My Brother-In-Law's Shindig
Well, we made it to California in time for my brother-in-law's shindig in the canyon. It was held on one of the neighboring ranches. The theme was "spaghetti western" and it featured a spaghetti dinner, a chili cook-off, several bands, movies (spaghetti western, of course) in the barn, and other entertainment.
This being Los Angeles, he asked his friends if he could borrow some old movie props. They lent him a truckload! They even tossed in a professional portable stage for the bands! He decorated the barn area with these props to really give the event a Western feel.
There were characters galore. Most of them were residents of the canyon who came in their Western duds, complete with antique sidearms, mostly Colts. A few were hired for the occasion, paid with free admission, free food and a few bucks. One of the hired characters called himself "Jack Ash" and played the part of an old-time "snake oil" salesman, complete with a sample case that doubled as a table. His sales patter was very funny, but was a perfect match for similar characters from the television Western of the 1950's and 1960's. There was a woman in an old-style Western dress, very similar to Miss Kitty from Gun Smoke.
There was one character that had me puzzled. She called herself Wicked Wanda and was dressed as a late 1800's rancher, complete with Colt 45 six-gun. We talked for about half an hour, but I could not figure out whether she is a denizen of the canyon, from somewhere nearby or was one of the hired characters. Of course, I was not gauche enough to ask! She was knowlegible about horse ranching and had the look of the genuine article. I really like her! Maybe our paths will cross again - my brother-in-law is planning to do it again next year.
As to the food - the spaghetti and such was provided by one of the local Italian restaurants. Suffice it to say, I hope he picks a different restaurant next year! The chili cook-off worked very well> They had about a dozen contestants and the crowd got to vote on which tasted best. They also had someone manning a grill and they sold bar-be-que chicken. They also may have sold other meats, but we got there a little late and chicken was all that was left. Deserts were also on sale, including cookies, cupcakes, and so forth.
The band we saw was great. As part of their act, the presented their own "fractured" version of some classic songs. They played a lot of Western swing and more than a few couples got up and danced. The local Arthur Murray Dance Studio got into the act with several of their instructors giving free dance lessons. Thank you, Wendy, for making me look good on the dance floor!
One of the highlights was a demonstration by the Valley Vaulters. This is a horsemanship and riding group that works with "special needs" children, along with normal children. They put on quite a show!
All in all, a good time was had by all. Cudos to my brother-in-law!!