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Russian cowboys saddle up to show Wild West has come East

Published time: August 01, 2011 13:22
Edited time: August 01, 2011 21:01

Wild Western fest (image from

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A small town outside Moscow has become the perfect home for rangers from the Wild West, as cowboy-fans gather there for the annual festival.

Stetsons and feather head-dresses have made a rare appearance at an event that could be the perfect setting for a cowboy movie – the “Wild WestFestival” near the town of Mozhaisk, almost a hundred kilometers west of Moscow.

“I started organizing this festival together with a group of friends when we realized just how many Russians were interested in Wild West culture,” Evgeny Matozov, organiser of “Wild West Festival”, told RT. “People might say, ‘Right, he’s put on a hat and he thinks he’s a cowboy.’ But I truly am one! I breed horses, I ride every day, of course, I’m a cowboy.”

The Wild West headed east for the first time five years ago. The festival instantly proved such a hit that it has become an annual fixture. It shows just how many Russians enjoy playing cowboys and Indians, although for many of those who come here, this is no child’s play.

“I’ve made my costume myself, especially for this event,” Marina Govorko, a participant at the fest, told RT.

“Yes, we’ve been waiting for this for a whole year,” her friend Dmitry Muravyov added. “And what man didn’t want to be a cowboy as a child?”

Marina and Dmitry have traveled from Moscow but some Wild West fans have come from a little further afield – even from the land of the original cowboys.

“It’s pretty cool to see it here, in Russia. We just came back from the States where in Fort Worth we were in the Stock Yards and there was an Easter Egg hunt for the kids and a pets’ zoo. This is probably better. This is really cool, seriously,” Andrew and Alice Lapiga told RT.

To recreate the authentic Wild West spirit, everything’s there: canoes or bows and arrows. Although there are no violent shootouts, it is still a lot of fun.

Most of the horsemen are professional riders and stuntmen, so forget the good the bad and the ugly, they are all good at what they do, and even when it turned out to be a bumpy ride, no one was hurt.

At the festival everyone had a chance to get in the saddle, whether on a pony or a bucking bronco. Equestrian competitions were the order of the day, and even the hopefuls in the event’s modeling contest had to prove they could ride high.

Riding Western style is a whole different game though. It is not about high speed or elegant moves but rather precision, responsiveness and perfect teamwork between horse and rider. You can also try out what it feels like to be a cowboy working long hours in the saddle over rough terrain.