Yippee Ki Yay: Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival

Pay tribute to cowboy culture in all of its beauty and grit.

By Alysia Gray Painter
|  Thursday, Apr 18, 2013  |  Updated 10:04 PM PDT
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Yippee Ki Yay: Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival

Ryan Drake

The Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival honors Western heritage from April 18 through April 21 at Melody Ranch.

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Here's a pretty easy riddle which may not be a riddle at all but just a tricky question: What's very old but always new?

Blandly worded, yes, but we mean to be a little devious because a lot of locals will get this one. We're talking about a historic movie studio, a place that quite literally take on a new look or different character every few days.

Melody Ranch fits that bill. It's playing host once again to the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, as it does each year, from Thursday, April 18 through Sunday, April 21.

But some people might assume that the property, so closely tied to one-time owner Gene Autry, is something of a museum piece. It isn't; "Django Unchained" recently filmed there, and the ranch keeps an impressively full calendar.

Movie-making is not the name-of-the-game at the Cowboy Festival, though. The multi-day gather is, however, one of the premiere rootin' and tootin' to-dos in all the west. It should be; it marks two decades in 2013, and regularly attracts top musicians and storytellers. Cowpokey gear and made-for-the-range goods are also features of the long weekend, as are grits (or food, if you prefer). And the love of Western heritage, from art to myth to history to film? That's at the heart of everything.

Even attendees chap it up and don a ten gallon, so count on the proceedings to truly bear an authentic homespun, campfire-ready feel.

Happy 20th, Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival. We're grabbin' our old six-string and writing a song about the stars over the mountain right now, in your honor.

And Melody Ranch? We'll see you at the movies before long, we're very sure.

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