Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Mark Your Calendars: Peg Leg Liars Contest, March 2


Last updated 2/15/2024 at 12:15pm

The 2024 Pegleg Smith Liars’ Contest will be held on Saturday, March 2, at the American Legion Post 853 at 4515 Borrego Springs Road, Borrego Springs, California. It begins at dusk. The location is across from La Casa del Zorro.

This contest is the longest on-going story-telling contest in the West. Started by Academy Award Oscar winner and Hollywood art director Harry Oliver, the contest began informally in 1916 and formally in 1948. Give or take a few wars here and there, and Covid, it has been held every year to date, over 100 years to date.

And of course, there’s the fellowship of people who love the desert and its great history. There will be food and drink present for purchase, restrooms and outdoor seating. The event is always held out of doors by a campfire, under the starlight.

Pegleg Smith was a real person – mountain man, fur trapper, horse thief, trader, and tall-tale-teller extraordinaire. His real name was Thomas Long Smith and he was one of the first persons to cross into California – probably not far from where this event is – from the East. He was one of the most colorful characters of the West and even today, there is great debate over whether or not he actually discovered a gold mine and, if so, where that mine may be. Over 30 prospectors have perished since 1880’s searching for this mine and it is considered one of the great lost mine stores of the west.

The event is free and we not only want people to attend but we are looking for “Liars” to participate in the contest. Tales are limited to roughly 5 minutes. Judges select winners based on presentation, originality of story, costumes, and if Pegleg Smith is included in the presentation. All contestants receive a trophy and a certificate of participation. If enough youth show up, we will have a youth division.

C.A.C.T.I. (Committee to Accumulate Curious Tales of Incredibility)

– Diana Lindsay/Jim McKenna

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