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Western Film Fair rides again in Winston-Salem

by Mark Burger

The sun hasn’t set yet on the Western Film Fair and Nostalgia Convention, which will be galloping back to Winston-Salem July 13-16 at the Hawthorne Inn & Conference Center.

This marks the 39 th annual event, and according to Jerry Campbell, long-time Western Film Fair proponent/organizer, “we’re already looking toward the 40 th next year.”

In addition to the star-studded line-up of guests, film screenings and panel discussions, as well as the souvenir-studded dealers room, this year’s festival has a few new enticements. The first 300 ticket buyers will receive two free books: Bobby Copeland’s 2003 biography Charlie King – We Called Him Blackie, which details the life and career of the character actor (1895- 1957) famed for his villainous portrayals in 300 Westerns throughout his career; and Sue Gossett’s 1996 biography The Films and Career of Audie Murphy, which examines the life of the most decorated American soldier of World War II, then parlayed his fame into a successful acting career until his life was cut short by a fatal plane crash.

“They’re both very interesting and well-written books, and I especially liked the one about Audie Murphy,” says Campbell, who remembers Murphy not only as a Western star but as an American hero.

This year the Western Film Fair will, for the first time, present special screenings in 3-D: The 1953 horror classic House of Wax – possibly the most famous 3-D movie of all – and the 1953 Western The Charge at Saber River, starring Guy Madison and Frank Lovejoy (who, ironically, also played the detective in House of Wax). “Don’t worry,” Campbell chuckles, “we’ve got the glasses!” Among the luminaries scheduled to attend this year’s event are Fred Williamson, the legendary “Hammer” of pro football and the star of many films, including such Westerns as Boss Ni—er (1975) – which, despite its title, was rated PG! – and the all-star Take a Hard Ride (also ’75), with Jim Brown and Lee Van Cleef; Nancy Stafford (“St. Elsewhere,” “Matlock”), entertainer Dodie Rogers (daughter of Roy Rogers), Duncan Regehr (“Zorro,” The Monster Squad), Geoffrey Deuel (Chisum, Terminal Island), Bobby Crawford (“Laramie”) and real-life brother Johnny Crawford (“The Rifleman,” Village of the Giants), Tessa Richarde (Bronco Billy, “Dallas”), Charlotte’s own Patsy Pease (“Days of Our Lives,” Space Raiders), and actor/producer/screenwriter Torry Martin (the upcoming Heaven Bound).

A wide variety of collectibles will be available for purchase in the dealers room, including vintage posters, lobby cards, magazines, stills, comics, autographs, 16mm films, DVDs and Blu-rays, books, toys, CDs and audio cassettes — and you might even find some albums on vinyl and movies on VHS, too. Saturday night of the festival, there will be live entertainment by the Jeff Little Trio.

The Western Film Fair and Nostalgia Convention culminates with the “Star Appreciation Banquet” on Saturday, July 16, where ticket buyers can mingle with the stars during dinner and again enjoy the music of the Jeff Little Trio. !

MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2016, Mark Burger.

WANNA go?

The Western Film Fair and Nostalgia Convention will be held July 13-16 at the Hawthorne Inn & Conference Center, 420 High St., Winston-Salem. A single three-day pass is $75, a couples three-day pass is $90. Daily passes are $25 per person, or $5 after 5 p.m. The Hawthorne Inn’s special Western Film Fair rate is $85 per night (includes breakfast). For hotel reservations, call 800.972.3774 (and ask for the special rate). For additional information about the Western Film Fair and Nostalgia Convention, call 828.524.5251 or e-mail cowboys@cometwesterns.com. The official website is www.westernfilmfair.com.

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