Country Western Celebrities Converge.
The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise | Wednesday, October 29, 1980.
The annual Western Celebrities luncheon which is sponsored by the SCV Chamber of Commerce was growing so popular that manager Jo Anne Darcy and president Bob Bardwell decided there would have to be a change.
That change involved converting the event from a luncheon to a dinner and holding the dinner at the Odyssey Restaurant in Mission Hills. This new format debuted last Thursday evening with the Chamber's special salute to entertainer Gene Bear; wild west show promoter Montie Montana Jr.; and the "Singing Cowboy" Jimmy Wakely.
Once again a star-studded line-up of cowboy entertainers filled the audience. This list included past recipients of the Chamber's lifetime membership awards: Iron Eyes Cody, Eddie Dean, and Cliffie Stone.
Also present were Linda Gray, Sand Canyon resident and star of "Dallas"; Herschel Witt, lead guitarist with the Bear Country Band; country Western song writer Wesley Tuttle; and red hot fiddler Harold Hensley.
Iron Eyes Cody provided the most memorable part of the evening when he stood to give the invocation, using words and sign language.
From there, the evening suffered its ups and downs. Most of the blame rested on a sound system which kept going off at key moments. (Part of the reason for this was the presence of a video-taping crew whose lighting system kept blowing the Odyssey fuse box).
It was most frustrating to have the beautiful voice of Eddie Dean, singing "San Antonio Rose," lost to the majority of the audience.
Emcee Don Hinson and Gene Bear followed the program schedule; and the presentations from the government representatives were brief and to the point; but somehow the program bogged down with the microphone problems aggravating the situation.
The honored guests added some bright spots to the evening when they accepted awards. Montie Montana Jr. ended his speech on  Wild West Show with this quip: "I'm sure glad (Supervisor) Ward made this presentation to me tonight because I just put in for my conditional use permit."
Jimmy Wakely added a tribute to his friend Gene Autry in his speech with included these words: "I always respected Gene, until he sold Willie Aikens." (Willie, a star in this year's World Series, played for Gene's baseball team, the California Angels.)
Emcee Gene Bear not only received awards from the Chamber and statesmen, but a special presentation from Iron Eyes Cody for being so involved in humanitarian pursuits — most specifically raising money for Hope Ranch and helping on National Indian Day.
The Chamber tried something new this year — and the move to larger quarters seemed to be a necessary step, but hopefully by next the Odyssey can work out the sound system bugs and serve a steak that isn't tough and cold! Our Country-Western celebrities and our ticket holders deserve better!