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Burger’s homage to cowboys and campy summer camp

by Mark Burger

Asmuch as I love movies, I have to admit that it took me awhile until Iliked Westerns. Once I did, however, I took to westerns like a horse towater. In many ways, it is the quintessential American genre. There’shardly a day that goes by that I don’t think about filmmaker SamPeckinpah — a reflection, perhaps, less on the western films in whichhe specialized than the mindset he frequently found himself in. (I candig it.) For fans of westerns, something very special is coming to townthis week.

Thisyear’s Western Film Fair is coming home to roost in Winston-Salem. Theevent opens Wednesday at the Clarion Sundance Plaza Hotel (3050University Parkway). This marks the 31 st event, and willinclude daily screenings of more than 80 16mm Western films and TVshows in different screening rooms, as well as a dealers’ memorabiliaemporium with approximately 100 tables of various western goodies,daily autograph sessions and panel discussions with the guest stars, anawards banquet, live entertainment each night and a specialpresentation of the Ernest Tubb Memorial Award, so named for thelegendary pioneer of county-and-western music whose nickname was the “Texas Troubadour.” Special guests at this year’s Western Film Fair will include Betty Lynn (from the original Cheaper by the Dozen), bestknown for her regular role as Barney’s girlfriend Thelma Lou on “TheAndy Griffith Show”; character actor Henry Darrow (The Hitcher, The Last of the Finest, Badge 373), aveteran of many TV westerns including regular stints on “The HighChaparral” and numerous appearances as Zorro, including providing thevoice on a Saturday-morning cartoon; actor Geoffrey Lewis (father ofJuliette), whose many film and TV appearances include High Plains Drifter and Dillinger (both 1973), Night of the Comet (1984)and a memorable turn as the unfortunate small-town gravedigger MikeRyerson in Tobe Hooper’s original 1980 version of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot; and James Best, fondly remembered as the pathologically inept Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Finally, there will be LQ Jones, a veteran of several Sam Peckinpah films (The Wild Bunch, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid), who also went toe-to-toe with Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s Casino (1995), had a lovely role in Robert Altman’s final film A Prairie Home Companion (2006) and wrote, produced and directed the 1975 sci-fi cult Western, A Boy and His Dog, based on Harlan Ellison’s novel. Jones (real name Justus McQueen), who took his name from the character he portrayed in his first film, Battle Cry (1955), also wrote, produced and co-starred in a 1972 horror thriller called Brotherhood of Satan, which is — no joke — one of the scariest films I saw as a kid. What’s more, The Wild Bunch (inwhich Jones was unforgettably teamed with Strother Martin as two ofRobert Ryan’s grubbier bounty hunters) is, in my opinion, the greatestwestern ever. Any time I need a little cheering up, I watch the end.Among the performers scheduled to attend are Jean Shepard, whose 1953duet with Ferlin Husky, “A Dear John Letter,” was the first post-WWIIrecord by a woman to sell a million copies. Shepard’s other hitsinclude “A Satisfied Mind” and “Beautiful Lies.” Also on the bill arethe Triad Harmony Express and renowned guitarist Johnny Meeks. Ticketprices range from $5 for an individual ticket (after 5 p.m.) to $75 fora couple’s three-day pass. The event runs through Sunday. TheWestern Film Fair was created by the Western Film Preservation Societyfor the purpose of preserving and promoting the memories and ideals ofclassic western movies and TV. For more detailed information about theevent, see www. westernfilmfair.com. ——

When I was a kid, I never had all that good a time at summer camp. The experience always seemed to fall somewhere between Meatballs and Friday the 13 th . Then again, I didn’t go to any really cool summer camps…. That’snot the case with the Children’s Theatre of Winston- Salem’s summercamp, which is probably very cool. Again teaming with the Open DreamEnsemble, the camp will be a week-long, half-day, multi-disciplinarytheater arts camp for children ages 7-11. The camp will be held theweek of Aug. 4-8 at the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem (390 S.Liberty St.). The camp fee is $175 per camper (includes a daily snackand beverage), with a limited number of scholarships for economicallydisadvantaged students. Just like last year’s program, thecampers will be split into three age groups and will rotate throughthree theatrical disciplines (acting/improvisation, music, dance), aswell as learning a myriad of practice skills and performance exercises. Already it sounds more fun than the summer camps I went to! Formore information about the summer camp program, or to register yourchild (or children), call 336.725.4531 or e-mail the lovely andtalented Karen McHugh at Karen@ childrenstheatrews.org Whilewe’re on the subject of the Children’s Theatre, tickets are already onsale for its 2008-’09 season, which will include such family favoritesas The Jungle Book, Madeline & The Bad Hat, Max & Ruby, TheGreat Alphabet Adventure, Beatrix Potter’s Tailor of Gloucester andmany more. Unless otherwise noted, these shows will be presented at theArts Council Theatre (610 Coliseum Drive, Winston-Salem), which iscurrently undergoing renovations. The Children’s Theatre will kick off its 68t h season will a free presentation of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs on Oct. 4 at Reynolds Auditorium (301 N. Hawthorne Road, Winston- Salem). TheChildren’s Theatre of Winston-Salem remains one of the hottest ticketsin the Triad — and that’s no joke. Tickets are $8 (general admission)and $12 (reserved seats), and can be ordered by calling the theater(same number as above) or checking out the website, which is constantlyupdated: www.childrenstheatrews.org.

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