Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Hopalong Cassidy Festival’

Hopalong Cassidy Festival in Cambridge Comes to an End

Vendors from all over the United States displayed their western wares.

Vendors from all over the United States displayed their western wares.

Hoppy and his horse greeted visitors to the 25th Hopalong Cassidy Festival.

Hoppy and his horse greeted visitors to the 25th Hopalong Cassidy Festival.

“Have a Hoppy Day!”

Old friends and familiar faces congregated May 1-3, 2015  to honor the last Hopalong Cassidy Festival. Started in 1991, this year marked the 25th Anniversary and the final year for the festival. But the enthusiasm did not end even though participants knew the end was in sight.

William “Hopalong Cassidy” Boyd grew up in the Cambridge area where he attended Park School and the Second Presbyterian Church. The Silver Anniversary of the festival celebration took place at Pritchard Laughlin Civic Center near Cambridge, Ohio.

This little cowgirl enjoyed the day.

This little cowgirl enjoyed the day.

Laura Bates, founder, has been the driving force of the Hopalong Cassidy Festival all 25 years. Laura became good friends with Grace, Hoppy’s wife, and Laura’s knowledge and collection of Hoppy memorabilia grew and grew. When Laura speaks of those dedicated followers who attended year after year, she fondly calls them “faithful buckaroos”.

Getting a festival together requires lots of hard work. Making the connections with nearly a hundred vendors in itself would take a lot of time. Add to that the necessity to connect with old western stars and you can see how overwhelming the task would be. Besides, the general public today does not have the intense interest about those old westerns as those who grew up watching them.

Look-a-likes John Wayne, enjoy visiting with the crowd.

Look-a-likes John Wayne, Lash LaRue, and Bob Steele enjoy visiting with the crowd.

Old friends, who dressed as look-a-likes, enjoyed posing together. John Wayne, Lash LaRue, and Bob Steele definitely looked their part. Most people were selling pictures, but some were giving them away. Vendors set up tables selling all kinds of Western and cowboy items.

LaRue and his wife got married in the same church where Hoppy used to attend in Cambridge.

Francis Reeves and his wife got married in the same church Hoppy attended in Cambridge.

Most participants come across as common ordinary folks, who enjoyed talking about their life and connection to Hopalong Cassidy. One interesting gentleman, Francis Reeves, had won six Hoppy look-alike contests over the years. His initial contact came through Fred Scott, who sent a card to him telling him about the festival.

Twenty years ago Francis married his wife in Cambridge at the Second Presbyterian Church, the same church Hoppy attended. At 85 years old, Francis is still muscle bound and full of energy. When asked about the end of the festival, Francis remarked, “Everything comes to an end.” He looks forward to better things ahead.

Scruffy and Laura Bates give a final farewell.

Fuzzy and Laura Bates, founder, give a final farewell.

25th Anniversary tee shirt designed to honor Laura Bates.

25th Anniversary tee shirt designed to honor Laura Bates.

Fuzzy of American Westerns designed the logo for the festival. This year he designed a special tee shirt for the 25th anniversary. He included a picture of Laura Bates on that tee, as a special surprise to her. But like many, Fuzzy travels around the country with his acts and displays, covering seventeen different states.

Hoppy plans for the future include a bronze statue of Hopalong Cassidy in Cambridge, Ohio. The Hopalong Cassidy Museum will still contain Laura’s collection and she will probably stop by and charm visitors with her stories.

Everyone remained in good spirits even when the festival came to a close. One cowgirl said she would continue at other festivals in this part of the country.”I’ve been horsing around all my life,” she quipped, “and not ready to stop.”

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Rootin’ Tootin’ Western Fun Hopalong Cassidy Festival

Pritchard Laughlin Civic CenterMore fun than a pig in mud !  That description summed up the feeling of those participating in the 23rd Annual Hopalong Cassidy Festival held at Pritchard-Laughlin Civic Center during the first weekend of May near Cambridge, Ohio. Everyone there seemed to be having fun in this beautiful springtime setting!

From the moment of arrival, you were greeted outside the center with some good old-fashioned BBQ by Smokin’ C BBQ from nearby Old Washington. This provided a break from the action anytime hunger appeared during the day. Their pulled pork sandwiches and BBQ baked potatoes are always favorites.

Festival LobbyInside was where the legend of Hopalong Cassidy was being kept alive. The lobby contained Western actors from days gone by. They autographed pictures, posed with fans, and answered questions in a friendly manner.

The large banquet room had hundreds of items for sale from days of Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Daniel Boone and other favorite Western stars. Fans and dealers from all over the nation come to explore over one hundred tables of collectibles to see if they can find a treasure.

Panel of Stars

Julie Ream narrated a Panel of Stars including: Darby Hinton, Johnny Crawford, and Don Quine.

Cowboys from the past seemed to be one of the main drawing cards.  Meet the Stars drew a large crowd in the Bar 20 Annex.  These stars were all from California, but enjoying the small town greeting. Western history expert Julie Ream, who remembered the days of attending Charm School, informed the audience that her cousin, Cactus Mack McPeters was the first to make a Western with Republic Pictures, while her Uncle Rex Allen, The Arizona Cowboy, made the last Western for them.

Representing The Virginia was Don Quine, who played the role of the grandson, Stacey. Today he spends his free time writing a book, but he would not give any inside information as to what that book was about. Perhaps it is his memoirs.

An actual descendant of Daniel Boone, Darby Hinton accidentally fell into a role in the Daniel Boone TV series when his mother, running late as usual, dropped him off in front of the studio while she went to park the car. Here he was to try out for the part of a von Trapp lad in Sound of Music. So when Darby went inside, he fell right in line with the rest of the youngsters. He charmed those interviewing and got the part easily. However, when his mother arrived, she discovered he had gone to the wrong floor and instead of interviewing for Sound of Music, had accepted a role in Daniel Boone as his son. Today he is working on a PBS documentary of the life and times of the real Daniel Boone.

A sense of humor seemed to be the strong point for Johnny Crawford, who appeared on Rifleman for five years in the role of a son. When asked what he did when he became an adult, Johnny said, “I never grew up.” Music seemed to be his avocation these days and he sang Sweet Sue to the group…well, as much of it as remembered. Johnny said he could do the beginning of most songs.

Look Alike ContestAnother highlight was the Look-Alike Contests for young and old alike, which was judged by audience clapping. Youngsters dressed in Western gear competed for trophies, but just being there was the most fun for all of them.

In the adult division, Johnny Crawford served as moderator and put the competitors through their paces. While he sang, he had them perform in various ways such as dancing, cracking the whip, doing tricks with their guns, and testing their beards to see if they were real.  Gabby Hayes quipped, “My teeth aren’t real, but my beard is.”

Johnny noted, “Being a cowboy is a hard life.”

To which Gabby responded, “Durn tootin’.”

The Roy Rogers Look-Alike was a real estate broker, who wore his Roy Rogers hat to work every day. His rendition of Happy Trails to You brought a round of applause.

However, John Wayne’s Look-Alike was the overall winner of the contest. This big, strong fellow looked and sounded like The Duke. His dance steps were even quite smooth for a cowboy of his size.

Laura Bates, founder and chairmanLaura Bates, the founder of the Hopalong Cassidy Festival, paid tribute to Grace Boyd, Hopalong’s wife. Laura and Grace had become good friends over the years with Laura visiting their California home on the Pacific Ocean frequently. Laura dressed in a shirt of Hoppy’s that Grace had given her, and had the table covered in a scarf from their home. While the festival was to honor hometown cowboy hero, Hopalong Cassidy, his wife actually was a guest there for several years and became a real favorite of those attending. Grace went to the corral where cowboys and their families go after they leave this old world at the age of 97.

Many of the attendees come year after year to the Festival. One couple from Jacksonville FL said they had been there for 17 years. Seeing old friends, who are fans of Hoppy, is one of the best reasons for coming back year after year. See y’all next year!

The Hopalong Cassidy Festival is held annually at Pritchard Laughlin Civic Center near Cambridge Ohio.  It is easily reached from I-70 at Exit  176. Turn right coming off the exit onto Glenn Highway Road, and in about half a mile the civic center is on the left side of the road.

Hopalong Cassidy Museum Where the Wild West Lives Again

Hopalong Cassidy Hopalong Cassidy, “Pride of the West”, is also “Pride of Cambridge, Ohio”,  the boyhood home to Hopalong Cassidy and the Hopalong Cassidy Museum. William Boyd, aka Hopalong Cassidy, was born close by in Hendrysburg, Ohio in Belmont County back in 1895. While he only resided in Cambridge twelve years, they are still proud to call him a home-town boy. The family moved West at that time to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and at about the age of 20, William ended up in California where his good looks and winning manner were noticed by the film industry.

None other than Cecil B DeMille, who became a long time friend, took William Boyd under his wing, and got him his first acting contract at $25 a week back in 1918 as leading man in the silent film industry. When the role of fictional cowboy, Hopalong Cassidy, came up, director Harry Sherman felt William Boyd was a natural. In his black cowboy hat riding Topper, his white horse, Boyd soon became a national hero known for his gallantry and fair play. After 66 movies portraying Hopalong Cassidy, William Boyd became better known as Hoppy to his friends.

The story of his nickname began with Cassidy getting shot in the leg during a gun fight. When recovering from his gun wound, someone asked how he was feeling, to which he replied, “I’ll manage to hop along.”  Thus the name Hop-along Cassidy. After its success at the movie theaters, it was decided to have a Hopalong Cassidy TV series…also a big success. In 1950, Hopalong Cassidy became the first network Western television series.

Laura Bates and Hopalong CassidyForty years later, in the town of Cambridge, Ohio, Laura Bates was host of a show called “Talk of the Town” on their local television station. One particular day she was interviewing someone from New York doing research at the local library regarding Hopalong Cassidy. They commented, “It’s a shame no one in Cambridge ever did anything about Hopalong Cassidy, since he grew up here.”

Laura said, “That was like a slap in the face from the Big Apple.” After that, she began pursuing the idea and in 1990 it was decided to use Hopalong Cassidy for the theme of their Spring Festival.  Today, that Hopalong Cassidy Festival still is enjoyed by people from all over the world and is now held annually in May at the Pritchard-Laughlin Civic Center just outside the city.

Many movie stars attend the Festival to pay homage to Hoppy, one of those great cowboy legends. Hugh O’Brien from Wyatt Earp has attended as well as several stars of Gunsmoke: Bo Hopkins, Ben Costello, and Becky Burgoyne. Even William Boyd’s wife, Grace, has been in attendance.  Fans are still eager to catch a glimpse of these celebrities and perhaps obtain their autographs.

Hopalong Cassidy MuseumToday there is a museum in Cambridge, Ohio which houses a giant assortment of cowboy collectibles. Located at Scott’s 10th St. Antique Mall, this is a hot spot during the annual Hopalong Cassidy Festival. Three rooms are packed with Hoppy memorabilia, all part of a personal collection owned by Laura Bates, local Hoppy organizer and enthusiast. Here fans have purchased an old tin lunch bucket and thermos for the price of $395.00 or an Easter card signed by Hoppy for $195.00. There are many memorabilia available…for the right price.

Hoppy TalkIn his hey-day, Hoppy received around 15,000 fan mail letters a week. Today there is still a meeting of the Hoppy  Fan Club during the annual Hopalong Cassidy Festival in Cambridge, Ohio.  Laura Bates is president of the fan club, which was formed back in 1991 and publishes quarterly a newsletter, “Hoppy Talk”, which is distributed to members of Friends of Hoppy. Membership was around 500 in the beginning, but has dropped to about 300 members today as younger adults have little memory of those great cowboy heroes. “Hoppy Talk” is celebrating its 24th year of publication in 2013.

William Boyd and Hopalong Cassidy are synonymous…Hopalong Cassidy, his alter ego. When he finally retired, he turned over his entire crew and cast to a new Western just coming on the scene…Gunsmoke. Boyd didn’t sing, dance, play sports, or race cars, he was simply Hopalong Cassidy.  He smiled, waved and shook hands.  He was everybody’s Mr. Good Guy and his favorite drink was a nonalcoholic sarsaparilla!

The Hopalong Cassidy Museum is located in the South Tenth Street Antique Mall in downtown Cambridge. There is easy access as Cambridge is at the intersection of I-70 and I-77. Wheeling Avenue is their main street and the museum is just a half block south of Wheeling Avenue on 10th Street.

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