Western Legends Roundup returns to Kanab in celebration of Utah’s ‘Little Hollywood’

ST. GEORGE An annual festival celebrating the town of Kanab’s starring role as the backdrop for movies in the western genre returns for a weekend event packed with activities.

In this Aug. 22 file photo, guests attend the Western Legends Roundup street festival in Kanab, Utah, Aug. 22, 2014 | Photo by Cami Cox Jim, St. George News

Western Legends Roundup kicks off this weekend Thursday to Saturday in venues throughout downtown Kanab.

Attractions include live music by the likes of Always Patsy Cline and Roo Arcus, a “Wild West Show” comedy special, a quilting show, a one-man play about Native American leader Geronimo and a chance to meet and dine with the stars of classic western films.

Many of the events are free admission. A full schedule of events can be found on the Western Legends Roundup website where tickets can also be purchased online.

Rudy Ramos reflects on role in one-man play about Geronimo

One of the major attractions of this year’s roundup is the one-man play, “Geronimo, Life on the Reservation.” The play was written specifically for its star, Rudy Ramos, an actor with more than 47 years of work in TV, movie and stage acting with credits in such classics as the 1977 TV film “Helter Skelter” and “The Enforcer” with Clint Eastwood in 1976.

The play is a story about Native American icon Geronimo and his life as a prisoner of war in his own country in Oklahoma, portraying the resiliency, humor and genius of the Apache warrior.

See a short clip of the play in the video top of this report.

Rudy Ramos performs in the one-man play, “Geronimo, Life on the Reservation,” date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Rudy Ramos, St. George News

The play focuses on the last 23 years of Geronimo’s life as he evolves from a surrendered Native American leader into a celebrity and entrepreneur.

Ramos said he became interested in adapting the story into a play about 30 years ago and finally got the opportunity to make that dream happen in 2011 when he helped writer Janelle Meraz Hooper turn the story into an hour-long show.

Directed by Steve Railsback, who has around 80 film credits to his name, the play has garnered five-star reviews as Ramos has taken it on the road to venues across the country from Los Angeles to Memphis.

Ramos first learned about Geronimo as a little boy in the Fort Sill Indian Reservation near Lawton, Oklahoma.

“We heard about all his escapes and all his battles,” Ramos said in an interview with St. George News.

Ramos has Native American heritage and grew up around native culture. His play has received great praise from Native American audiences who Ramos said appreciate the intimate look at Geronimo’s life story.

“It is a seldom-told story but it is fact-based,” Ramos said.

He said he takes great care to “become the character,” including donning historically accurate costumes and emulating Geronimo’s unique voice and speaking style.

Rudy Ramos poses with a photograph of Native American historical figure Geronimo, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Rudy Ramos, St. George News

“The biggest comment, the one that’s always there, is you feel like you’re watching Geronimo, and I buy into that comment because I do live it,” Ramos said. “It doesn’t feel right if I don’t live it.

“I really engage my audience because I am talking to them. I’m telling them a story. So, I’m looking right at them, and I’ll go right up to the edge of the stage, and I’m looking at people. My audiences have all been wonderful, and I feed off of them.”

He said performing the play is the happiest he’s been in his entire acting career.

“You don’t get rich doing it, but there’s a richness that comes from doing it,” Ramos said. “It’s a passion and a love.”

The play has kept him busy between acting jobs in parts for screens big and small.

Shortly after wrapping his performance this weekend, Ramos will be heading to Salt Lake City to act in two-to-three episodes of an upcoming modern-day western TV series called “Yellowstone” starring Kevin Costner to air on the upcoming Paramount Network.

Ramos will perform the play Friday and Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the Crescent Moon Theater at 150 S. 100 East in Kanab. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online.

Event details

  • What: 19th annual Western Legends Roundup.
  • When: Aug. 24-26, all day.
  • Where: Kanab, various locations.
  • Cost: Varies for individual attractions; some events free.
  • More information: Facebook | Website

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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