It’s always a good day for me to attend the Annie Oakley Festival in Greenville, Ohio where I rejoin old friends and meet some new ones at that annual event always set during the last weekend of July. In many ways I am happiest during that period because the world is as I’d like it to be and I get to dress the way I’d like for the event. This year was a little different however because its one of those transition periods for me. I’m in the middle of writing my new book, The Gunfighter’s Guide to Business and have been working on several themes that were born right there in Greenville over the last several decades. As a lover of Ohio history and of frontier life in general I find great solace in the small towns up and down Rt 127, from Hamilton, Ohio all the way up Celina on the Grand Lake St. Mary. Lebanon, and Eaton come to mind as well, and of course Greenville itself nestled there in God’s country with the smell of corn dogs and ice-cold Coke offered from the various venders. But more than anything I enjoy competing with those old and new friends and pushing myself in ways that I don’t get to do in regular life, and the results are always rewarding, such as in this very close example shown below of our Bullwhip Fast Draw competition during the finals.
Yes, it’s fast. I have been practicing Cowboy Fast Draw for quite a long time now and have a pretty good feel for how fast is fast. The events shown in our Bullwhip Fast Draw are around .600 of a second down to about .450, almost as fast as the pistol shooters who were also there at the event. I spent quite a lot of time with them as well. Yet it amazes me how fast the Bullwhip Fast Draw competition has become, and how fast we have become in conducting all the various steps literally in the blink of an eye. For a lot of people, the blink of an eye is about .015 of a second. So, we are moving very fast these days in performing a task that really should be nearly impossible. But you never really know until you start pushing yourself with competition which is one of the big themes in my new book.
I am an optimist, really an unshakable one. I’ve seen more than my share of tragedy and heartbreak, but my optimism has always been intact no matter what’s going on. Over the years this Annie Oakley event has been that reset period for me that no matter what has been occurring, it gave me an opportunity to be around people who aren’t losers and activists of malice and just enjoy good people in a good flag waving country. Many years ago, I broke away from the entertainment aspects of my relationship with the western arts and went to apply my skills to real life problems, that were very controversial. It was quite a thing to do before Donald Trump was president, but now isn’t considered so radical, because the country is snapping back into shape, thankfully. The evidence is everywhere. This year at our Western Showcase event a really good Lone Ranger impersonator stopped by and did a show which I enjoyed quite a lot. As I listened to the Lone Ranger creed from him, I couldn’t help but think of myself and some of the decisions I had made along the way leading up to that moment.
In 2004 I released the book The Symposium of Justice which featured a bullwhip cracking vigilante that was at war with the corruption of his hometown. But in the years thereafter I found that many of my themes were quite real and that as an author, I couldn’t just write about them, I wanted to be the real-life character of my stories. So, I turned my skills to the real-life problems of my community and many reading here know the rest of the story. Up until Donald Trump emerged from the Tea Party to become President of the United States, I felt I needed to be the real-life characters I had written about. But that has changed due to the sudden shifting of the winds. The western arts no longer feel like a dying thing as it used to, but something that is reemerging and becoming new again. That makes me very happy. Not only does the world need it, but it confirms many of the things about people that I have long suspected and those are the clear contents of my new book that will likely come out next year.
It has been sad that so many people who still believe in things like the Lone Ranger’s Creed have stayed out of the fight that has needed to be fought. I couldn’t just sit around and think about it. I wanted to do something about it and I am proud that I have. But hearing the Lone Ranger impersonator go through the creed this year in front of our audience was for me very refreshing. Some of my favorite quotes are “That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.” And “in being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.” Or, “That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather it and light it himself. Those are all good quotes and who could argue them? Well, Democrats for one, and many of today’s youth who get their morality from Grand Theft Auto rather than the Masked Man as they used to.
That is why I love the Annie Oakley event so much. It is a break from the disappointments of today’s culture and the youth being born from it, from the primitive cravings of body piercings, tattoos and shaky morality. Of loose sexual standards and a proclivity toward drugs and intoxication. From lazy losers who want socialism over capitalism and champions of expanding government who will issue them mailbox paychecks for just sitting around and letting mother government drop food in their mouths without doing anything to deserve it. For one day a year I get a break from all that and I cherish it tremendously. If I could have every day like the days I get in the middle of God’s country every year in Darke County I would take it eagerly. Unfortunately, that is not our reality, but it should be. Most of the people who go and participate in those events there don’t have the same kind of reflections that I do. They just go and enjoy the festivities without giving it much thought. But not me, I see the potential and reflect on what we used to do well and how we could do it again. And perhaps a new day is emerging. Whatever comes I at least feel good about what I’ve done to make the world better, which I will always do. But I get the feeling that the world is getting more favorable to those grand old traditions and that the thugs and losers of life aren’t winning any more, they are being swept away into the garbage heaps of history, where they belong and that makes me the happiest of all. For the first time in many years I think that tomorrow will be better than yesterday, and that is very encouraging.
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