Band of the California Battalion on stage, telling The Signal, “This is the best weather of all the years we’ve played here.”

Snyder’s band has played at the festival the last five years. “It’s a great festival,” he said.

Other artists appearing on the festival’s main stage this year included the Tom Corbett Band, Allegretto & Espinoza, Mary Kaye, the Lucky Stars, and Dave Bourne.

The festival program handed out to patrons quoted Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin: “Every year, this exciting attraction inspires visitors to step back in time and experience the sights, sounds and scenery of the American Frontier.”

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