Cowboy Christmas ropes in audience for dinner and a play

December 14, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

Not all of roper Andy Rotz's roping tricks in Antietam Recreation's Old-Fashioned Cowboy Christmas Dinner & Show could be considered old-fashioned.

For some he uses glow-in-the-dark ropes.

But at a recent show each trick pleased and impressed the crowd in a way that makes you wonder how he did it. Starting with riding up on stage atop his Arabian horse Idja, standing with one foot on the saddle and the other on the horse's back and spinning a lasso that grew large enough to encircle him and Idja.

He'd go on to jump through a lasso, while standing on Idja.

Rotz, 21, says his tricks don't work every time.

"The main thing is getting the horse to stand still," he said. He's had Idja since he was 11 years old and began doing roping tricks at age 12.

At that age, Andy Rotz had lassoed people when playing around. Then Lee Homoki, a traveling evangelist who did cowboy roping tricks, came to the family's summer day camp at Antietam Recreation south of Hagerstown and taught the young cowboy fan some tricks.


Every year Homoki has returned to teach Rotz something new.

Rotz's show is the centerpiece of an old-fashioned tale, "The Christmas Miracle at Eagle Ridge" with characters reminiscent of Tiny Tim from "A Christmas Carol" and "Little House on the Prairie's" Harriet Oleson.

Rotz also does bullwhip and knife tricks.

The script was written by Susanna Allen, who works at Antietam Recreation, says Rotz's mother, Mary Rotz. Mary and Bob Rotz own the 32-acre Antietam Recreation.

The production is a family affair with three of Andy Rotz's siblings performing, including younger brother Billy, 14, playing the incompetent sidekick to a vengeful bounty hunter.

The bounty hunter, played by Clear Spring High School history teacher Jim Hutson, isn't the only man bent on vengeance. As a morality play, "Christmas Miracle" addresses these feelings and faith in Christ.

Andy Rotz plays himself as a roper brought to town to raise funds for a crippled boy.

Rotz is in "Guinness World Records 2005" for doing 11,123 consecutive Texas skips, where he spins a vertical rope loop and jumps back and forth through it. He did it in three hours and 10 minutes on March 11, 2003, in Las Vegas.

The show also includes some songs.

The play follows a dinner of barbecue beef, baked potato, corn bread, barbecue baked beans, applesauce, carrot cake and beverage including spiced cider.

Before dinner, there is a hayride, marshmallow roast, a live nativity, petting zoo and square-dancing.

In addition to being in its 30th year as a day camp in the summer, Antietam Recreation hosts school and home-schooled groups for activities such as canoeing and horseback riding, and puts on Wild West shows in the winter and summer.

If you go ...

WHAT: Old-Fashioned Cowboy Christmas Dinner & Show

WHEN: 6 to 9:30 p.m. today and Fridays and Saturdays through Saturday, Dec. 30, except for Saturday, Dec. 16.

WHERE: Antietam Recreation, 9745 Garis Shop Road, south of Hagerstown

COST: $24 for ages 13 and older; $22 for ages 60 and older; and $18 for ages 4 to 12.

DIRECTIONS: From Hagerstown, take Md. 65 south of Hagerstown. Turn left on Wagaman Road (just past Food Lion). Follow Wagaman Road to the first stop sign. Turn right on Garis Shop Road. Antietam Recreation will be about one-quarter mile on the left.

MORE: For more information, call 301-797-3733, e-mail or go to

'The Christmas Miracle at Eagle Ridge' cast

·Andy Rotz as himself

·Mark Sandell as Sheriff Luke

·Katie Bryson as Elizabeth Cooper

·Jim Hutson as Jim Harper

·Scott Long and Hunter Hartman as Billy

·Billy Rotz as Butch

·Dave Long as Wilbur Crabshaw

·Janice Hose as Matilda Crabshaw

·Tim Rotz as Jake Swain

·Jessica Rotz as Miss Sarah

·Jim McMahon as Kid Curry

·Cindy Delauder as Laura Harper

·Johnna Stoup as Emma Cooper

·Scott Long and Hunter Hartman as Matthew Cooper

·Sean Chapelle as Kid Curry's right-hand outlaw

·Keith Sandell, Nick Montoya, Kevin Sandell and Brian Sandell as additional outlaws

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