July 26th was the 10th annual celebration of National Day of the Cowboy, and to commemorate it, I did quite a little celebrating at Borderlands Brewing Company in downtown Tucson.
Here’s some background on the hoopla. Ten years ago, Bethany Braley from Prescott, AZ was working at a magazine when her boss asked her to make his pet project “Vote for a Cowboy Day” happen. First thing Bethany did was change the name to “National Day of the Cowboy.” Then she took of running, and she hasn’t stopped since.
The purpose of the day is to celebrate the contribution of the Cowboy and Cowgirl to America’s culture and heritage. In the words of former President Bush, as posted on the organization’s website, “We celebrate the Cowboy as a symbol of the grand history of the American West. The Cowboy’s love of the land and love of the country are examples for all Americans.”
I was raised a cowboy and loved being a cowboy, but I never thought of myself as an icon of the American West. Maybe that’s why I’m uncomfortable with a day dedicated to cowboys. When you work your career as a cowboy, the glamour points are few and far between. During spring and fall roundups, days start at three am, end 14 hours later and continue in that vein every day for a month. Talk about some long, hard dusty days. On the other hand, in true cowboy tradition, do I like to go to a bar, throw back a few brews, and tip my hat at a pretty girl that comes in? Hell, yes.
Our hoedown included a radio interview with Matt Russell of On the Menu Live! I talked about making beef jerky (a cowboy staple) and my cowboy friend and author Richard Collins, who wrote a wonderful book called Riding Behind the Padre: Horseback Views from Both Sides of the Border, talked about Father Kino introducing wheat in to the American diet. Every time you bite into a cheese crisp, thank Father Kino. We had a trivia contest and shared some cowboying and horse stories.
I hope the founders don’t try to tie the day to some lofty purpose, but keep it as a day of fun, and a happy day to look forward to, because for me, that’s exactly what it was. So mark your calendars now for the 11th annual celebration, July 26, 2015. We’ll tip a few at the bar.