Bandera’s National Day of the Cowboy
LONG GONE are days of walking down a Main Street lined by hitching posts on either side. Knotted rope and wood have been replaced by charging stations and parking meters paid for via text message. With rapid progress comes the threat of not properly appreciating the past, and that’s why on July 23, 2016, Texas will officially recognize the National Day of the Cowboy (NDOC).
On May 12, 2015, Texas became the 10th state to deem the fourth Saturday of every July as NDOC, which is “just one way,” according to Rep. Joe Pickett, supporter of the resolution, “to sincerely recognize these cowboys and cowgirls who were self-sufficient and stood their ground when necessary to protect the people and animals they were responsible for.”
A short drive out of San Antonio, tucked away in the green hills of the Texas Hill Country, Bandera, Texas, also known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” celebrates the rich cowboy culture of the community year-round.
Every Saturday, March through December, Bandera presents Cowboys on Main, a taste of cowboy life, from 1–4 p.m. Chuck wagons are set up in front of the courthouse, a trick roper performs, and horse-drawn wagon tours remind visitors of another way of life. Most Saturdays, the Bandera Cattle Company Gunfighters perform skits providing history, comedy and gun safety in the backyard of the Bandera Visitors Center at noon and 2 p.m. If the wagon’s full, you can go on a self-guided historical walking tour of Bandera, which features 29 locations mostly situated on Main Street. These 29 sites include the oldest honky-tonk in Texas and the town’s Frontier Times Museum, built in 1933, which showcases why Bandera is the “Cowboy Capital of the World.”
To set NDOC apart from any other day in Bandera, the Frontier Times Museum will host an induction ceremony for its Texas Heroes Hall of Honor the Friday before. Rebecca Norton, the executive director of the museum, says the museum considers nominees, living and dead, who “embody the ways of Texas life: good, hardworking people who achieve success in their field.”Past recipients include J. Frank Dobie and Clay Conoly.
Visitors are offered food and music under the stars in return for a $20 donation, which will help fund an addition to the museum. What better way to pay tribute to the past than by recognizing the cowboys and cowgirls of today?