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It was a year ago March 3 when a breakfast meeting was held at a local restaurant where a new and exciting idea was formed to bring something new and exciting to our community. Something which hasn't taken place in California in 40 years. That meeting was attended by two members of the Los Baños Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, a member of the chamber and three members of the Sundowners Cowboy Fast Draw Club, two from San Jose and one from Los Baños.
This first of its kind event simply started out as the California State Cowboy Fast Draw Championship. It was originally planned to coincide with a proposed barbecue competition that was being planned. Well, as sometimes things do, it progressed and began to grow.
Soon two new local Gunslinger clubs were formed. The Golden State Gunslingers and The Central Valley Posse, each with different affiliations, both having members belonging to CFDA, which allows those members to compete in CFDA sanctioned events.
As the planning of this event continued it became apparent that this was going to take the better part of three days to get through the competition. With that in mind, a small group of hard working individuals, gunfighters and chamber members alike, started and executed the planning of this huge undertaking, which by this time was going to be the finale of our city's big centennial celebration.
We decided to take the core of the event and build everything else around it. It was decided that focusing on our city's cultural diversity was the key. After all, we are a community of so many different cultures made up from the folks who originally settled here from parts all over the globe. Our time frame was from 1863 to 1900 when this was a bustling cow town. Word got out we had vendors of Old West merchandise and food vendors galore scampering to be a part of this great event.
We actually had to turn some vendors down. We had musical entertainment, cowboy poets and trick ropers. The Buffalo Soldier museum was here all the way from back east. There was so much going on it's too much to list. We attempted to have every culture represented here showcasing their contribution to this fantastic area in which we live.
The event which took place on Oct. 12 -14 was a huge success in it's accomplishments.
You now know it by the name Henry Miller Wild West Weekend. And yes, we are doing it again. So watch for several promotions about the Henry Miller Wild West Weekend and your chance to try Gunslinging for yourself. The Golden State Gunslingers will have an area set up known as Gunslinger Alley at the Chamber's April Downtown Street Faire on April 12.
They will also planning a five day pro am competition at the Merced County Spring Fair April 30- May 4. And on the Fourth of July the Gunslinger alley returns again to the fairgrounds as part of the Chambers big Fourth of July celebration. And this year at the California State Championship, the Golden State Gunslingers will be hosting the Lefty Manzanedo Memorial shootout, which pairs pro with pro or amateur with amateur or one of each.
They will also be hosting the Shootist competition where contestants use a 7 and a half barreled 45 Long Colt Single Action Revolver on the last day of the event. With 100 or more gunfighters coming from all over the country plus our local gunfighters, even more, now that a third gunslinger group, The California Outlaws, has formed in the last few weeks.
The Los Baños Chamber of Commerce is proud to bring this event to our city on Oct. 10-12 and to be a part of sharing our multi-cultural heritage with you.
John Whala is the co-chair of the Chamber of Commerce's Wild West Weekend Committee.