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Marsha McLean: Live from City Hall

Posted: April 13, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 13, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Santa Clarita’s rich Western heritage takes center stage each year at the city’s acclaimed Cowboy Festival. This year marks the 20th annual event, which attracts more than 10,000 visitors each year from all over the country and beyond.

More than two decades ago, Santa Clarita was inspired by the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, and decided to create its own unique celebration honoring our valley’s own Western history — from art and music to film and television.

In 1994, the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival made its debut, highlighting the authentic Old West through authentic music, poetry, cowboy gear, food and storytelling in a setting that is uniquely Santa Clarita.

This year, the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival presented by Logix Federal Credit Union begins Thursday and runs through Sunday, April 21.

The Cowboy Festival will include several related events held throughout the community leading up to the festival weekend at Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio.

Cowboy Couture, the Western-inspired, cowboy-infused premiere fashion event of the year, will kick off the 2013 Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival. The fashion show rides into town on April 18 in the heart of Old Town Newhall at the Repertory East Playhouse.

Festivities start at 6:30 p.m. with a reception in The Hydeaway Lounge, The Rep’s exclusive full-service cocktail bar, with the fashion show starting at 8 p.m.

Western designer fashions, vintage cowboy apparel and celebrity models make this event a great kick-off to the festival. You may shop for the latest Western wear before and after the show.

For tickets to Cowboy Couture, call 661-288-0000 or go to

The festivities continue Thursday as Senses, a free street party in Old Town Newhall, is held from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Main Street. With the theme "Saddle Up," the evening will be filled with country music, line dancing, gourmet food trucks, Western vendors and the unveiling of the newest Walk of Western Stars for Lee Marvin, Stuart Hamblen and Rodolfo Acosta.

For those looking to enjoy an intimate evening with a Western flair, check out Melody Ranch Movie Night, featuring a Western-style dinner under the stars on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Guests will enjoy the classic film "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" on the streets of the famous movie studio ranch. Tickets are $60 per person and include dinner, the movie and a commemorative gift.

With various other events happening throughout the week, the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival is highlighted by the weekend events at Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio,

Fresh off the film "Django: Unchained," Melody Ranch comes to life with serenading performers, ladies and gents dressed in Western gear, Western food and merchandise, activities for kids, blacksmiths, trick ropers, and more.

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Cowboy Festival, the city has brought back many beloved performers, including: Riders in the Sky, cowboy comedian Baxter Black, Hot Club Cowtown, Sons of the San Joaquin, cowboy balladeer Don Edwards, The Saddle Cats, Ginny Mac and Sourdough Slim.

Newcomers Kristyn Harris and The Haunted Windchimes will also appear in the 2013 lineup.

Visitors to the ranch will also enjoy Western stories by poets Pat Richardson, Andy Nelson and Joe Herrington, as well as entertainment from magician Pop Haydn, gun spinner Joey Dillon, banjo master John Reynolds, Saloon Pianist Dave Bourne and trick ropers David Thornbury, John Hustead and Jim Townsley.

Western attractions for kids of all ages, such as living history exhibits, panning for gold, leather working, storytimes at the Buckaroo Book Shop, and a host of other activities will keep guests entertained all day long.

Throughout its history, the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival has been a celebration of the men and women who have defined the Western genre and shaped the world’s view of the American West. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to visit Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio and experience the sights, sounds and flavors of the Old West by celebrating the 20th anniversary of the nationally acclaimed Cowboy Festival.

Tickets to the Cowboy Festival weekend are available online and on the day of the event at the Melody Ranch shuttle site, located at the corner of 13th Street and Railroad Avenue. Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for kids.

For a full schedule of the 20th Annual Cowboy Festival events or to purchase tickets, visit or call (661) 250-3735.

Marsha McLean is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at


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