The Lone Ranger Festival: Who Was That Masked Man?

 The Lone Ranger Festival: Who Was That Masked Man?

One of the great things about RV travel in the summertime is pretty much no matter where you are in North America, you’re within an easy drive of a festival of some sort. And the good ones, more often than not, are in small towns. Such was the case this weekend for Jennifer and me as we made our way to Oxford, MI and the annual Lone Ranger Festival.

A Johnny Depp-inspired Tonto
A Johnny Depp-inspired Tonto

Located about 40 miles north of Detroit, Oxford is a village of 3,400 whose big claim to fame is that is the hometown of Brace Beemer, the radio actor who played the Lone Ranger on radio from 1941-1953. In all, Beemer portrayed the old-West lawman in nearly 3,000 installments broadcast by 129 radio stations worldwide. He was the perfect cowboy hero, 6 feet 3 tall and blessed with a booming voice that demanded attention.

Local farmers brought their tractors to the parade in costume
Local farmers brought their tractors to the parade in costume

Oxford was proud of Beemer, who retired to a 300 acre horse ranch just outside of town and died in 1965. Rightly so. His personification of the ideal lawman persisted throughout the years, causing his voice to become almost synonymous with the very idea of The Lone Ranger. It was so familiar to fans of the original radio show that actor Clayton Moore imitated it for the television adaptation.

 

Lots of people wore the Lone Ranger's mask!
Lots of people wore the Lone Ranger’s mask!

So it’s only fitting that his hometown celebrate with a festival. On a perfect summer Saturday, the whole town and lots of visitors came for a parade, some amusements, an ice cream social at the local Methodist church and good old small town festival BBQ, kettle korn and snow cones, along with a dunk tank and lots of live music.

bracebeemer

Oxford is a place where the local high school band can unabashedly play “God Bless America” and the spectators along the parade route doff their hats, sing along and clap. It’s where farmers wash and shine up their tractors and drive them into town and Cub Scouts, the local beauty shop, a “yodeling Princess” and Main Street business leaders ride horses, scooters, unicycles, floats and old cars to wave at their neighbors.

Even little girls like the look
Even little girls like the look

And lots of folks wear Lone Ranger masks.

There were really three different forms of the Lone Ranger. The Bruce Beemer Radio Show. The old black and white Clayton More TV show of the 50’s and the 2013 Film starring Johnny Depp as Tonto and Arnie Hammer as the Masked Man.

The local dance group
The local dance group

We saw versions of all three in Oxford at the festival and throughly enjoyed ourselves

Hi Ho Silver and Away!

Here’s some more photos…

Lonerangerunicycle (1 of 1)

Lonerangerbigheads (1 of 1)

Lonerangerkidsinwagon (1 of 1)

Lonerangerbigegonsgrand (1 of 1)

Lonerangerkids2 (1 of 1)

Mike Wendland

Mike is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road. He enjoys camping (obviously), hiking, biking, fitness, photography, kayaking, video editing, and all things dealing with technology and the outdoors. See and subscribe to his RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube, where he has hundreds of RV and travel related videos. His PC MIke TV reports, on personal technology are distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations.