May Day arrived in Santa Clarita, but at the Cowboy Festival you weren’t likely to find May Poles. More likely polecats and other cowboy critters.
The 18th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival continued Sunday at the Melody Ranch motion picture studio in Newhall with pleasant, sunny weather. Sure a gust or two would kick up some dust and gawking at the two-storey old west buildings might lead you to misstep into mud puddles, but you couldn’t ask for a more comfortable stroll back in time.
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You Must Be This Tall To Ride The Cobbler
The peach cobbler, scooped out from cast iron Dutch ovens was delicious. So good in fact, I was several bites into it before remembering to stop and take a picture. One’s taste buds are jolted by the biting, salty crust then brought back to balance with the sweet, creamy whipped topping only to be shocked back again by the tartness of the peaches. Quite a thrill ride for the mouth.
Other cowboy delicacies offered were the Biscuits and Beans and the Biscuits and Gravy (with sausage). The olde west sign, however, read “Bisuits and Gravy.” That’s either breakfast for Jesuits or some cowpoke fell asleep in the one-room school house during spelling lessons.
Along the dusty main street “Trickroper” Dave Thronbury spun his rope around Logan Langewich, 10.
“I didn’t think he could keep it in the air like that,” said Logan.
His 11-year-old brother, Morgan, jumped inside too. With a western name like Morgan, (see Earp), I figured correctly that he would like to live back in the old west.
“Horse riding would be better for the earth,” Morgan stated.
“But it would be more stinkier,” Logan added.
Round and Round
Life goes round and round for all of us, but never moreso than for Anne Dinsdale who spins Alpaca on an Australian Majacraft spinning wheel. Forgive her if the spinning wheel isn’t exactly a period piece, her antique one broke on Saturday.
“The wood gets dry,” she says, showing me a mysterious, horse-shoe shaped wooden piece from her 130-year old wheel.
Dinsdale then demonstrates weaving on a 1880s-era loom. I ask her if she sells what she makes. She clucked at the notion. The spinning of wool and weaving on the loom is so time consuming, she explains, she would have to charge a fortune to make it worth while.
“I’d rather give it to people as gifts,” Dinsdale said.
I can tell that my wife, who is fingering the soft fabric, wishes she was one of those “people.”
Silver Queen Mine Regulators
One example of how the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival brings in out of town money can be found in the Fool’s Gold Food Court at one of the round tables covered in a red and white checkered table cloth (plastic).
Joseph Pane (pronounced pan-A) from Alhambra sits with his cowpoke pal Gus Costa, an Italian restaurateur from Paramount (near Long Beach…I asked)
Pane is a member of SASS, (no, not a teenager organization but, it would make sense wouldn’t it?), the Single Action Shooting Society, an organization with 70 thousand members who like to shoot at new targets with antique weapons.
“Basically it’s a game,” Pane explained with a flinty-eyed stare.
(Before I got too scared, I reminded myself that real sidearms aren’t allowed on the ranch. Neither are video cameras, which perhaps are considered even more dangerous to some.)
The shooting competition is staged in a unique, characterized, "Old West" style. It is a timed sport in which shooters compete for prestige on a course of different shooting stages.
Pane’s team is called “The Silver Queen Mine Regulators.” Go Regulators! Sis, Boom, Bah!
Joey Dillon has been called “The Best Trick and Fancy Gun Handler” by True West magazine. (True West should know, right? I’d believe them over, say, “Better Homes and Gardens.)
Dillon combines humor along with spinning, slinging and juggling his twin .45 caliber Cimarron Colt Peacemakers. Dillon jokes that he went to college for three semesters, but that’s not where he learned his fancy gunplay.
“My father and I watched lots of Westerns,” Dillon said.
He taught himself by replaying Western movies and TV shows in slow motion. Dillon now trains movie stars how to perform tricks on camera. He coached Josh Brolin for the film “Jonah Hex.” (Forgot to ask him if he taught actress Megan Fox a thing or two.)
To see Dillon perform tricks click here 
Poetry and Music on the Milk Carton
The Cowboy Festival lost it’s “Poetry and Music” moniker, but I found poetry of a kid kind on the California Music Hall Stage.
Over 400 entries were submitted to the Cowboy Festival Youth Poetry Roundup Contest. Nice winners were selected from three grade categories: 1st through 3rd, 4th through 6th, and 7th through 9th.
The wet-behind-the-ears poets read their poems onstage to an enthusiastic crowd. The winners are as follows:
1st – 3rd Grades
1st Place: Griffin Mc Peters
2nd Place: Alicia Barreca
3rd Place: Peter Walsh
4th – 6th Grades
1st Place: Jessica Cuthbertson
2nd Place: Amy Kelley
3rd Place: Roni Burkman
1st Place: Ryan Hartwig
2nd Place: Hanna Hohl
3rd Place: Abigail Norris
Congratulations to them all. And with that I ride off into the sunset.