Grab your six-shooter and cowboy hat and head to southwest Ohio for a taste of the Wild West. The Hillsboro suburb of Cincinnati is the home of the Old West Festival. The inaugural year of the weeklong event drew large crowds, and many smiles. After stepping though the admission gate, visitors definitely feel as if they are walking around on a John Wayne movie set.
The building of the Old West Festival “town” allows period presenters to have some rip-roaring’ fun, while stepping back in time. Historical re-enactments galore keep visitors entertained while spending a day at the Old West Festival. Dime novel heroes such as Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, and Wyatt Earp come to life, deal a little Faro, and “shoot” up the street during the event.
The Old West Festival buildings depict “Dodge City” in an amazingly historically accurate manner. Period interpreters fill each building, and walk around the “town” greeting visitors. Youngsters visiting the festival are sworn in as deputies, and are given a ceremonial badge.
Shopping at the Old West Festival is quite a treat for the senses. Old-fashioned Sarsaparilla and candy sticks can be purchased from several stores in the town. Souvenir tin cups, shot glasses and t-shirts are also available. The Long Branch Saloon features cold beer, and pretty dancing girls. The saloon stage is busy throughout the day with period music and performances.
Shooting demonstrations and an outdoor re-enactment of famous shoot-outs are popular attraction at the Old West Festival. A detailed history of Dodge City is both entertaining and enlightening. Visitors learn about the bustling1875 ere of the town. The history of buffalo hunting, cattle drives, and the establishment of law comes to life courtesy of the period actors.
Performers for the Old West Festival have included: Kentucky Myle, Bobby Mackey, Dan Varner, Dakota, Paul Otten Band, Rumple Mountain Boys, Comet Bluegrass All-Stars, Pam Kelly, Gun Powder Creek, Civil War Revue, and the Rabbit Hash Band, just to name a few.
Old-fashioned Wild West food grub is also a highlight of the Old West Festival. The tasty nuggets, which are served fresh from the grill during the event, include Long Branch pork sandwiches, Longhorn Steak sandwiches, Turkey Legs, Bat’s brisket, Trail Fruit candy apples, Indian Fry bread, and range chicken sandwiches.
Scores of 19th century inspired crafts and gift items are readily available while strolling through the Old West Festival. Leather gun holsters, dulcimers, hand knitted items, moccasins, chaps, chinks, vintage western clothing, wood-burned signs, pioneer dolls, walking sticks, western art, and many more.
Along with all of the other various forms of entertainment and exhibits, a host of kid friendly activities is also a part of the festival. Children can ride ponies, a miniature train, and have photos taken upon a huge calico steer.
Prices vary for student days, senior citizens, and the time of visit. Additional Old West Festival information can be found by visiting www.oldwestfestival.com