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Historic Folsom Welcomes Wild West Film Festival This Weekend

FOLSOM (CBS13) — The Wild West Film Festival rolls into historic Folsom this weekend with a lineup of locals who have turned cowboy life into a business.

Jerry Besptpich, 69, is a former world champion mounted shooter whose home on the range is in Elverta.

"They call me a professional wrangler," he said.

His love of horses started at age 18.

"Met a girl and she had a couple horses, and we took off," Besptpich said.

Within a few years, so did his career.

"Back in the '70s, I started working with a guy that did wagon trains and did movies and stunt work," Besptpich said.

He learned how to drive a team, handle a stagecoach and train horses for trail riding and motion picture work.

"I'm in the Screen Actors Guild as an actor and a stunt man," he said.

Besptpich trains actors on how to ride a horse and fall off of it.

"If you've done it enough, it's fairly safe," he said.

But falling isn't his favorite.

"I do not like accidental, unintentional dismounts," he said.

Besptpich's job as a professional wrangler is important.

"Because if the horse throws the actor and the actor breaks his arm, they say 'Everybody, let's go home, no work," he said. "I've been a wrangler for 30 westerns and we haven't had a wreck or incident."

Keeping productions in business has kept others like him in business.

"I fell into it, and it's been an absolutely wonderful experience," he said.

Dan Ditrich of Placerville also provides horses for wagon trains and carriage rides for the film industry.

"The history is totally amazing when you think of what the pioneers had to go through to get out here," Ditrich said.

Each was happy to provide a piece of history for Hollywood.

Besptpich doesn't know how long it'll last.

"They told me I was going to be out of work 20 years ago as a stuntman because of computer generation because they'll just computer generate the actor, but it hasn't happened yet," he said.

For now, this California cowboy will ride his success into the sunset.

The event kicks off at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Zittel Family Amphitheater.

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