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Marsha McLean: Cowboy Festival continues to grow

Posted: April 18, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 18, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Gene Autry is best known as “America’s favorite singing cowboy.” He is an American legend, former Santa Clarita Valley resident, and the only entertainer to have five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Once a year, the gates of Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio, which was formerly owned by Gene Autry, open to the public so that thousands can enjoy Santa Clarita’s annual Cowboy Festival.

My family and I have enjoyed the Cowboy Festival, which takes place in just one week, for many years. There is always something new and exciting to experience.

Recently named the “Best Cowboy Gathering” by readers of True West magazine, the event attracts more than 10,000 national and international visitors and brings together local and regional partners to spotlight Santa Clarita’s unique Western heritage. It showcases our valley to America and the world.

The Cowboy Festival continues to grow in popularity over the years thanks to its unique setting at Melody Ranch, which is a real working movie ranch.

The Veluzat family, who owns the studio, has always graciously worked to balance the festival’s needs with those of production.

This year is no different, as a major movie studio has rented the property for several months. To accommodate our event, festival attendees will notice a few changes to the Cowboy Festival layout at the ranch this year.

The biggest difference for those who have enjoyed the event before is that access on Main Street has been reduced. However, our events team was able to re-configure the layout so that we can still provide the same number of music stages, exhibits, food and gear vendors, and other activities in this unmatched setting.

Last night, Mayor Weste and I had the pleasure of unveiling stars for Charles Bronson and Steve McQueen as part of the Walk of Western Stars ceremony on Main Street.

Mr. Bronson and Mr. McQueen join more than 80 other men and women immortalized in bronze and terrazzo in Old Town Newhall because of their contributions to America’s Western heritage.

We unveiled both stars just a few blocks away from the monthly Senses block party, where “cowboys and cowgirls” enjoyed live music, food trucks and cowboy-themed activities.

If you missed either of these events, don’t worry. There’s still time to get tickets to some of the Cowboy Festival’s signature events, and general admission tickets are still available for Saturday and Sunday, April 26 and 27.

Behind the scenes

If you’ve ever wanted a behind-the-scenes look at the filming taking place in Santa Clarita, then a guided tour with local historians and film aficionados Kim and E.J. Stephens is ideal for you.

You can purchase tickets for their tour — which takes place on Thursday, April 24, at 2 p.m. or on Friday at 10:30 a.m. — and learn a great deal about the people and places that helped make Santa Clarita an iconic destination.

Tickets are also still available for the Mr. & Mrs. Wyatt Earp performance at Hart Mansion. The evening is set in Bill Hart’s living room, where Wyatt Earp’s relatives will perform their award-winning play based on the true story of Tombstone and Wyatt and Josie’s relationship.

On Saturday evening, you can join Jon Chandler and Belinda Gail for an evening of music at the Hart Mansion, or you can head over to the Repertory East Playhouse for an evening of music with The Lucky Stars and Cow Bop.

Tickets are still available for both events and both are truly one-of-a-kind experiences.

The festival

For those who just want to have fun at the ranch, the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, presented by Logix Federal Credit Union next Saturday and Sunday will include live Western music, poetry, entertainment, authentic cowboy treats like the festival’s famous Dutch-oven peach cobbler, activities for all ages, shopping and much more.

This year’s featured performers include the Sons of the San Joaquin, Don Edwards, Waddie Mitchell and Cow Bop, among others.

A few new faces include Mary Kaye and Allegretto and Espinoza. Cowboy poets and entertainers who will be back this year include poet Paul Zarzyski, comedic entertainer Will Roberts, magician Pop Haydn, gun spinner Joey Dillon, and trick roper David Thornbury.

The Cowboy Festival is a great family event with activities such as panning for gold, leather working, and the living history exhibit hosted by The New Buffalo Soldiers. There will be a Buckaroo-themed Story Time, where children can listen to award-winning authors share stories about the American West.

Tickets to the festival at Melody Ranch are available online and can also be purchased on the day of the event at the event shuttle site, located at the corner of 13th Street and Railroad Avenue.

Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for kids (under 12). Children under 3 are free.

For a full schedule of this year’s Cowboy Festival or to purchase tickets, visit or call 661-250-3735.
I look forward to seeing you at this year’s Cowboy Festival.
Councilwoman Marsha McLean is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at



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