Monday, September 12, 2011


With the weather clear and warm, Grandma, Chester, The Inmates, and I decided to venture to Williamsburg, Ohio, about 30 miles east of downtown Cincinnati, for their Old West Festival.  Tucked away on a narrow road on dozens of acres of undeveloped land sits a Dodge City replica, complete with boardwalk, saloon, shops, and hitching posts.  There are regularly scheduled gunfight reenactments in the street, as well as a variety of shows throughout the complex including a medicine show, cowboy poetry, puppet show, and sing-along.  Standard county fair-type food is available like hot dogs, steakburgers, and rattlesnake chili.  What we had was reasonably priced at $2 for a hot dog, the same for a bottle of water, and $1.50 for a small Pepi.

Both Inmates enjoyed a horse ride, particularly The Professor who long ago grew too tall for the pony rides and has missed the contact with horseflesh.  (We have a history with horses in my family, which you can read about at Uncle Chester's blog here.)  Horse rides were $5 per kid and included two loops around the track.

The Professor also tried his hand at the bow and arrows for $2.  I had warned him it was harder than it looked, particularly with a bow that was half his height.  The guy running the booth was very patient with him, though, and took the time to show him over and over how to hold it without dropping the arrow.  While his aim was off, The Professor finally managed to shoot his three arrows at least toward the target, if not actually hitting it.

About a dozen vendors were scattered around selling everything from boots and handmade jewelry to animal pelts and genuine claws.  (I have a serious aversion to fur not still attached to a live animal, so I made a quick exit from that particular tent.)  One store sold your old time "cowboys and Indians" props.  The Professor emerged with a Derringer cap pistol (which he used to shoot things all the way home, despite our repeated warnings not to, including the produce of a farmer's market stand).  Foghorn chose a stunning headdress with pink faux fur and pink and white feathers.  Chester said she looked like she should be on Fire Island.

What The Warden had most been looking forward to was sending her children to jail.  For $5 the Sheriff would arrest the person of your choice, toss her in jail, and send you home with a keepsake warrant.  The Professor's eyes lit up at the thought of locking his little sister in there (not realizing I had intended to have them both incarcerated).  Foghorn played it off like I was joking when I said I'd have her arrested, but I could see fear in her eyes.  Despite her booming voice and over-the-top personality, she's actually rather timid around strangers, especially men, and I could just seeing her going into a hysterical crying fit when she landed in the pokey.

There are bathroom facilities on the premises, but I'll give you fair warning that you might want to do what you can to avoid them.  Foghorn never makes it more than two hours without a bathroom stop and I thought it might not be too bad, given that the toilets were located in a long trailer and had several stalls to accommodate multiple people at once.  I knew I was in trouble when a girl in 1800s garb stepped out, exhaled deeply, and said, "I won't be drinking any more water today."  It was pretty bad and when I related the story everyone else vowed to hold it and run in the first McDonald's we passed on the way home.

The Old West Festival runs Saturdays and Sundays, now through October 9th, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for children, with free parking.  We had a couple coupons clipped from Reach Magazine, which got the kids in free.  I have to say I would not have wanted to pay full price for all of us.  If you're interested in going, I highly recommend checking Reach Magazine or (the latter requires registration in order to print the coupons).  Donato's also has a deal going to benefit the charity A Kid Again.  At any Cincinnati Donato's location you can purchase a booklet for $1 that contains four free children's admissions with one adult paid admission, plus one free individual one-topping pizza coupon.

Information, including directions, can be found at the Old West Festival's site here.  Be forewarned that both parking and Dodge City are on unpaved ground.  The soaking rains of last week had dried up just enough to make walking around bearable, but if you're going right after a recent downpour be sure to wear old shoes or boots and prepare for swampy, muddy conditions.

You might also be interested in:

* The Loveland Bike Trail.

* Meet the Inmates -- The Professor.

Meet the Inmates -- Foghorn.



Nancy Susanna Breen said...

The Hooligans on horses makes a really pretty picture. They look as if they could really be out west somewhere.

lillianscupboard said...

It was an interesting place to go and just being so far out in the country made it worthwhile to me.