There was representation from 20 states and even a family from Wales, United Kingdom, according to Georgia Furr, vice president of the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Collectors Association.
“Our property adjoined (Roy Rogers’), and I’ve known him all my life,” Furr said.
Furr said she was so well-acquainted with Rogers and his family that when the opportunity arose to begin a festival dedicated to the Western star, Furr was eager to be in the thick of the organizations.
Many of the festival attendees this year were not new to the scene.
“I have been coming to this festival since 1983, the year it started,” said Jim Derr of Mount Carmel, Ill. Derr has been a Roy Rogers fan for 64 years, and watched his first Roy Rogers movie in the cinema at age 6, in 1947.
Roy Rogers enthusiasts, such as Derr, had the chance to watch the star’s films or go on Authentic Old West Stage Coach Tours. However, one of the more frequented attractions was the Dealers Room, where festival participants perused Roy Rogers memorabilia, DVDs of his films, Western clothing and the like.
Wanda Butler, who had a table in the Dealers Room, has been participating in this festival for 10 years. As with so many others, Roy Rogers was a childhood movie star hero of hers, and someone who inspired her to open a Western bikers shop in Wheelersburg.
“People are always excited to buy these Western-inspired things at the festival,” Butler said.
The highlight of every Roy Rogers festival, including this Centennial Celebration, is the “stars,” who in the past have included Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans, themselves.
This year, crowds gathered for autographs, to speak to and take photos with Dusty Rogers (Roy Rogers Jr.), his son, Dustin, and his sister Dodie.
In regards to his father being a movie star, Dusty said, “It’s had it’s perks, but it’s also been hard to share him with 25 million other kids.”
Following in his father’s footsteps, Dusty Rogers has been a part of a band for 25 years, called Roy Rogers Jr. and the High Riders, which is based in Branson, Mo.
“I haven’t been back to Portsmouth in about nine years,” Dusty Rogers said. However, as a special tribute for what would have been his father’s 100th birthday year, the younger Rogers emerged to give a performance, with the High Riders, on Friday, playing Cowboy songs such as “Tumbling Tumbleweeds.”
Some attendees boasted “Roy Rooms” in their own homes, most wore cowboy hats, and Dusty himself reminisced about Roy Rogers’ films, such as his favorite: “My Pal Trigger.”
NICOLE KUHN may be reached at (740) 353-3101 or email@example.com.