Dakota Western Heritage Festival to Close
After eight successful years of bringing education and entertainment to the Dakotas, the Dakota Western Heritage Festive (DWHF) is shutting the corral gate for the last time.
The Festival grew each year, bringing numerous exhibits, demonstrations and a freedom stage highlighting the cream of cowboy poets and musicians crop, all at no cost to the public. The basic goal to educate and entertain was met by demonstrations by farriers, saddle makers, rope makers, silversmiths, hat makers, boot makers and many more. The music and poetry told the story of the heritage of the cowboy and the life on the plains. The original two day event was quickly expanded to a three day event when a one – day wagon train was added to the agenda. Performers from all over the country, from Texas to Canada, from Nevada to New York, participated, and without exception felt the Festival was a unique event, with many comparing it favorably to long-established cowboy event throughout the West.
Gary Heintz, founder and co-producer of the Dakota Western Heritage Festival, with fellow co-producer Carmen Cowan Magee, have been passionate about the Festival, and shouldered much of the day-to-day responsibilities over the eight year life of the event, but health reasons, Gary’s recent diagnosis of stage 1 pancreatic cancer and Carmens’ three years of back surgeries in addition to the recent health problems her husband Fred has been diagnosed with, caused Gary and Carmen to re-examine their priorities, and when visiting with others involved, namely Willie Cowan who has been wagon master on the wagon train, the decision was obvious. Family and health are most important, and with the Festival being so unique, and no one available or able to step in and continue the event, always keeping it true to the original goals, closing on a high note seemed to be the best solution.
The Festival is a 501.c3, non-profit event, and there are so many people who have stepped up and helped with the production or each year’s event that need to be thanked, far too many to name. Many family heirlooms have been displayed, much history has been shared, and most important, many friendships have been formed. The producers thank everyone who has been a part of this Festival, and hope that, with their help, much enjoyment has been shared. Thanks for riding along, everyone!
–Dakota Western Heritage Festival