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Peg Leg Smith Liars Contest

The desert tradition involves a sense of humor, a sense of history, and a big pile of rocks.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Alysia Gray Painter
    The desert tradition involves a sense of humor, a sense of history, and a big pile of rocks. Be there on the evening of April 2, 2016.

    THROWING ROCKS, as a rule, is definitely in the "don't do it" category in most etiquette books. We leave rocks be, as a rule, wherever they are currently existing, whether we see them along a hiking trail or lining a pool deck in a pal's backyard. There is an exception, however, and it can be found in Borrego Springs. The desert-divine, Salton Sea-adjacent community -- well, adjacent-ish, as desert distances go -- has a pretty famous rock pile, and folks are allowed, and even invited, to add rocks to what's already there. Make that ten rocks, exactly, for there is a legend attached (ever good desert rock pile should have one).

    THE LEGEND... involves a gentleman by the name of Peg Leg Smith -- given name: Thomas -- and a lost gold mine. (Another thing every solid desert legend needs, a lost gold mine.) Some thought Mr. Smith, or Peg Leg, if you prefer, was quite the notable "spinner of tall tales," especially regarding the location of this unfound fortune, and a local myth sprang up around the figure. So much so that A) there is a street just east of Borrego Springs, close to the beautiful badlands, named after him and B) every April Fools' Day, or rather the first Saturday in April, fans gather to tell a few outlandish untruths. That first Saturday, in 2016, is on...

    APRIL 2... and you can bet your ten gallon that Borrego buffs and legend lovers and people who like colorful slices of history'll be out to stir up a little not-too-serious fun as the sun sinks behind the mountains. The evening showdown of words kicks off at 7:15, and participants are invited to tell a short-ish story involving gold and/or Peg Leg. Yep, you should probably costume-up for this, with dusty boots and maybe an Old West-y vest, but the real meat should arrive in how you tell your tale (and the contents within). It's a charming part of a charming town, a famous fabricator of fantastical tales is one of the towering town figures from local lore. Celebrate the man, Borrego Springs, that pile of rocks, and wherever that gold may or may not be to this day at a fun/funny annual hoopla.

    OH, AND ABOUT THOSE TEN ROCKS: You're invited to toss them into the existing pile, any day of the year, if you fib and say you haven't come to find Peg Leg's lost gold. And, really, aren't we all there to keep an eye out for the shiny stuff? Another quaint addition to a long-held yarn.