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Celebrate Western heritage

FAIRPLAY -Before cartoon characters killed Kenny in South Park, cowboys moseyed among the tall pines of the region.This weekend, The American Safari Ranch hosts a celebration of all that is cowboy with The American West Celebration. The hand-clapping, toe-tapping music begins at 5:15 p.m. today and continues until 5:30 p.m. Sunday.”It’s a celebration of the Western heritage,” said Vince Chavez, producer with American West Adventures, which sponsors the event. “The idea behind it is to bring people together for good, family fun.”Close to 20 vendors offer both Western and non-Western art, jewelry and clothing, while country and Native American musicians perform throughout the weekend.Native American flutist Mary Youngblood, Grammy winner for Flutist of the Year, performs from 5:15-5:45 p.m. today and at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.Walker Williams, Colorado’s country music star from Centennial, headlines the celebration at 6 p.m. today, 7 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.Williams’ band, which plays mostly top-40 hits, pulled off the road in May after touring for 10 years and releasing “Walker Williams, Just Like That” in 1995. Now, he’s focusing on playing locally, including gigs at the Grizzly Rose in Denver, the State Fair and the Taste of Colorado, and starting a new CD in January, he said.”We strive to perform material like it was recorded,” he said. “We tend to sound like the artists themselves. It definitely appeals to the dancers because the tempos are right there, like the record, and that’s what they’re used to hearing.”Singer and songwriter Bill Miller performs music influenced by his Mohican heritage at 1 p.m. Saturday. The oldest of nine children, Miller grew up on a reservation in northern Wisconsin, began playing guitar at age 12 and learned Native American flute 19 years ago. He has been influenced by Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Elvis, Johnny Cash, the Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, as well as pow wow drummers, and has toured with Pearl Jam and Tori Amos.”My music has no boundaries or borders,” Miller said. “It’s just heart-felt. I play a lot of inspirational music. It’s spirit-led and sends messages of hope. It’s emotional. It’s intense. It’s Americana. My inspiration comes from the high places and the low. I write from the street and from nature. I see the creator within the creator. I’m not a New Ager. I’m down-to-earth. I appreciated this land – I just love it, and I write from there.”Michael Hearne and South by SouthWest perform at 2:15 p.m. Sunday, playing award-winning swing and Western music.In addition to music and vendors, such cowboy-cinema celebrities as Peter Brown, Bruce Boxleitner, Marty Kove, Alex Cord and Mike Moroff will join riders on trails, chat with guests and participate in team-roping steers.Brown grew up visiting studios in New York with his mother, who was an actress. He learned to ride horses, track and hunt when his family moved to Slim Pickins’ ranch in Northern California.”That’s where I fell in love with that life,” Brown said.His big break came when Jack Warner paid for gas with a credit card. Brown was working at the station and asked the customer if he was “the” Warner, of Warner Bros. When the man answered affirmatively, Brown talked about his acting background, which began at age 5. The next day, the head of new talent at Warner Bros. called him for a screen test.He signed a seven-year deal and played Dep. Johnny McKay in “Lawman,” among other roles. Then he moved to Universal Studios, playing Texas Ranger Chad Cooper in “Laredo.” His movie credits include “Cheyenne,” “Wagon Train” and “Colt 45.”Actor, singer and artist Moroff has starred in “La Bamba,” “Robocop,” “Tall Tale,” “Desperado” and as Pancho Villa in the “Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.”Boxleitner, author of “Frontier Earth,” has played in “I Married Wyatt Earp,” “Return to Tombstone,” “How the West Was Won,” “Gunsmoke,” and “Scarecrow and Mrs. King.”Kove is best known for his roles as John Kreese in “Karate Kid” and Det. Victor Isbecki in the “Cagney and Lacey” television series.Alex Cord is best known as Ringo in “Stagecoach.” He also appeared in “The Dirty Dozen” and in the television hit series “AirWolf.”The National Barrel Horse Association also will be on hand to explain barrel patterns, and riders, ages 9 to 60, will demonstrate. The association holds 18 races a year, where riders may win money and earn points. The association has 15 members in Summit County and 47 members total, from Del Norte to Steamboat Springs.Trail rides are $75 for one day or $125 for three days, including a campsite. The American Safari Ranch is 6 miles north of Fairplay on County Road 7. The ranch offers Western lodging with two-bedroom private log cabins and hearty feasts. For ticket information, call (719) 836-2700. For reservations at the American Safari Ranch, call (719) 395-3391.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.—When & Where? When: Oct. 4-6? Where: American Safari Ranch, Fairplay


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