Danville Express

Newsfront - March 16, 2007

Old West lives on in Alamo

Horseman's event brings out the cowboys - and their art

by Natalie O'Neill

Clad head to toe in authentic cowboy attire, Randy Griffith held up a black antique pistol with cream colored ivory paneling.

"You see that right there?" he asked with a playful swagger, pointing to a faded red blotch that stood out against the ivory.

"That's an old blood stain," he said wide-eyed.

The gun, which was used before the turn of the century in the Old West, was part of a western antiques display at Alamo's cowboy dinner last week.

East Bay Old West enthusiasts moseyed on down to an evening of cowboy poetry, tales, antiques and photography, put on by the San Ramon Valley Horsemen's Association last Friday at the Alamo Women's Club.

Some Alamo residents were avid equestrians, others belonged to gun clubs, and a handful were just looking to mingle among friends and enjoy food with a western theme. Event coordinator Heidi Koch said more than 100 people came from as far away as Berkeley and Livermore.

"The Old West was a simpler, more honest time. This is a night for people who want to escape the 21st century," said Randy Bohannon, who wore a dried rattlesnake fastened to the side of his hat.

Acclaimed contemporary cowboy poets Lynn Owens and Susan Parker read aloud as after-dinner entertainment, touching on subjects like the rural lifestyle, simpler days and the American Civil War.

"I always have to keep a pad and pen with me in case I get a flash of inspiration," Owens said.

Owens has had two of his poems accepted by the Confederate Museum in Richmond, Va., and writes under the pen name of Waddie O.

Western-themed photography accompanied by music was also presented after dinner by Andreas Koch, who specializes in a unique combination of photos and music on a DVD titled "The Old West." Antiques including western saddles, worn cowboy hats and faded posters were on display as well.

Heidi Koch said the goal of holding the dinner was to get both equestrians and non-equestrians together to celebrate the country way of life and connect with other horse clubs.

"We love to look back and think what the area looked like before all the cars and houses," she said.

Groups of men and women in cowboy hats chatted about their experiences raising horses and going on horseback-riding trips, and some exchanged facts about the history of Alamo.

The San Ramon Valley Horsemen's Association goal is to promote interest in horses, their proper care and handling, and to cooperate with other groups in developing trails and maintaining them.

In a place like Alamo the rural lifestyle and love for horses is still well preserved, Koch said.

"Alamo has a huge equestrian community. The Old West is still alive here," she said.


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