Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Happy Trails Film Festival

Earlier this year I reported of a recent decline in cowboy film festivals. An aging fanbase was the primary cause of two conventions closing doors, scaling back on the number of fan gatherings catering a generation who grew up with heroes to aspire to such as Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and Johnny Mack Brown. Well, it seems Dr. Fred Eichelman decided to carry the torch with the newly-formed Happy Trails Virginia Style film festival. "It was created for the purpose of celebrating the great Western films and TV shows that we loved in the past and to encourage a new crop of film makers to bring back those great days of yesteryear," Fred told me in an e-mail. "There is a hunger for the values expressed in those films and we see too seldom today."

As retired teachers, Fred and Carolyn Eichelman used many of those productions in their classrooms and found that children today are not too different from those of the past. There is an interest in quality Westerns held by all ages and Fred, along with a staff of volunteers, plan to pick up where two prior events succeeded. 

"We were approached last October by friends in the Roanoke Valley who had worked with us when they were much younger and remembered that we once helped run media events here that were very popular, not Western but more of a general media nature," said Fred. "It has been said the day of the Westerns are long gone and cannot be brought back. We disagree. Our title was inspired by our friend Dodie Rogers, the youngest daughter of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and she has been an enthusiastic supporter of this idea. This is true of all our guests."

Attending this year's event is Morgan Brittany of Dallas and Rawhide, Don Collier of High Chaparral, Geoffrey Duel of Chisum, Kathy Garver from Family Affair, Barbara Luna from The Big Valley, Jon Provost (best known as Timmy from Lassie), Rudy Ramos from The High Chaparral, and many others.

Advanced ticket sales (for those who want to purchase admission at a discount price) indicates a strong attendance and Fred already scheduled a three-day event for October 2018. 

The one-day event will be held at the Holiday Inn in Roanoke, Virginia, on October 7, 2017. For more information you can call Fred personally at 540-819-2032.

A copy of their promotional flyer can be found below. 


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