Saturday, 22 June 2024

Upper Lake celebrates western heritage with Wild West Day

Horses made their way along Main Street in Upper Lake, Calif., during the annual Wild West Day celebration on Saturday, June 5, 2010. Photo by Tera DeVroede.

UPPER LAKE – Main Street in Upper Lake was transformed into a bustling western scene this last Saturday.

The Wild West lived again, and has every year for the past 17 years, thanks to the hard work of Upper Lake’s Wild West Day founders Jill Perry of the Upper Lake Community Council and Debbie Hablutzel, president of the council.

The all-day, family-friendly event has grown to include an auxiliary breakfast, barbecue tri-tip dinner, street faire, theme contests, a parade, skits, a bull ride, kids’ inflatable jumpers and more.

New this year was a mechanical bull, thanks to Mobile Rock out of Auburn. For a small extra charge, those who dared took a seat and held on. Joe Fernandez got a special thanks for helping the community council with bull ride ticket sales all day long – and for donating all the wood for the mouth-watering tri-tip grill.

Another cool attraction was the booth set up by the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association, Branch no. 31. They had an old motor that people, back in the olden days, used to pump water or power their home appliances such as a washing machine.

“It was the iPod of its day,” said representative Carl Righetti.

The Upper Lake Community and Northshore Fire Protection District benefits from this event, as all profits go back into the community, said Perry. The event stays true to its purpose of helping the local economy. It has provided funds for a variety of uses, including beautification and historical preservation.

First place in the tractor competition was Floyd Hammack of Santa Rosa, Calif., with a 1956 Bolen with a 1934 Maytag and gas motor. Photo by Tera DeVroede.

The idea for the annual celebration came from former Upper Lake Postmaster Willie Guluarte when he and the original council were brainstorming on ways to attract more people to the historic town. Both Hablutzel and her husband, Brent, have a local business, as did Perry at the time. Both women, and the postmaster, knew Upper Lake needed something to bring more people into town.

At the first Wild West Day, the event was put on with only $100, said Perry.

Hablutzel said she thinks that this year's event was the best so far.

“I thought last year was it, but it definitely grew again,” she said. “This year’s was the biggest Wild West Day yet.”

A lot goes on behind the scenes – a lot of volunteer work, that is. The ladies originally handled the whole event by themselves, waking at 5:30 a.m. for the set up and cleaning up after through 8:00 p.m. Now, Perry has a crew of volunteers to aid them in the effort.

“They have been a big help for us,” said Perry.

Bales of hay dotted the street and nearly every hour the crowd was treated to a comical skit by the Blue Canyon Gang. Whether it was over money, or money, the gun-slinging cowboys and their women, threw down in a smoky bullet exchange, ending up with several of the actors playing dead – and pretty well, too. The actual boom from real guns loaded with blanks did make a few ears rings and babies cry. But, it was all for an authentic western experience.

Margaret and David Retherford were among the costume winners at this year's Wild West Day in Upper Lake, Calif., on Saturday, June 5, 2010. Photo courtesy of Phil Smoley.

The West was not complete without horses – and the parade had a herd of beautiful horses along with classic cars, old tractors and western dress themes.

More than 50 vendors lined the street with their goods while people walked up and down, enjoying the parade, costumed event-goers, beautiful weather and well-planned activities.

Below are the results of the event's contests and parade.

Parade results

Grand Prize: 1927 Mercedes Roadster from Les Jardins du Bateau

Special Award: Rooster Lord as Black Bart

Floats: First place – The purple train from Olivia’s Organics; second place – ER Energy.

Music/marching groups: First place – Upper Lake High School Band; second place – United Veterans Council Color Guard.

Equestrian: First place – Back Country Horsemen of California, Lake-Mendocino Unit and the Clearlake Horse Club; second place – Lacy Villines and her miniature horse Rosie; third place – Nancy Williams of Williams Equine Enterprises.

Tractors: First place – 1956 Bolen with a 1934 Maytag and gas motor from owner Floyd Hammack of Santa Rosa and member of the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association, Branch no. 31; second place – 1951 Ford Tractor from owner Carl Peterson; third place – 1941 Ford Tractor from owner Teresa Petersen.

Vehicles: First place – 1947 Ford pickup truck from owner Bernie Butcher of the Blue Wing Café and Tallman Hotel; second place – 1948 Dodge fire truck from owner Jamie Crabtree; third place – 1941 Dodge pick-up truck from owner Don Smith.

Other: First place – Wiley Kirk; second place – Lake County Wine Studio; third place – an old Ford EU from owner Jeff Tarpley.

Contestant Norma Clay shows off her 19th century costume at the annual Wild West Day celebration on Saturday, June 5, 2010, in Upper Lake, Calif. Photo courtesy of Phil Smoley.

Beard and bonnet contest winners

Female costume: First place – Judy Pinto; second place – Sherry Fitch; third place – Laura Lamar.

Male costume: First place – David Retherford; second place – Matt Seabaugh; third place: Rooster Lord.

Mustache: First place – Jim Huddleson; second place – Lloyd Stottsberry; third place – Rooster Lord.

Beard: First place – Joe Schuster; second place – Buck Bonker; third place – Leroy Harris.

Bonnet: First place – Margaret Retherford; second place – Doris Harville; third place – Laura Lamar.

The Northshore Fire Protection District and the Upper Lake community council sponsored the event, along with the following local businesses and organizations: Bachelor Valley Grange, Nor Cal Motor & Speed Equipment, Finnish Line Coffee, Joe’s Place Automotive, The Virtuous Woman, Judy’s Junction, Hi-Way Grocery, Lastmile Auto Wreckers, Treasure Cove Pizza, Country Carpets, Westamerica Bank, Woody’s Gas Station, Dr. Milan Hopkins Alternative Medicine and Spa, Noble Realty, The Elegant Bowl, Blue Wing Saloon, Tallman Hotel, Pivniska Trucking, Northshore Business Association, MJ’s Place and Mountain High Coffee and Books.

Visit for more information about Upper Lake.

E-mail Tera deVroede at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

Jim Hudelson was the winner of the contest for best mustache at this year's Wild West Day in Upper Lake, Calif., on Saturday, June 5, 2010. Photo courtesy of Phil Smoley.

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