The crowd applauds as Bo Hopkins' star is unveiled on the Walk of Western Stars in Newhall in 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

Laurene Weste: Bask in local history at 26th annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival

Over the last century and a half, residents in Santa Clarita have built a thriving community rooted in our proud western heritage. The same spirit that fueled the first settlers in the Santa Clarita Valley is alive and well today, with a drive to preserve wildlife corridors, acquire protected open space and provide access to beautiful trails for all who live and visit our wonderful city. Each April, we also put our cowboy culture on full display to honor our rich western history at the annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival. This year’s Cowboy Festival, presented by California Resources Corporation, will take place at William S. Hart Park in Old Town Newhall on April 13 and 14.

As someone passionate about the local history of Santa Clarita, I am thrilled to share with you the various opportunities that you and your children will have to immerse yourself in the world that built the foundation for the city we know and love today.

Inductees to be unveiled

Prior to the main festival, the city of Santa Clarita will unveil the three newest inductees into the Walk of Western Stars on Thursday, April 11. Beginning at 5 p.m. on Main Street in Old Town Newhall, the Santa Clarita City Council will have the pleasure of honoring James Drury, Robert Fuller and Dan White with bronze stars and terrazzo tiles. You are invited to attend this free unveiling, and explore the entire Walk of Western Stars, where your boots will clack along the brick-lined walkway as you read the names of Steve McQueen, Jack Lilley, Gene Autry and more.

Following the unveiling, an official induction ceremony will be held in Hart Hall at William S. Hart Park at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $60 each, which includes dinner and a brief question-and-answer session featuring the three honorees, or their representative.

When the Cowboy Festival opens its gates on Saturday, April 13, you will be transported to the Old West, with an opportunity to learn how the early settlers of our valley lived. Take a tram ride or hike the trails to Hart Mansion, former home of the first cowboy movie star, William S. Hart, and discover an impressive collection of Western artwork, early Hollywood mementos, artifacts from Native American culture and Mr. Hart’s personal effects.

Following your tour of the Hart Mansion, you will want to take a short stroll to Heritage Junction, home of the Saugus Train Station. Little ones will enjoy seeing the locomotive and learning about the history of the train station, which first opened its doors to travelers in 1887. Since then, famous passengers who’ve passed through the station include Presidents Benjamin Harrison (in 1891) and Theodore Roosevelt (in 1903).

The Saugus Train Station once stood further north on Railroad Avenue, across the tracks from the Saugus Cafe. Thanks to the effort of the community, the depot was saved and moved to its current location in Hart Park. Other buildings that have been preserved and relocated to Heritage Junction include the Mitchell Schoolhouse Adobe, which is the second oldest school in Los Angeles County, and the Ramona Chapel.

Thank yous

I want to send a special “Thank You” to both the Friends of Hart Park and the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, two organizations (which I am proud to be a member of) that have been instrumental in preserving our local history. The dedicated members of both organizations volunteer their time and will be at the Cowboy Festival leading tours and sharing history with each and every guest they meet.

Admission to William S. Hart Park on April 13 and 14 will once again be FREE for all Cowboy Festival attendees. For those who want to explore more of our community’s rich western heritage, they can embark on special tours to destinations such as the Veluzat Ranch tour featuring the Melody Ranch back lot, and Rancho Camulos Museum.

To learn more about the 26th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, and to purchase tickets for the Walk of Western Stars Induction Ceremony and other special events, please visit CowboyFestival.org or call 661-250-3735.

I look forward to seeing you and your family at William S. Hart Park for this one-of-a-kind event steeped in local history!

Laurene Weste is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected]

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