Do you like cowboys and cowgirls? What about John Wayne and other Hollywood Western heroes? If so, you should head to Siler City in Chatham County May 15–16 for the Milo Holt Western Festival, a Western-themed, family-friendly festival that celebrates Western movies!
Who is Milo Holt?
There’s nothing quite like a good Western film. A throwback to the time when cowboys and girls explored the wide open spaces of the West, this kind of Hollywood hit just makes you feel good, and it’s little wonder Westerns have developed a large fan base in the U.S. Milo Holt was one of those many fans.
Holt, who passed away in 2011, was a Chatham County resident and was known to love Westerns. After founding a Western Film Club, he hosted filmings about five times per year, and hundreds of other Western fans showed up. He also founded the Western Historical Preservation Society for B-Western movies, and he started a museum in his own home dedicated to Westerns. If that’s not enough, he even published a bimonthly newsletter about Western films that reached a global audience. Holt was a fan in the truest sense of the word.
Since his death, his family and friends have memorialized him by hosting the annual Milo Holt Western Festival in Siler City.
What is the Milo Holt Western Festival?
The festival, which will be held this year on May 15 — 16 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Siler City, is a two-day celebration of all things Western, including cowboy look-a-likes, performances, costume contests, photo booths, free western film screenings, gem mining and more! This alcohol-free family-friendly event is a hit every year in Siler City, and it’s a great way to meet other members of the Chatham County community.
Look-a-likes: As you walk about the festival, be on the lookout for cowboy look-a-likes, including John Wayne, Sunset Carson, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Annie Oakley and Tonto. One special appearance will be Indian Chief Jay Silverheels, who is the son of the same Jay Silverheels who played Tonto in the Lone Ranger.
Performances: An Indian Spiritual dancer will take the stage to perform an inspirational song and dance. Other musicians, including New Direction, The Trailblazers, Rocky River Cowboys, Charlie’s Band, will also take the stage throughout the weekend.
Free Western film screenings: A Western film festival wouldn’t be complete without some actual films! Stop by anytime at 121 N Chatham Ave on Main Street for a free film viewing!
Gem mining: One of the most popular activities for kids, the festival will include a Western-style gem mine, so you can feel like a prospector hunting for gold!
Other events include food, a shootout at high noon, cowboy rope tricks, a bullwhip exhibition, and cowboys’ six-guns with gun safety demo.
Make a weekend of the trip!
May 15 is the third Friday in May, so you have the added advantage of attending Third Friday ArtWalk as part of the weekend festivities. Every month, Third Friday ArtWalk celebrates local art throughout North Carolina, and the event includes food, music and — perhaps my favorite part — some old-fashioned candy! This month’s Third Friday will take place from noon until 9 p.m. on May 15.
This month, a Chatham County-based group called the Wingnut Artists will be presenting a new show, one that must be seen! The Wingnut Artists are a collective group of 5 artists located in the Siler City Arts District that produce some pretty innovative pieces. Other galleries include PAF Gallery featuring Chatham Camera Club, Person to Person Art, Raleigh Street Gallery, Against His Will Gallery, Stained Glass by Sam, Paperbacks Plus, and NC Arts Incubator Studios.
Farmers Alliance will be providing some of that delicious old-fashioned candy we all remember from our childhood, including an assortment of stick candy in peppermint, lemon, cream, sassperilla, clove and horehound, chocolate covered peanuts and raisins, and coconut bon bons. As you can imagine, these go pretty fast, so make sure to arrive early to enjoy these treats!
Mark your calendars now!
If you’ve got the weekend open, you should definitely make the trip. Old-fashioned candy, free Western films, gem mining — there’s something for everybody!
Milo Holt Western Festival:
May 15 — 16, 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
222 E Raleigh St Siler City, NC 27344
Third Friday ArtWalk:
May 15, noon until 9 p.m.
222 E Raleigh St Siler City, NC 27344