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[KHTS] – The Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival 2014 will ride into the Santa Clarita Valley this weekend at Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio with four stages of all-star entertainment and a new look.

cowboy crowdA new production filming at Melody Ranch will require the Festival to reduce access to Main Street and to relocate the food court and other Festival venues.

“We have rearranged some venues,” said Mike Fleming, Festival director. “The food court will be between the two main stages and the main Melody Ranch stage will be closer to the main gate.”

Melody Ranch has served as the filming location for some of Hollywood’s most iconic Western film and television productions including “High Noon,” “Gunsmoke,” “Deadwood,” and most recently “Django Unchained.”

“It’s a working movie studio so we have to adjust our ‘footprint,’ but all the great things about Cowboy Festival will still be here, just in different places,” said Fleming.

Named the “Best Cowboy Music Gathering” by True West magazine, the 21st annual Cowboy Festival will be held April 24-27 at various venues around the Santa Clarita Valley.

“The Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival is unique among all the cowboy gatherings in the country,” said Fleming. “It’s held at Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studios, with all of its history.”

Entertainment

Festival entertainment, April 26-27 at Melody Ranch, will feature headliners Sons of the San Joaquin, Don Edwards and Waddie Mitchell as well as a host of returning favorites including Jon Chandler, Dave Stamey, the Messick Family, Cow Bop, Nancy Lee and Belinda Gail. Newcomers in the 2014 Cowboy Festival lineup include Mary Kaye and Gary Allegretto and Ian Espinoza.

“Allegretto and Espinoza are very cool,” said Fleming. “They play what could be described as Cowboy blues. Gary Allegretto plays an amazing harmonica.”

The Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival is a favorite event for many of the performers.

Jon Chandler

“We’re looking forward to coming out to Santa Clarita and having a great time,” said Chandler who will be accompanied by acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin and resophonic guitar virtuoso Ernie Martinez.

Chandler was chosen Best Living Western Musician by True West Magazine, which also named his Westerns “best Western CD.” He was awarded the Western Writers of America’s prestigious Spur Award for Best Song for Linwood, a fictional examination of the last hours of the notorious gunman Doc Holliday’s life. He is the recipient of the Western Folklife Center’s Yellowstone-Teton Songwriting Contest Audience Award for his song, The Road That Leads to Yellowstone.

In addition to appearing 1 p.m. Sunday on the main Melody Ranch Stage, Chandler will team up with Belinda Gail for a concert Saturday night at the William S. Hart Mansion and Museum. Tickets are $70 each. Chandler can also be found performing at various days and times at the Festival on the Cowboy Corner Stage and the California Music Hall.

Dave Stamey

"The Pursuit"

“The Pursuit”

Returning Cowboy Festival veteran Stamey said the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival is “A-number-one on my list of places to perform.”

Stamey is on the road nearly 200 days a year performing throughout the West.

“The Cowboy Festival is a wonderful top-notch professional venue with an excellent sound and stage set up for us,” he said. “Any year that I get to come to Santa Clarita is a banner year for me.”

Stamey has been voted three times Entertainer of the Year, three times Male Performer of the Year and twice Songwriter of the Year by the Western Music Association, and received the Will Rogers Award from the Academy of Western Artists.

Stamey said performing at historic Melody Ranch is another “plus.”

“Where else can you perform for people who have become your friends in a setting where they filmed ‘Gunsmoke’ and ‘Deadwood’ and all those wonderful Western movies and television shows?” Stamey said. “It’s a magical setting.”

In addition to performing 1 p.m. Saturday on the Melody Ranch Stage, Stamey will also perform 11 a.m. Friday, April 25 at Rancho Camulos in Piru. Tickets are $60 each and include lunch and tour.

Gary Allegretto and Ian Espinoza

Gary Allegretto and Ian Espinoza were recently named the 2014 Academy of Western Artists award winners for “Western Duo/Group of the Year.

Allegretto is a singer/songwriter and harmonica virtuoso who has earned a Best of the West Award and five Western Music Association Award nominations, including Outstanding Entertainer and Outstanding Instrumentalist. He’s also been recognized with two Grammy Award nominations.

Espinoza is a guitar virtuoso who brings “peerless guitar expertise” on his 1930′s National steel guitar to the stage.

Cowboy Festival newcomer Allegretto said he is looking forward to performing at the Festival and also teaching school children in the SCV in the Cowboy in the Schools program.

“I will be teaching hundreds of kids to play harmonica and entertaining in two area public schools on Thursday and Friday before the festival,” Allegretto said.

Allegretto said Southern California historically has a strong cowboy culture that often gets overlooked by the rest of the country.

“That’s why it is important to have a Cowboy Festival here in Southern California,” he said. “Before Hollywood cowboys there were the vaqueros that inhabited the area.”

Cattle ranching, and cowboys, have been a part of California history since the first Spanish missions were established in the 1700s.

Other attractions

In addition to the music the 2014 Cowboy Festival will include a mix of attractions, including gold panning and leather working for children, living history exhibits, trick ropers, food and shopping.

Things to see and experience include:

The Cowboy Cultural Committee: Festival veterans know that this unique food booth offers up homemade peach cobbler cooked over coals, Cowboy coffee, biscuits and gravy and tri-tip sandwiches.

Joey Dillon: Joey “Rocketshoes” Dillon is a multiple “World Champion Gunslinger,” Hollywood gun coach to the stars, actor, and historian. He has numerous magazine, T.V. and film credits including the History Channel, Discovery Channel, NBC and Spike T.V. He also worked as the weapons instructor for Josh Brolin in “Jonah Hex.”

The New Buffalo Soldiers: The group was organized to be an historical educational organization in July 1992. Members strive to educate and enlighten people of all ages, about the contributions of black men on the American western frontier. They recreate the lives of the men of Company H, Tenth Regiment of United States Cavalry between 1867 and 1871.

Tickets

A day pass to the 2014 Cowboy Festival is $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. Two-day passes are available at $30 for adults and $15 for children.

Hours of the festival will 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 26 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, April 27.

No parking is available at Melody Ranch, free parking is available the corner of Railroad Avenue and 13th Street where a free shuttle will transport guests to Melody Ranch. No video cameras are allowed at the Ranch.

Spotlight events:

Friends of the Festival ($150) – This all-access pass includes admission to the Cowboy Festival for both days at Melody Ranch (April 26 and 27), preferred seating in the first five rows for all performances at the Melody Ranch Theater, all-weekend access to the VIP Bunkhouse at Melody Ranch with free food and drink and VIP Shuttle service.

Thursday, April 24:

An Evening with Mr. and Mrs. Wyatt Earp ($35) 7:30 p.m. William S. Hart mansion. Meet the real life Earp relatives as they perform their award-winning play based on the true life accounts of the Tombstone events and Wyatt and Josie’s volatile relationship.

Friday, April 25:

Melody Ranch Movie Night ($60) 6:30 p.m. Enjoy an intimate western-style dinner, exclusive shopping and a once-in-a-lifetime viewing of classic film “The Magnificent Seven” – all under the stars on Melody Ranch’s iconic Main Street.

Growing up with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans ($50) 7:30 p.m. Join Cheryl Rogers Barnett, daughter of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and America’s foremost film historian, Leonard Maltin, for a night filled with stories, family home movies, rare career footage, and audience Q & A in the intimate living room of William S. Hart’s mansion.

Saturday, April 26:

An Evening with Jon Chandler and Belinda Gail ($70) 8 p.m. Join “America’s Western Sweetheart,” Belinda Gail, and the “Voice of the Colorado Rockies,” Jon Chandler, for a night of traditional and contemporary western music at the William S. Hart mansion.

Cowboy Cabaret featuring Cow Bop and The Lucky Stars ($35) 8 p.m. Get up close and personal with the best Western swing musicians in the country as they jam the night away at the Repertory East Playhouse on Main Street in downtown Newhall.

For information about the 2014 Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival visit cowboyfestival.org or call 661-250-3735.

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