OK -- Here's the link to Cowboyland, billed as the only wild west theme park in Italy. I can't wait to go, and I'll try to do so soon, if possible. It seems to be open every weekend in October.
It is located outside Voghera, and seems to be associated with the Cowboy Guest Ranch, also near Voghera, which hosts a variety of activities -- including a big rodeos -- the next in Oct. 12-13. The western scene in Italy is centered on horses and western riding. Country music (and trucks....) play only a marginal role.
There is (or was) a magazine called WesternSide that chronicled the scene (the web site is somewhat out of date) and I've attended several editions of "western games" at the ranchlike Tenuta Santa Barbara near Lake Bracciano near Rome, which included rodeo-style riding competitions as well as a variety of exhibitions, stands, etc. It's not clear from the web site if these are still going on.....
Saw a big advertisement for a new wild west theme park in Italy. Or at least I think it's new. I may have heard about it earlier this year. It seems to be open into the fall, on weekends, so I'll try to get there -- the northern city of Voghera -- and report. Meanwhile we can all visit the website -- www.cowboys.it (am having trouble posting the link....).
(Czech band Relief performing in 2007. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber.)
There are DOZENS of bluegrass and country music festivals, big and small, in the Czech Republic and Slovakia each year....the two Czech festivals I attended last month in the towns of Frydek Mistek and Chotebor were on the small or smallish side.
A more major festival, whose line up looks great, is coming up next month in Bratislava, the Slovak capital.
The third Bratislava Bluegrass Fest will feature top Czech and Slovak artists such as Monogram, Garcia, Peter Dula, Relief, Alan Mikusek, etc etc etc.
The web site includes clips of songs from each artist.
I've been lax about posting -- I still am transcribing the interview I did with Tony Trischka last month, which I hope to post soon. Meanwhile, here's a (blurry) video clip I shot of Tony and DT performing Nashville Rag in Frydek Mistek.
For several years I've been exploring the imaginary wild west in contemporary Europe -- observing and experiencing the many ways that Europeans embrace the mythology of the American Frontier to enhance, imbue or create their own identities. (Or, indeed, just have fun.) On this blog I will post pictures, stories and links relating to this multi-faceted subculture, from European country music to rodeos, theme parks, round-ups and saloons....
I'm an American writer, photographer, and public speaker long based in Europe. I've chronicled Jewish cultural developments and other contemporary European Jewish issues for more than 20 years. My latest books are "National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe," published in 2007, and "Letters from Europe (and Elsewhere)," published in 2008.
I also am working on "Sturm, Twang and Sauerkraut Cowboys: Imaginary Wild Wests in Contemporary Europe," an exploration of the American West in the European imagination for which I won a 2006 Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEH summer stipend grant.