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Santa Clarita CA
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S.C.V. History
October 29
1932 - Highway 99 completed through Weldon Canyon, bypassing Ridge Route [story]
Hwy 99

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Tuesday, Apr 21, 2015

darrylmanzer0215The 22nd annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival has come and gone. I thought it was great. I love it being moved to Hart Park and Heritage Junction, plus the shows in Downtown Newhall. What do you think?

It was good to have lots of shade and places to sit. I know the vendors in Heritage Junction liked the location, and of course we had the four “battles” this weekend. You know – them-thar Yankees shooting at them-thar Rebels. The cannon didn’t hurt anything in the Edison or Kingsbury houses, but things sure rattled a bit. The Fire Department was a bit concerned about the sparks from the cannons and the muskets, so folks got to see the “battlefield” being sprayed down with water just prior to every battle. It would be hard to explain how cannon fire started a brush fire in a county park.

It seemed there was a lot more to do and see this year. More shows and more places to see them. Stretching from The VU to Heritage Junction, there was about a half-mile of attractions and entertainment.

I’m sure there were some things we can learn from this year, like spreading out the vendors a little and maybe placing a few more in Heritage Junction. It seemed like a solid wall of sales tents. Maybe, as a friend of mine suggested, there should be false fronts built in front of the tents for the vendors so it looks more like a “town.”

The Buckaroo Bookstore had a great time in the Historical Society’s not-quite-finished, soon-to-be museum, the Pardee House at Heritage Junction. I know Bobbie Jean was happy it has air conditioning. Only problem was that the electrical upgrades and new heating and cooling system overloaded the main breaker in the panel that supplies power to all of the buildings in Heritage Junction. Guess the old power supplies will have to be upgraded. We were able to restore power quickly and now know the limitations.

There are some major thanks to be handed out to many people, but a huge shout-out goes to Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich for getting our handicapped ramp for the Newhall Ranch House and the bus for the tour of the SCV conducted by the Historical Society. (Would anyone out there like to have a similar tour this summer? Let me know.) Thank you, Supervisor Antonovich. Your efforts have helped us all in so many ways. This year we saw how quickly you and your office reacted to our needs for a ramp. You came through in a matter of maybe an hour. That was just plain fantastic.

Wolf Creek Brewery was great at the Junction, too. Every time I looked up, some new kegs were arriving – or so it seemed. Were all y’all that thirsty? There are plans to have water and soft drink sales, too, next year.

You know that if you or your kids didn’t ring the train bell and the Ramona Chapel bell when you visit, you have to go back and do that? It drives us crazy when folks take the time to visit but miss out on the bells.

If you visited the Saugus Train Station during Cowboy, you not only got to shop in our fine gift store and visit the museum, but in the freight room, the Art Directors Guild (film and TV art directors) had a great exhibition. Lots of stuff from just about every Western movie ever made.

I wonder if the ghosts in the Newhall Ranch House caused any problems for our vendors. Nothing happened Friday or Saturday night, so maybe they behaved themselves. Last month we had two cans of paint go missing one night when the UCLA film students were shooting in the place. They finished painting one evening and locked up. I checked all of the windows and doors. The two 1-gallon cans were sitting in the middle of the room when we left. We have yet to find those cans of paint. What the heck … I didn’t like the color anyway. It is said to have happened to other items before. The stuff always shows up in some strange place later. At least that is what I’ve been told by someone who knew somebody who may have heard it from a friend who had a friend … you get the idea.

So I think the Cowboy Festival was a huge success in the new location. Sure, I miss Melody Ranch, but the shade and nearness to town, good food and great entertainment are what it is all about. It was really a community event in the town and not confined to a small area. I mean, really – a half-mile of stuff to see. It doesn’t get better. It was a good opening in the new venue.

For me, the best part was that thousands of folks got to see Heritage Junction. Many told me they had never seen it before and want to return.

When all y’all come back, please bring your credit card or checkbook (we also take cold, hard cash) and become a member. Applications are available online [here]. Open every weekend from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and if you call, by appointment, too. You don’t have to wait until the next Cowboy Festival to visit and join.

Until then, keep them doggies movin’, cowhands. See you on the trail at the Junction soon.


Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley, where he serves as executive director of the SCV Historical Society. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

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  1. Cheryl Dellepiane says:

    Great observations; I agree on all counts. I like the suggestion of constructing false fronts for the vendor tents, and there would be a whole year to work on them. Santa Clarita just keeps getting more awesome!

  2. nadiya says:

    As a vendor I would like to also say I loved the new location. Putting vendors on the grass facing the mansion with 3′ in between each one would be nice. That would also allow vendors and performers to park on the pavement and the guests to walk on the grass in the shade of the trees!
    Loved being there and look forward to next year.

  3. i enjoyed the new location. Needed more food booths. Loved the new activities.

  4. Did not like that they had blocked Newhall Ave. What a horrible idea .. Not to mention you have to also think about the people who live in the area ..

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