They came into Blanco by the truckload, the trailer load, in backpacks, duffel bags and suitcases. They were carried around by the hands full, attached to leather belts and even slung over the shoulder. Knives, tomahawks, bullwhips, Old West pistols and carbines were seen everywhere. Shady-looking characters with long grey beards walked around gazing out from under broad-brimmed floppy hats, wearing beaded buckskin shirts and breeches with frilly fringes and high-topped, well-worn moccasins.
There were horsemen and horsewomen, carriages, buckboards, chuck wagons, Dutch ovens, guitars, long dresses with puffy petticoats, and even young boys and girls taking aim with knives and hatchets. There was a rare white buffalo and a huge longhorn steer all saddled up and ready for the stout of heart to mount and ride. Vendors sold homemade trinkets, antiques, saddles, leather goods, jams and jellies, salsa, burgers and funnel cakes. A Hollywood movie set? Nope. It was the first annual Western Showcase right here in Blanco, Texas. And what a show it was!
This western extravaganza was held at the Buggy Barn Museum and Carriage Hills Ranch on the weekend of November 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. It featured the Eleventh Annual 2012 Central United States Knife and Tomahawk Throwing World Championship. Professional and amateur throwers came from all over the United States and Europe to showcase their skills.
Winners of this year’s throwing events included Mike Pearl of Tennessee who won both the Gold Cup Award in Knife Throwing and The Gold Cup Award in Tomahawk Throwing. Other winners in knife throwing were Chris Miller of Texas, Richard Wesson of Maryland, Pascal of France, John Grabowski, Ken Witherell, Roger Mumford from Rhode Island, Jim Dees, Roy Williamson of parts unknown, Brenna Hobbs of Wimberley, and Jaime Silva, Gillian Settler and Brooke Landry of Austin.
Tomahawk throwing winners, in addition to World Champion Mike Pearl, were Richard Sunderland of England, Pascal of France, Ward Wright of Canada, Pat Minter of Texas, Pierre Cazonlat of France, Rudd Pickett of Kansas, Thomas Stuckey, Jim Dees and Jaime Silva of Texas. Other competitors came from the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, North Carolina, New Jersey and New York. There were teenage boys and girls as well as grizzled old veterans.
The long distance knife throwing competition on Sunday was won by a Frenchman who’s throw of 6 x 6’’ missed matching the world record by mere inches. Others who placed were Pascal of France and Dr. Ted. The Tomahawk distance event was won by Pierre Cazonlat of France with a throw of 51’7’’. The others who placed were Sylvain of France and John Grabowski of the USA.
One visitor was heard to say, “Did you see that guy with the trick horse? Why, that horse could do anything a trained dog could do and more!” He was talking about Dan Mink, The Rhinestone Roper, who is a master of the Wild West arts. He is the 2009 World Champion Whip Performer and World Champion All Around Wild West Performer. He is the 2007 World Champion Gun Spinner and was inducted into the International Knife Throwers Hall of Fame. Dan was a criminal lawyer until he decided to follow his dream of becoming a horseman seventeen years ago. He and his trick horse, Lucky, made quite an impression on visitors to the Festival.
Mike “Alamo” Bainton is a man with an impressive resume. He holds a PhD in Child Psychology, is in the Guinness Book of World Records, and is a World and National Champion in Knife and Tomahawk Throwing. He is the founder of the International Knife Throwers Hall of Fame (IKTHOF) in Austin. He told and sang riveting stories about Texas and the Alamo.
Buffalo Bill Leighton is a teller of tall tales, a showman, a rifleman and a horseman. He is a graduate of the school of the fast gun and is an instructor in firearms safety; rifle, pistol and shotgun. He is also an instructor with whips, bull whips and Australian stock whips. Bill is also a combat swordsman and master scuba diver. He was Wild West Performer of the Year in 2007.
Jean Prescott is a multiple award-winning singer and songwriter and is known as “the spiritual essence of the West.” Her songs are about her love of life, as well as about women of the West. Among her many awards are the Academy of Western Artists Female Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year.
K.R. Wood became interested in country music over 40 years ago, and is a Texas singer and song writer, as well as musician and historian. K.R. travels across Texas to keep history alive by singing and telling tales to audiences of all ages.
Jack Dagger is “The King of Fling” and is a world-renowned knife throwing comedian. He has won many world championships and has appeared in several television shows. He invented a new knife throwing stunt, the first in almost a hundred years.
Mike and Rosa Gross’s “One Sharp Marriage” show has been performed since 2001. What makes their shows so unique is the incredible trust they have for one another. They are the 2010 Knife Throwing Ambassadors of the Year. Mike is considered to be a certified expert in knife and tomahawk throwing. Rosa is one brave woman. As she spins while attached to a large wooden wheel, Mike outlines her form by throwing knives and tomahawks. Now, THAT is one sharp marriage!
The Buggy Barn Museum is located at 1915 Highway 281 North in Blanco. It is home to more than 65 buggies and carriages, many that have been seen in movies including True Grit; Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer; There Will Be Blood; and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Local businessman and entrepreneur Dennis Moore is the owner and operator, along with his wife Kelly. The museum is open to the public and provides carriages for special occasions. Dennis’ chuck wagon catering is well-known throughout the area.
The Carriage Hills Ranch is located in Blanco at 125 Moore Lane and is family owned and operated by Frank and Christine Bushong. On the property is a beautifully remodeled country barn that can be used for weddings, parties, dances and other events. The outdoor country setting includes a pond, gazebo, fireplace and waterfall. It was the perfect venue for the First Annual Blanco Western Showcase. The International Knife and Tomahawk Throwers Board of Directors was so impressed with the venues and the support of the Blanco community that the Western Showcase could become a permanent part of the local landscape alongside the Lavender Festival and other popular Blanco cultural arts and tourist events.
Besides the participation of friends and family members, there is a long list of local sponsors and partners who contributed volunteers, funds and other goods and services that made the event a success.