Come visit Bandera this Labor Day weekend, when the Cowboy Capital of the World becomes transformed into a magical time machine to celebrate Bandera’s 159th birthday! This event, called Celebrate Bandera, turns back the clock on the pages of history to the mid to late 19th century. This small, classic, Old-West town, with its honky-tonks, cowboy culture, surrounding dude ranches, and horse-friendly hitching posts, will have cattle drives, rodeo skills, Native American Indians, and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show for the weekend.
The Cowboy Capital of the World, otherwise known as Bandera, is just northwest of San Antonio in the heart of the Hill Country. Bandera has long been known for its cowboy culture-- the culture which makes it a tourist destination and one of the poster towns for Texas tourism. Bandera has Old West Charm, where many of the locals still live the cowboy way: tipping their cowboy hats to the ladies, riding horses and buggies to town, and watering troughs outside the merchants. Bandera doesn’t just celebrate the cowboy way of life... Bandera LIVES it.
Bandera was one of the major staging areas for thousands upon thousands of herds of longhorn cattle (over SIX MILLION) that were driven up the Great Western Trail to cattle markets in Nebraska and Kansas in the late 1800s. The Celebrate Bandera event remembers and honors those cowboys who give us such a rich heritage. The signature event of Celebrate Bandera is “Wanna be a Cowboy?” That’s right... you can be a cowboy in Bandera!
Celebrate Bandera comes complete with Cowboys and Indians! The event starts on Thursday and Friday evenings at Mansfield Park for some really fast action by the Cowboy Capital Mounted Shooters as they ride in high-speed horse competitions. These cowboys and cowgirls will be galloping on their highly-trained horse companions through different target stages and courses and shooting ten hostile balloon targets. These riders will be shooting real single-action six shooters and lever-action or repeating rifles. Don’t worry though- all the bullets stay at home... these are blanks!
Saturday begins with the Longhorn Cattle Drive up Main Street. Next, comes the Celebrate Bandera Annual Parade, with more cowboys and horses than you can even imagine. If you stick around, you can visit the arts and crafts that are set up on the Courthouse lawn. Saturday and Sunday, there will be all kinds of cowboys on Main Street. Brazos Bottom Cowographers and the Bandera Cattle Company will perform, and don’t miss the Mutton Bustin’ with daring riders who are no older than 5 years old! Then mooove on back to Mansfield Park Saturday evening for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, where you can go back to the Old West. Complete with stagecoach attacks, World-Champion gun twirler, Pistol Packin’ Paula, World Champion Trick Roper Kevin Fitzpatrick;and a reenactment of the battle of Bandera Pass , this show has it all! After this event is the “Hottest Eight Seconds of the Year” at the National Professional Bull Rider’s Challenge, which features announcer Donny Gay, eight-time World Champion Bull Rider. As Saturday evening rolls on, you can take your pick of music venues featuring great country swing in the “Kings of Western Swing” Concert Series. Grab your partner and two-step through town!
You can’t have the Cowboys without the Indians, and Celebrate Bandera proudly presents the Circle of Life Inter-tribal Pow Wow, which includes Native American dancers from all over the country. Schools can attend during the day on Friday and then it’s open to the public on Friday evening. Some featured events are dance competitions, exhibition performances by an internationally-known Hoop Dancer, Lyndon Alec, and Eagle Dancer, Andrew M. De Luna. At the Pow Wow, you can visit the camps of Buffalo Soldiers, Mountain Men, and the San Antonio Living History Association. Pow Wows have always been an integral part of Native American history, and this year we will “Honor Our Creator” by gathering together and celebrating our nation’s multicultural legacy. The Circle of Life Pow Wow is a place to enjoy the company of old friends. Maybe you’ll even meet some new ones!
On Sunday morning, we gather at the rodeo grounds for a Cowboy Breakfast offered by the Western Heritage Cowboy Church, followed by some great preaching and cowboy gospel music. The Courthouse will also have gospel music, and the Arts and Craft Show and a lot more of the Brazos Bottom Cowographers and the Bandera Cattle Company will be there too. Don’t forget to go back to the Circle of Life Pow Wow and the finals of the National Professional Bull Rider’s Challenge and another round of great music at the “Kings of Western Swing” Concert Series.
Celebrate Bandera is all about Cowboys and Indians – come live it with us. For event schedules and ticket information, go to www.celebratebandera.com, or call 830-796-4447.