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About Us                                                      

The Western Film Preservation Society is a nonprofit organization established for the purpose of preserving and promoting the memories and ideals of western movies and classic television.
Each year, for more than twenty years, we have sponsored the Western Film Fair in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Every year a select group of invited guests who appeared in western feature films and television are honored for their contributions and dedication to the genre.

The Western Film Fair* is a Big three day event which attracts fans from all over the US and some international destinations. The format of our show consists of:

Daily screenings of more than 120 16mm movies and TV shows in four different screening rooms
A large dealers' memorabilia  room with approximately 100 tables,
Daily autograph sessions with the guest stars,
Daily panel discussions with the stars
A big Awards Night Banquet with live entertainment
Trivia contests
Nightly entertainment
Presentation of the Ernest Tubb Memorial Award
Come join us! Meet new friends! Share memories! And revisit the days of the Silver Screen Cowboys!

The Western Film Preservation Society, Inc.                                                   
Board of Directors & Officers

Wayne Short - Pres.
Graham Talbott - Vice Pres.
Tommy Hildreth - Secretary & Treasurer
Jerry Campbell
Buddy Bryant
Larry Reed
Bob Green
Clay Satcher
Bill Loving
George Coan
Steve Turner
Dave Godwin

Our History                                                  

History of
William C. Cline
July 1997

Western film festivals completed a quarter century of service in 1997 - twenty five years of providing a place for lovers of the series westerns and serials of their childhood to gather together and celebrate them.  They have also become events where old and new friends can meet and exchange stories and memories of their youth, while creating new memories and stories between themselves.  Along with seeing many of their best remembered and cherished movies, they have also been able to meet, in person, many of the people who made those films.  A debt of gratitude is owed to the pioneers of these events.

First formed in 1972, the first “Western Film Festival” was held at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, under the direction of its founders - Mitch Schaperkotter, Packy Smith, Wayne Lackey and Tommy Floyd.  The guest stars who were there to meet and greet the fans were Lash LaRue, Max Terhune, Don “Red” Barry, Sunset Carson and Russell Hayden.

The Film Festival, which was expected to last for only a few years, returned to Memphis two more times - in l973 and l974.  But it caught on with the fans, continued, and was transferred to Nashville, Tennessee in 1975 and 1976.  By this time, promoters were growing weary, and no show was held in 1977.

In 1978, promoted by veteran film collectors Harry Thomas and Harold Smith, it became known as “The Western Film Fair” and was conducted in St. Louis.  Many seasoned guests - like Marshall Reed, Rand Brooks, Jimmy Ellison, Don “Red” Barry, Yakima Canutt, James Brown, Kay Aldridge, Victor Jory, Joan Woodbury, Directors William Witney and Oliver Drake - to name a few - attended.

Back in Memphis, another group of interested fans began a show to celebrate movies of all types.  It later became “The Memphis Film Festival”, which is how we know it today.

In 1979, Harry Thomas indicated to the publisher of “The Big Reel”, Don Key, that he did not intend to produce another show in St. Louis, but would be willing to assist with it in another location.  Don called Wayne Short in Charlotte and suggested that it be brought to North Carolina and presented here.

At the next bimonthly gathering of Milo Holt’s Old Time Western Film Club in Siler City, North Carolina, a group of interested people met to hear Wayne’s description of the possibilities of producing it in North Carolina.  They voted to pursue bringing it to Charlotte.  Subsequently, a nonprofit corporation was created to produce it and was named  The Western Film Preservation Society.  Elected as President, Vice-president and Secretary-Treasurer were Wayne Short, Bob Thompson and Dick Dellinger, respectively.

The first edition of The Western Film Fair in North Carolina was held in 1980 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in uptown Charlotte.  As promised, Harry Thomas assisted by managing the Dealers’
Room; Bob Thompson acquired and scheduled  the films shown; and Larry Reed set up and supervised the Banquet.

The first years - 1980 through 1983 - were very successful, and the Western Film Fair became firmly entrenched in North Carolina.  During that time, a group  in Raleigh, North Carolina, spearheaded by Ron Butler and Edgar Wyatt, was established and  asked that they be permitted to host the event in 1984.  In addition to a very impressive array of motion picture guests, one of Raleigh's favorite western stars, Charles Starrett, attended and was named to be thereafter the honorary chairman of the Raleigh group.

Back in Charlotte for three more successful years, the Film Fair returned to Raleigh for 1989 and 1990.  Since then, it has been located in Charlotte, moving from the Radisson Plaza to the University Hilton Hotel in 1995.

Since the beginning of The Western Film Fair, many changes have taken place. There has been a change in how fans of old movies watch them.  At first, only 16 millimeter films could be found in the Dealers’ Room; now, in addition to film, there is a wide selection of movies on videotape.  The Western Film Fair started as a tribute to “B” westerns and serials of the movies and now celebrates “A” westerns and the ones found in television series as well.  As the availability of “B” western guests dwindled, promoters turned to TV and “A” western feature players for guest stars.  Now, projection screen television is used to show some of the old movies that are more easily obtained in that mode.  

In addition to North Carolina and Tennessee, over the years other film festivals and conventions have been staged in many locations throughout the United States.  Local or specialized events such as those honoring Buck Jones (in New York), Tom Mix (in Pennsylvania), Roy Rogers (in Portsmouth, Ohio) and Hopalong Cassidy (in Cambridge, Ohio) are well attended by local folks as well as fans from other states.

Others, covering a wide spectrum of western films, are held in Lone Pine, California; Tucson, Arizona; Atlanta, Georgia: Knoxville, Tennessee; Asheville, North Carolina; and Williamsburg, Virginia.  Some of the one-day events - in addition to the “Granddaddy of them all” in Siler City - take place in Hickory, North Carolina; Gaffney, South Carolina; and Wytheville, Virginia.

Many friendships have developed among people attending The Western Film Fair; and despite shows being downsized because of increasing costs, that camaraderie should continue.  What started a quarter of a century ago was anticipated to last only a few years, but is still going strong.  Only the fans who support The Western Film Fair can determine how long it will last.


 Since Bill Cline’s death in April 1998, The Western Film Fair has indeed continued with the loyal support of all its fans.  In 1998 and 1999, it was held at the Southpark Hyatt Hotel and returned to the University Place Hilton Hotel in 2000 & 2001, where it will be held again in 2002.

The Ernest Tubb Memorial  Award          

Throughout the history of western films, country/western music has played an important role in their success. In 1994 the Western Film Fair decided to honor this tradition by presenting an annual award to someone in the music field who has made major contributions through their work in movies, television, recordings, and personal appearances. It was our desire to name this award in memory of someone who had pioneered in all of these categories. It was decided that no one could fill the qualifications better than Hall of Famer and Country Music legend - Ernest Tubb. After discussions with Ernest's son, Justin Tubb, he was most happy that we had chosen to honor his father. Justin worked diligently to help select the honoree and attended the Western Film Fair every year to present the award until his untimely death in 1998. Since that time Johnny Western has assisted in the selection and presentation of the Ernest Tubb Memorial Award.

Past  Recipients:

Justin Tubb
Sheb Wooley
Patsy Montana
Stonewall Jackson
Johnny Western
 Don White
Hank Thompson
Tommy Overstreet
Geo. Hamilton IV
Freddie Hart

We look forward to presenting this award to many more worthy recipients in years to come.

*A subsidiary of The Western Film Preservation Society, Inc.
a nonprofit organization

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