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Saddle up! The Cowboy Festival rides into town this weekend

Posted: April 16, 2009 1:21 p.m.
Updated: April 25, 2009 9:29 a.m.

You never know who you'll meet at the Cowboy Festival. Joe Sullivan portrays Hopalong Cassidy at the 2008 Cowboy Festival.

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It's hard to imagine that on April 25-26 the 16th annual Cowboy Festival will ride into Melody Ranch. It seems like only yesterday that I was sitting under a spreading oak and enjoying a cowboy breakfast of biscuits and gravy.

Cowboy cobbler, the Sons of the San Joaquin, boots, hats, riding, roping and a wistful nostalgia for a kind of cowboy way of life that seems to be slipping away on the trail of iPods, iPhones, the Internet and Twitter will be on display during the festival, which begins Wednesday, April 22 and runs through Sunday, April 26.

This annual event is so popular that many events are sold out. However, there are plenty of tickets available for the main festival at historic Melody Ranch.

Beginning Wednesday, April 22, Grammy Award winning Riders in the Sky, whose music is featured in the Disney movie "Toy Story," will perform at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at the College of the Canyons.

A variety of attractions are scheduled for April 23 and 24, including an evening of music by Don Edwards at the William S. Hart mansion, an authentic lunch served at the Rancho Camulos Museum with music by Dave Stamey and a Chuckwagon Dinner Show at Heritage Junction in Newhall.

Stamey has played numerous times at the festival since it began. "It has a wonderful ambiance at Melody Ranch," said Stamey. He will be performing songs from his new album, "Come Ride With Me."

Mike Fleming, Cowboy Festival director, said the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival is a one of a kind event. "There are other cowboy festivals, but none in a setting like Melody Ranch," he said.

Fleming said there are many new attractions at this year's Cowboy Festival including expanded activities for children.
Santa Clarita Mayor Frank Ferry urged residents to attend the festival.

"Folks should come out because it is an affordable option for quality family-friendly entertainment. There are expanded kids activities, multicultural aspects, new musical acts and the best peach cobbler this side of the Mississippi."

Phil Lantis, Santa Clarita arts and events director said guests will be able to bring still cameras to Melody Ranch this year.
"We know people enjoy taking photos because it is just a great event and to be able to see Melody Ranch because it is usually closed to the public," Lantis said. "There is so much history out there."

On Saturday, April 25 and Sunday, April 26, the Cowboy Festival rides through the Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio where a number of performances and hands-on attractions will be available for guests to enjoy.

The line-up of Western stars includes hilarious cowboy poet Baxter Black, festival favorites Don Edwards and the Sons of the San Joaquin, and the swing trio Hot Club of Cowtown.

Award-winning crooner R. W. Hampton returns to Melody Ranch, as well as singing cowgirl Joni Harms, Dave Stamey, the Booher Brothers, Sourdough Slim and Syd Masters and the Swing Riders. Cowboy poets Randy Rieman, Gary Robertson, Joe Herrington and cowgirl Diane Tribbitt will spin tales of the old and new West throughout the weekend at the Ranch.

Tickets for the 2009 Cowboy Festival are on sale at or by phone at (661) 284- 1410, where patrons can purchase admission suited to their Festival needs. The current packages include a Daily Admission Ticket to Melody Ranch, costing $20 for adults and $10 for kids age 3-11. Little cowpokes under 3 can visit the festival for a day free of charge. The Two-Day Weekend Pass is available at $30 for adults and $15 for kids 12 and under.

Festival patrons are not permitted to park at Melody Ranch, but a shuttle is provided at 13th Street and Arch Street in Newhall.

For information on attractions, parking, maps and tickets, call (661) 286-4021 or visit



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