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National Day of the American Cowboy
A Tribute in the Cowboy Capital
| Bandera, Texas | July 2011

Working from sunup to sundown, taming the wilderness so that we could make our homes and build our lives, the American Cowboys are the pioneers who worked hard and persevered so that future generations might enjoy this great country of ours.

A resolution passed by United States Senate in 2005 began the tradition of celebrating our Western heritage and the pioneering spirit of the first cowboys, as well as those who carry on: ranchers, present-day cowboys, Western musicians and artists, cowboy poets, and the many others who contribute to the continuation of the Cowboy and Western culture.

In Texas, there is no other place that celebrates the spirit of the cowboy better than Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World.

A place where ranches abound and people still work from the time the sun comes up till it goes down, callused hands are a sign of determination and community is as important as family, Bandera’s salute to the American Cowboy is as real as it gets.

This July 22-23, join the Cowboy Capital as they step back in time, returning to the roots of the community, honoring the men and women who helped to build it.

Hosted by the Frontier Times Museum, the weekend kicks off with a preliminary qualifier for the South Texas Ranch Rodeo.

Ranch Rodeos were the precursors to the PRCA Rodeos and others. They were created to simulate the real work that cowboys did on ranches and began as a gathering for ranch families and were big social functions.

They began in the late 1800’s when Buffalo Bill invited cowboys from around the country to compete in ranching skills. Rumor has it a multitude showed up! Everyone had such a good time that Bill decided he would take the show on the road and share the history of the “Wild West”. Ranch Rodeos became a great opportunity to relax, visit with neighbors, and have some friendly competition. What can you expect at a Ranch Rodeo? A working cowboy’s everyday duties included riding, roping, branding, horse breaking, and the like, and these activities often served also as his pastime. In the spring, when various ranches cooperated in the roundup, men competed informally and would wager on the fastest roper or the best horse breaker. In Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, large ranches often encouraged “cowboy contests” in roping, riding, and horse breaking, and the sport of rodeo evolved from them in the late nineteenth century. Large ranches around the nation have continued the Ranch Rodeos and they have become highly competitive.

In 2008, the South Texas Ranch Rodeo Association was formed by area ranchers, veterinarians and cowboys. They decided to have the finals held in conjunction with the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. The South Texas Ranch Rodeo Finals (STRRF) is a 100% volunteer-run organization that raises funds to be given as scholarships to Texas youth with an emphasis on collegiate rodeo athletics. South Texas has a very rich ranching heritage and it is the association’s goal to promote that heritage by embracing the businesses that support ranching towns and furthering the education of students coming from ranching backgrounds. The Bandera Frontier Times Museum is honored to be considered a part of their team.

The purpose of the rodeo and skill of the cowboy have not changed the challenge; many cowboys still focus on mastering the individual skills and showcasing the ability to accomplish ranch tasks as a team just as it is done on the ranch. Modern day Ranch Rodeo is a return to those times of sharing and friendly competition, with events such as ‘Steer Doctoring’, ‘Calf Branding’, ‘Steer Loading’, ‘Wild Cow Milking’ and the ‘Cowboy Rescue Race’.

There will be events for the younger cowboys such as a gunfight and the CanCan Dance.

Saturday’s events will kick off at high noon with the induction of members into the Frontier Museum’s Texas Heroes Hall of Honor. Those inducted are chosen for their contributions, actions, and lifestyles that truly define the term “True Texan.” This year’s inductees include Kinky Friedman - author, humorist, and musician; Wyman Meinzer - the official Texas State Photographer; Louis M. Pearce, Jr. of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo; and World Champion Rodeo stars Toots Mansfield and Scooter Fries.

Opened in 1933, the Frontier Museum was started by J Marvin Hunter, as an outgrowth of his passion for collecting and sharing stories of pioneers.

Other events on the courthouse lawn will include Western Art & Crafts, Cowboy Music and Storytelling, Gunfighters, Trick Roping, and Kids’ activities throughout the day.

Throughout the weekend, the Cowboy General Store Market will be open, and there will be just about anything having to do with cowboys. Kids of all ages will excited; there will be cowboy dress up, stick horse races, storytellers, cowboy singers, trick ropers, and the ever-pretty saloon girls!

That evening, everybody will meet up over at Mansfield Park for the finals in the Ranch Rodeo, with more spectacular events, music and finally, the awards.

If you are a cowboy, Bandera is where you will feel at home. If you aren’t, it’s where you will be in awe. There is no place in Texas that celebrates the American Cowboy with as much gusto and reverence as this tiny Texas town.

More from the July 2011 issue More from Bandera, Texas
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The Texas Hill Country, sun splashed hills rolling into the distance, is home to historic towns bursting with character, personalities, and great things to do.
Looking for a fun weekend with festivals, fairs, shopping, food, sightseeing, and more? The Hill Country Current is full of articles, advertising and special events.
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Phone 830-598-6740 • Fax 830-833-4246
P.O. Box 429, 714 4th St. #102, Blanco, TX 78606-0429
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