Western street festival set for
By Jonathan Whitaker
Merced County Times
August 28, 2014
were the days, legend has it, when "The Balladeer"
would roam through the hot and dusty pathways
of 17th Street in Merced, reciting the ballads
of the heroes and villains of the day.
High noon would bring tales of the antics brought
on by the Evil Ruckus McGee, the sassy moves of
Strawberry Sherry, the no-nonsense wisdom of Hangin'
Judge Snelling and the quick draw hands of Marshal
Gulch Days," they called 'em — and
though some may have trembled in their boots —
Mercedians, by and large, loved every minute.
Well, thanks to this year's celebration of the
125th Anniversary of the City of Merced, those
Mercy Gulch Days are returning to Main Street
on the weekend of Sept. 12-14.
A wide variety of free events are planned for
all to enjoy, including live music, cowboy poetry,
Western gunfights in the streets, a chuck wagon
breakfast, arts & crafts demonstrations, carnival
magic, a morning Blue Devil Dash fun run, live
music from local bands, raffle prize competitions,
and silver dollar giveaways.
And of course those old time Western characters
will be in full dress, wandering the streets and
bringing color to the festivities.
Rumor has it that real-life Merced County Sheriff's
Sergeant Vern Warnke, might even reprise his 1990s
Marshal Rector Meaney.
There might even be a "Wild Whisker Contest"
for those into classic facial hair.
"People have been talking about bringing
this event back for forever it seems," says
Tig Bigler, an event coordinator and actor of
one of the original Mercy Gulch characters, Emersum
Bigguns, a.ka. The Balladeer.
"It was a tremendous event for the town,
and we hope to make it so again," Bigler
says, "Downtown merchants deserve this attention,
as do all the citizens of Merced County."
Mercy Gulch Days started back in the 1950s, as
a Wild West way to usher in the Merced County
Fair. Old timers remember a fancy parade downtown
that led to the fairgrounds.
The second incarnation of the event came in the
late 1980s when downtown Merced advocate Susie
Rossi helped bring it back with the help of a
Downtown Merchants Association. She and other
hardworking, business-minded people made the event
popular through the mid-1990s.
Early this year, when the city's 125th Anniversary
Committee — including City Councilman Mike
Murphy and Mary-Michal Rawling — was brainstorming
ideas of things to do, the words "Mercy Gulch"
came up many times.
"Neither of us were here back then,"
Murphy told volunteers at one point, "but
this thing exists in people's minds with legendary
The City of Merced is helping to sponsor the free
event, and they are getting some nice help from
community advocate Lori Gallo, Bobcat Brewery,
the Branding Iron, Cigar Monkey, Etch This...,
Save Mart, the Razzari family, Coffee Bandits,
KUBB Country, Radio Merced, Root Social Merced,
Most of the festivities will take place on Main
Street, between K and M streets, with live entertainment
at Bob Hart Square, on Friday and Saturday nights,
Sept. 12-13. Expect a full day of events on Saturday,
Sept. 12, and the Blue Devil Dash on Sunday, Sept.
14, morning, with things wrapping up around 4
for an official, full schedule of events in the
upcoming editions of the Merced County Times.
More Successful Programs
have completed 5 more successful programs to wrap
up 2014. Our thanks to Brett Harte, Los Banos,
Pittman, Central Catholic, and Chowchilla high
schools for asking us to participate in their
"Every 15 Minutes". We've provided accolated
services to high schools and universities on behalf
of the CHP for 88 programs in Central CA throughout
our 14 year involvement and never canceled one
due to equipment failure, wind or rain. We are
equiped to handle almost any inclement weather.
This gives us a unique perspective and more experience
than any other sound and special effects provider
you will find in the 6 county area we serve, (Merced,
Mariposa, MAdera, Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Calaveras).
We hope you will give us the opportunity to meet
with you regarding your next program. Please contact
us soon as the busy spring school schedule and
the high demand for our services can lead to date
conflict. We look forward to hearing from you.
PHOTO BY GEORGE MACDONALD
Tig Bigler, of Merced's Bigler Sound and Performance,
brings the party with him wherever his
customers wish thanks to his "Jambulance,"
a converted emergency vehicle.
DJ coming to the rescue of party-goers
New Year's Eve party would be complete without
black lights, rocking music and karaoke, according
to Tig Bigler of Bigler's Sound and Performance
in Merced. Bigler's business has been helping
parties stay hopping since 1983. Now, with a new
rig called the "Jambulance," Bigler
and his eight associates are ready to provide
several New Year's Eve parties with entertainment
AM begins new jazz format
"As far as I know we're the only mobile entertainment
company in the tri-county area," Bigler said.
"We do everything from intimate weddings
to large-scale events." But Bigler's company
is much more than just a disc jockey on wheels.
" Pretty much anything that has to do with
entertainment, we can do," he said.
And many of those things have been done on New
Year's Eve. Last year, Bigler and his crew were
hired for a wedding at the Merced County Fairgrounds.
"We made it snow as the guests arrived at
the Pavilion,"Bigler said. "By the end
of the night, there was about three inches of
snow on the dance floor." Bigler also put
on a huge Y2K party in Merced to bring in the
year 2000. At that event, Bigler said he set up
a huge LCD screen that counted down to the new
year, then shot off fireworks and confetti cannons
as the clock struck midnight.
"We have a reputation...people call us and
say 'Iheard you can make anything happen,'"
Bigler said. "And I don't think we've ever
let them down." Bigler will be able to do
even more now that he's added an ambulance-turned-mobile
entertainment center to his list of rigs. "We
call it the Jambulance," Bigler joked. "We
had a contest, some wanted to call it Frankenvan
or the Event Rescue Vehicle."
The old Merced ambulance has everything Bigler
and his crew will need to put on a small concert,
or run the sound for one of the many drunk driving
awareness programs he assists with at local high
schools called "Every 15 minutes." "It's
not complete yet," he said, but plans to
have the rig out on the road soon. "We look
forward to it."
DAILY AZTEC CONTRIBUTOR
Tuesday September 9, 1986
AZTEC PHOTO BY DAVID CARLSON
IN CONTROL - Alex Bigler, KCR AM program
director and disk jockey, pauses for a moment
at the turntable. KCR AM will begin a new
jazz format this week and will also broadcast
information about campus events.
the Associated Students Council decided to
fund KCR, the university's student-run radio
station, for 1986-87, the council made a stipulation
that KCR's AM programming be more mindful
of SDSU students. An A.S. ad hoc committee
was organized to recommend a way to insure
financial accountability from the station
due to history of failures by KCR management
in keeping pace with their income projections.
This week, KCR AM 55 will begin a new jazz
format. The station will be more dedicated
to providing information about campus events,
said Sue Drummet, KCR's general manager. The
A.S. committee has submitted three proposals
which are being reviewed and remain to be
approved by the A.S. Council, the University
Senate, and President Thomas B. Day to help
KCR manage its finances. The submitted proposals
include a Broadcast Authority charter, a KCR
constitution, and KCR bylaws.
The purpose of the Broadcast Authority charter
is to "define the administrative, financial,
and philosophical relationship between San
Diego State University and all student-operated
broadcasting," according to the charter.
The Broadcast Authority shall "govern
campus broadcast media" with "a
set of bylaws and operating procedures pertaining
to the editorial policies, fiscal management,
business operations and personnel practices
of the radio stations under its jurisdiction."
The charter established a guideline for the
membership eligibility of the Broadcast Authority
and discussed the Broadcast Authority's role
in administration procedures and business
"It shall be the duty of the Broadcast
Authority to manage responsibly the assets
of the radio stations under its jurisdiction,
including equipment and budgetary reserves,"
stated the charter. Since KCR's introduction
in 1969, the station has adhered to an alternative
music format. Unfortunately, according to
KCR management, alternative music hasn't fostered
a meaningful increase in student listenership.