Brannen to bring Wild West show to city#039;s GRITS Festival

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 25, 2004

Attendees of the Greenville GRITS Festival can savor a taste of the cowboy’s life next Saturday, Oct 30, when Bruce Brannen and his Wild West Show return to the city to perform in Confederate


Brannen, a popular performer at Oktoberfest for several years, will once again be entertaining the crowds with his homespun cowboy poetry and showing off his trick roping skills on his trusty steed, Smoke.

He will also be demonstrating the art of the bull whip and perform in an exciting western shoot-out.

Brannen is more than a performer; he’s the &uot;real deal&uot; who has been a cowboy all of his life, doing ranch work, riding colts and performing as a rodeo contestant.

It was the opportunity to do the trick roping number in Troy University’s production of &uot;The Will Rogers Follies&uot; that proved to be a life-changing experience for Brannen.

He says learning the skills of trick roping has been very difficult, requiring discipline and dedication, but says it’s all been worth it.

&uot;The opportunities that have come my way as a result have been wonderful. I get to play with ropes, whips and guns just like when I was a kid. That suits me just fine,&uot; Brannen says.

Brannen’s performance partner, Vernelle, is also his partner in life. The duo says they enjoy bringing the Wild West to the South.

&uot;My wife, Vernelle, and I get to perform at some really neat events and meet some terrific people while doing the things we love to do. It doesn’t get much better than this,&uot; he explains.

Music, magic and imagination

Other entertainment acts slated for the Greenville GRITS Festival include Gary Ledbetter, returning to the Camellia City once more to amaze and delight young and old alike with his magic skills.

Popular local bluegrass gospel band Southern Comfort, led by Lonnie McGough, will be on hand to perform its trademark sound, while up-and-coming singer-songwriter Matt Shepherd will also take the GRITS stage to perform next Saturday.

Kindergarten teacher Phyllis Clardy Wingard, and artist and Master Gardener Beverly Haney, better known as Mobile’s creative duo &uot;Imagine That!&uot; will return to the Camellia City for a second year with their smashing combination of storytelling, nature, art and theater, all set in a colorful tent.

&uot;Our main objective is having fun….along the way we try to educate, inspire and entertain our audiences to appreciate beauty, improve the environment and enhance the quality of life for the whole community,&uot; Wingard and Haney say.

Caricaturist Bill Jackson, always in demand, will also once again be on hand to transform local faces into clever cartoons. Children’s activities and games, a variety of unique arts and crafts and -of course – plenty of good ole southern grits and biscuits also will be offered up to GRITS Festival visitors.

There is no admission charge for the one-day event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in historic Confederate

Park. The Greenville GRITS Festival is sponsored by Greenville

Main Street

&uot;We are getting more excited every day about GRITS…we’re going to have a great time in Greenville,&uot; says Main Street Director Nancy Idland.

For more information, contact (334) 382-3474.