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Award-winning local Wild West performers headline showcase at Annie Oakley Festival July 29-31.

In Local News on July 11, 2022 at 11:24 am

Greenville, OH – The 19th Annual American Western Arts Showcase is slated for July 29-30, 2022, during the Annie Oakley Festival at the Darke County Fairground, 800 Sweitzer St., in Greenville, Ohio. Each of the stage-style Wild West shows features whip marksmanship and knife throwing performances as well as some trick roping, stunt demos, comedy routines and audience participation. The showcase event is free and open to the public.

Presented in the spirit of the stage-style Wild West shows of the late 19th Century, each production will include some detailed history of how these arts came to be and who still practices them today. Award-winning bullwhip performer and coach, Gery Deer is the show’s founder, emcee, and producer. “This is a one-of-a-kind show in this region,” Deer said. “We have some of the best Wild West arts entertainment anywhere in the Midwest with real practitioners of each skill.”

Gery Deer of Jamestown is producer, performer, and emcee for the American Western Arts Showcase, each year at Annie Oakley Festival in Greenville, Ohio. The 2022 season marks their 19th year.

Deer started the event in Jamestown, Ohio, in 2002 but has been a regular presence at the Annie Oakley Festival every year since. “Our goal has always been to educate as well as entertain, ours is a dying art form,” Deer said. “These are talented performers with genuine ability, no fakery, no tricks. Everything you see in our show is real – and all of our shows are in 3-D and high definition!”

Champion knife thrower Kirk Bass, of Xenia, Ohio, is co-producer of the event. He and his daring wife Melodee are known as “Bass Blades,” a long-running impalement act.  They are among the performers to take the open-air stage for the competition and matinee show beginning at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 30. Contests begin with the National Whip Speed and Accuracy Exhibition Competition, the world’s only Bullwhip Fast Draw contest. Plus, there is a contest taken straight from the big screen.

In 1981, a fedora-wearing, leather-clad archaeologist threw the crack heard round the world when he “whipped” a pistol from the hand of a jungle guide. At the beginning of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Indiana Jones demonstrated his skills with the holstered fast-draw of a 10-foot bullwhip, all while having to spin around to take aim first.

In the spirit of Dr. Jones’ proficiency, the competition includes a special, “blind bullwhip fast draw.” Contestants must mimic the move used in the film to turn, draw their holstered whip, and crack at a target with speed and accuracy.

“With the popularity of Indiana Jones among western performers, particularly whip artists, it’s odd this hasn’t been done before,” explained Deer, who holds multiple, national whip speed and accuracy titles and is the director of The Whip Artistry Studio, the only permanent whip training facility in America.

The final showcase performance for the weekend will be at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. However, Deer will also appear at the festival as a solo performer beginning at 12 Noon on Sunday, July 31, for a series of Indiana Jones-style whip performances, complete with costuming.

The event is sponsored by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd., The Whip Artistry Studio, and the Annie Oakley Festival Committee. For links to the festival and sneak previews of the performers plus updated show times, visit ohiowesternarts.org.