“Where does that accent come from?” my youngest daughter asked. “You only get it this time of year.” I had to laugh, because she was right. I had shifted into a slow drawl, stretching out my words and adding a few more “y’alls” to my vocabulary. For the one blissful week that Santa Clarita turns back into a cowtown and people who really know what latigo and spurs are for come to visit, I tend to sound like I’d just put the herd into the pen in time to ring the dinner triangle. Which was really what I was waiting for, by the way. There’s something magical about a chuckwagon rolling in, setting up a little camp and producing a delicious meal for 180 people. Try that in the mall. Ain’t gonna happen. But Thursday night at Heritage Junction, you’d have thought we were hosting a family reunion where everybody got along. Yes, I think somewhere in another life, I was a cowgirl, and every year, the city of Santa Clarita lets me pretend she’s still alive and well.. I remember the beginning, 14 years ago, when it was suggested we give Elko, Nev., a run for its money and throw a Cowboy Poetry Festival. We do have a western heritage, cows did run around the area of Newhall, both herded by caballeros and run by people like Tom Mix and William S. Hart for their movies. In fact, it was Hart who established the most important Western anchor in downtown with his hilltop home. I admit to being one of the skeptics back in 1994. I’d never heard of cowboy poetry and couldn’t believe we were going to spend money to put on an event I thought would only last a year or two. I think Mother Nature decided people like me needed a little convincing, because that was the year of the Northridge Earthquake, which rendered the festival’s original site, Hart High School, unusable. A few years before, longtime residents and Newhall’s own reel cowboys, Andre and Renaud Veluzat, had purchased and restored Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch. They stepped forward and offered the ranch as an alternative location. Let’s just say the crowds went wild. Our visitors and the townfolk who ventured into Placerita Canyon for a step back in time were thrilled to visit the historic ranch and be entertained. Maybe a few reminders from Autry’s “Cowboy Code of Honor,” written long ago, would change things for the better in how we treat one another, for example: “A cowboy never betrays a trust, never goes back on his word.” Nothing wrong with that, right? Now if you’ll pardon me, I have to get my hat and head out to the ranch. To post your own stories and photos, log on to valleynews.com.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!