During Howard Days 2008 and 2009, a group of film students from California who call themselves Goodspeed Productions made trips to Cross Plains to film Barbarian Days, a documentary on the event and the fans who attend each year.
The title of the film is actually an interesting amalgamation of “Howard Days” and the “Barbarian Festival,” both of which are held during the second weekend of June.
Howard Days was first held in June 1986 and became an annual event in 1999. It has grown steadily, drawing larger and larger crowds each year. Howard Days is sponsored by Project Pride, REHupa and the Robert E. Howard Foundation. Next year the event will be especially special as it will commentate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Cross Plains and the 25th anniversary of the very first Howard Days.
The Barbarian Festival originated in 1998 as a one-day fair/hunting festival hosted by Cross Plains each year during the month of September. Hunting season (depending on the critter) generally starts in most Texas counties during the month of September. Over the ensuing years, it became increasingly difficult for the town to plan and host both Howard Days and the Barbarian Festival, so in 2003 they decided to move the Festival to coincide with the second day (Saturday) of Howard Days. This allowed the Festival organizers to capitalize on the Howard Days attendees (especially non-Howard fans like spouses and children) who have time to spend at the festival to enjoy the food and various activities available. This support from the Howard fans and their families adds much needed dollars to the Festival’s bottom line.
The Festival runs from 10am–4pm on the second Saturday in June. Each year the event features a parade, food and craft booths, a classic automobile show that also features old timey tractors and a huge display of motorcycles, not to mention a hula-hoop contest, a petting zoo, and other types of family entertainment.
The four “heroes” of the film are Rusty Burke, Bill Cavalier, Mark Finn and Chris Gruber – all four are extensively interviewed and profiled. And a number of other recognizable Howard Heads are featured as well, along with footage of the various activities, panels and events surrounding both Howard Days and the Barbarian Festival. The trailer featured at the film’s website gives a good indication of what the film is all about. The filmmakers seem to have captured the essence of both Howard Days and its companion event, the Barbarian Festival.
Barbarian Days is just wrapping up post-production and the filmmakers hope to get it out on the film festival circuit later this year. The filmmakers are actively soliciting donations to help with the production costs and promotion of the film. This documentary is a good vehicle to spread the word about Robert E. Howard and the many followers he has worldwide. So please support the film and keep up with its progress at the website and on both Facebook and Twitter. With some luck and a lot of donations, Barbarian Days just might make it to Sundance, the mother of all film festivals and from there, hopefully, into theaters.