Milo Holt Western Festival struggles in 8th installment

Posted 5/24/19

SILER CITY — With a crowd estimated by its organizer at around only 50, the Milo Holt Western Festival, held Saturday, failed to meet expectations.

Linda Lehman, who has spearheaded the festival …

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Milo Holt Western Festival struggles in 8th installment

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Posted

SILER CITY — With a crowd estimated by its organizer at around only 50, the Milo Holt Western Festival, held Saturday, failed to meet expectations.

Linda Lehman, who has spearheaded the festival since its inception eight years ago, is considering ways to improve the event and hopefully draw a larger audience.

“I was a little discouraged,” Lehman said of the low turnout for the downtown festival, which featured screenings of old Western movies, re-enactments of shoot-outs and other Wild West-themed entertainment, and live musical performances.

The performers enjoyed the event, Lehman said, and are eager to return next year. They also want to help boost its profile for future installments, she said.

But Lehman, who is unwavering in hoping for the festival’s return next year, is considering some changes, including moving it from the spring to the fall and even, possibly, changing its location to Pittsboro or Goldston, as some have suggested.

“But I hate to lose Siler City,” she said.

She launched the festival shortly after the death in 2011 of its namesake, Milo Holt. The Siler City resident was a lifelong champion of Western movies, well-known in his hometown for his love of the Wild West and things associated with it.

Lehman is Holt’s niece and has single-handedly organized and largely self-funded the event in his honor. In past years, the festival has drawn several hundred Western film buffs to town, though last year’s event, beset by rain, also suffered from low attendance.

Lehman speculates the timing of this year’s festival — occurring so soon after the hugely successful Spring Chicken Festival, also held downtown — or maybe Saturday’s soaring temperatures and high humidity, kept attendance low.

Lehman spoke briefly with the Siler City Board of Commissioners Monday, asking for their guidance and help in keeping the festival going and keeping it in Siler City.

Randall Rigsbee can be reached at rigsbee@chathamnr.com.

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