PHOTOS: Cowboy Festival draws Wild West, film fanatics

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Performers from the Band of the California Battalion prepare for a parade down Main Street on Sunday during the 20th annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival at the Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio, where Oscar-winning film Django Unchained was filmed.

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Quentin and father Jim Bechtol shop for Western-style clothing at LA-based Old Frontier Clothing Co. Bechtol said he's slowly building his cowboy clothing collection, and bought his jacket at the same store during last year's festival.

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Seventy-seven-year-old Jim Downsley of Chatsworth has been roping since he was 9 years old. Downsley was first inspired to learn roping in 1947 by Montie Montana, who performed at the Rose Parade every year. "Now kids have videos and CDs," he said, "it used to be if you went to the rodeo that was the only time you saw it."

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Bryan jones heats horseshoes during the Cowboy Festival in Santa Clarita on Sunday. Jones learned blacksmithing 20 years ago, when he bought a chuck wagon. In order to restore it, he had to make pieces by hand.

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After heating horseshoes in charcoal, Bryan Jones hammers the pieces into shape.

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Collette Lash of Valencia tries on a new cowboy hat in Melody Ranch's Main Street, where actors like Clint Eastwood, Gene Autry, John Wayne, and Gregory Peck have worked on films.

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Salesman Doug Oliver for The Old Frontier Clothing Co. works for owner and founder Larry Bitterman, who designs every piece in the store, "down to the buttons," said Bitterman. His clothes are used often for bands, movies and television.

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Six-year-old Shane Gilliam plays with lassos with his brother and friends during the 20th Annual Cowboy Festival. HBO's series, Deadwood, is filmed at Melody Ranch Studios.

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Logan, 7, and Paloma Lilly, 6, of Valencia dress up for Sunday's Cowboy Festival. The family loves the Wild West, and has lots of Western clothing pieces at home.

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Attendees are invited to pet Dutchess, a horse from Mojave, during the 20th Annual Cowboy Festival in Santa Clarita. The event lasts four days, giving the public a chance to see where many films are made, including Oscar winner Django Unchained.


Once a year, Wild West fanatics have the chance to see the sets where films like Django Unchained were shot.

This weekend Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studios put on the 20th annual Cowboy Festival along Main Street, a fictitious Western town tucked inside a residential neighborhood near Newhall.

Attendees sporting leather boots and felt hats walked along dirt roads listening to live country music and shopping for Western attire. Occasionally, festival-goers were roped in by cowboys like 77-year-old Jim Downsley, who learned to rope when he was nine years old.

Most recently, HBO's Deadwood was shot at the studio. Melody Ranch is full of history in the Western film industry. Actors like John Wayne, Gene Autry, Clint Eastwood, and Gregory Peck have worked there.

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