By Mayor Laurene Weste When people think of Southern California they picture movie stars and the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown. However, our Santa Clarita Valley is steeped in another kind of movie history – westerns. Santa Clarita is home to one of the world’s best cowboy festivals—the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival! On Saturday, residents and visitors will travel from near and far to Old Town Newhall for the 25th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, presented by Heritage Sierra Medical Group. This year’s festival will once again transform William S. Hart Park into a western frontier on Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, April 22, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, general admission to Hart Park this year is FREE – so bring your family and friends! Whether you’re a seasoned festival goer, or it’s your first time, the Cowboy Festival offers a good ol’ fashioned time for everyone. With western music, activities and performances – this festival shows guests the cowboy way of life. As you walk through the gates of Hart Park, you’ll find yourself immersed in cowboy culture. You’ll be greeted by a fiddle player, or maybe a trick roper creating a figure eight with his rope. Your nose will pick up on the delicious scent of peach cobbler and barbecue wafting in the air. Your feet will start tapping as your ears pick up on the lovely sounds of live western music playing from a nearby stage. This year’s festival will offer live, free performances of Bluegrass, Folk, Western, Cowboy Poetry and Americana music on five performance areas: Hart Hall, Mane Stage, Heritage Junction Stage, Ranch House Stage and Outwest Stage. For information on who’s performing this year, please visit the Cowboy Festival website at CowboyFestival.org. Get the full cowboy experience and try your hand at hatchet throwing or archery. The younglings will especially enjoy panning for gold and the western-themed inflatable play attractions. Feeling courageous? Try to conquer the mechanical bull. Not impressed by the mechanical bull? Take a shuttle or a short hike to visit the American Bison area located by the historic Hart Mansion. These bison were a gift from Walt Disney nearly 50 years ago! The barnyard area by Hart Hall also offers your chance to get a closer look at animals such as alpacas, turkeys, bunnies, chickens, tortoises, potbelly pigs, geese and ducks! Festival entertainment goes beyond musical talent to include gun spinners, trick ropers and multicultural entertainment. See history come alive by visiting the Cowboy Cattle Camp, Native American Lodge, Blacksmith and chuck-wagons. I highly recommend setting aside some time to watch the Civil War reenactment. If you want to take home a nice souvenir, Mercantile Row offers over 40 vendors featuring affordable, authentic western styles, including one-of-a-kind accessories, fine crafted by vendors from across the country. Enjoy delicious grub from 10 specialty food providers at the festival, including the mouthwatering cowboy peach cobbler, barbecue and other western fare! In addition, you’ll be able to explore the historic Hart Mansion, a beautiful Spanish Revival style mansion formerly owned by famed silent film actor William S. Hart, and Heritage Junction, which features the Saugus Train Station Museum. Kick off Cowboy Festival Friday night with a fabulous experience listening to Jon Chandler, who the Los Angeles Daily News has dubbed the “best western songsmith since Ian Tyson.” Ernie Martinez will also appear with Jon Chandler in the famous Hart Mansion. More western star entertainment includes Dave Stamey, R.W. Hampton, Lon Hannah & San Joaquin Junction and Honey County to name just a few. Check out the complete line up on CowboyFestival.org. At 8 p.m. on Saturday night in Hart Hall, a special 25th Anniversary Gala will be held to honor the history of the Cowboy Festival and celebrate performers and past Walk of Western Stars inductees. This is the only time you will be able to see the greatest country western performers all in one room; meeting them, hearing them and sharing the joy of 25 years of western celebration. There will never be another time that you can meet with the greatest stars of western entertainment. Tickets are still available for purchase online. To learn more about the Cowboy Festival and to purchase tickets, please visit CowboyFestival.org or call 661-250-3735. I hope you’ll join us for this one-of-a-kind event and celebrate Santa Clarita’s rich heritage! Mayor Laurene Weste is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.