FESTIVAL OF THE WEST

A couple of weeks ago I said I had talked to Mary Brown, the head wrangler for Festival of the West and she said to keep an eye on their web site because something exciting was going to happen.

Last night I talked to Jim Brown…Mary’s husband…and he told me to take a look at their web site.

So, when I got back home I did just that.

It seems they have put together some investors and the event is returning in March of 2013. Right now they’re looking at Scottsdale, Arizona’s WestWorld for the venue, but that may change.

They promise the 2013 event will be bigger than ever.

You may want to visit their web site yourself. It’s: www.festivalofthewest.com.

CELEBRATION OF COWBOY MUSIC

Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29, the Arizona Chapter of the Western Music Association is putting on a celebration of cowboy music at Old Tucson studios in Tucson, Arizona.

Throughout each day, in addition to Old Tucson’s signature shows and attractions, Western Music Association luminaries will perform on multiple stages. Scheduled artists include: The Sons of the Pioneers, The Bill Ganz Western Band, Miss Devon and The Outlaw, Jon Messenger, Bill Barwick, Keeter Stuart, Mountain Saddle Band, The Tumbling Tumbleweeds, Kristyn Harris, David Rychener and Call of the West!

For more information go to: www.OldTucson.com

Incidentally, the picture is of the Sons of the Pioneers.

THE VIRGINIAN

Today is the 78th birthday of James Drury, TVs Virginian. The Virginian was the first 90-minute color western TV series. It aired from 1962-1971, and was the third longest running western series in the history of television.

The TV show was an adaptation of the 1902 Owen Wister western novel, “The Virginian, A Horseman of the Plains.”

It’s interesting that in both Owen Wister’s novel and the TV show, the lead character was never given a name other than “Virginian.”

The fact that no one knew his real name added mystery to the character.

The two pictures are of James at the time of the Virginian’s TV series and today.

BAT MASTERSON

I find Bat Masterson one of the more intriguing men of the Old West.  He is known as a gunfighter, but he was in very few gun fights.

The last gunfight he was in took place on this day back in 1881.  It was to help out his brother Jim.  Jim owned a business in Dodge City and was having trouble with Al Updegraff, a business partner.  It had even involved gunfire.

I don’t know if Jim actually said the words, “I going to get my big brother and he’ll beat you up,” but Bat, in Tombstone at the time, heard about the conflict and jumped on a train to Dodge City.

Not a man to mince words, Bat immediately spotted Updegraff and brother-in-law Peacock and said, “I have come over a thousand miles to settle this.  I know you are heeled, now fight!”  All three men immediately drew their guns.

In the fracas Updegraff took a bullet in his right lung.  The mayor and sheriff arrived with shotguns and stopped the shooting.  No one was mortally injured in the shooting, and in accordance with Old West standards, the gunfight was fought fairly.  So Masterson was fined $8.  He paid the fine and took the next train out of Dodge City.

As an aside, had Bat not left Tombstone to help his brother, the chances are excellent he would have been around to help his friend Wyatt Earp in another gunfight…The one that took place at the OK Corral.

BUTCH CASSIDY

On this date back in 1866 Robert Leroy Parker was born in Beaver, Utah Territory. But we know him as Butch Cassidy.

Supposedly, he picked up the name “Butch” from the short period of time he worked in a Rock Springs, Wyoming butcher shop. The last name came from a minor criminal mentor by the name of Mike Cassidy…I also suspect he didn’t want to bring shame on his strict Mormon family by using Parker.

Although Butch’s organizational skills and personality were probably suited more for a legitimate business life, he assembled a group of ruffians known as the “wild bunch.” Even though they could be considered misfits, Butch was able to meld them into a sophisticated criminal operation.

By the 1900’s the wild days of the West were fading and law enforcement was becoming more effective. So Butch, The Sundance Kid and Etta place fled to Argentina.

Here’s where legend and fact get blurry. Some say Butch and the Sundance Kid were killed by Bolivian troops. However members of his family maintain Butch came back to the United States and died of old age under another name.

Just as an aside. There are more than a dozen Old West outlaws, including Billy the Kid, who were supposedly not really killed, and they lived a long life under an alias. Sometimes I wonder if any Old West outlaw was ever killed.

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