Jul 13

Recipients excel as 2015 Cowboy Keepers

Hitchin' Up for a Dry Ride

Hitchin’ Up for a Dry Ride

Each year, as the National Day of the Cowboy approaches, members of the Board of Directors for the National Day of the Cowboy organization have the privilege of reviewing the many nominations submitted for its annual Cowboy Keeper Awards©. It is always an uplifting experience. The award is bestowed upon those who make a significant contribution to the preservation of cowboy culture and pioneer heritage. This year there were more nominations than ever, each one raising the bar for future nominees. Those selected to receive the award share, among other things, an impeccable character, a joyful work ethic, a broad range of talents and skills, a love for educating the public about cowboys, a sense of leadership, and a high degree of creativity. We are proud to name Sheila Carlson, Waddie Mitchell, Ernie Sites, David Stoecklein, Bud Young, and husband wife team, Lyman & Alaire Tenney, as our 2015 Cowboy Keeper Award recipients.



Sheila Carlson
Arizona cowgirl, Sheila Carlson, is a wonderful example of a hard-working person living “the Cowboy Way” every day. She has worked as a cowboy for over 15 years on ranches in Idaho, Nevada, Montana, and Arizona. About her day work she says, “I get to work with great freedom, and I love working with the cattle and my horses and cow dogs.” Besides being a hardworking ranch hand, she has a passion for photography. Still she has made time in her life to make a difference to many people and their families. As the founder and director of the non-profit “Cowfolks Care,” whose purpose is to provide financial and other types of assistance to members of the American ranching and agricultural community, her tireless efforts have helped raised vital funds for ranch people in need. She created the organization in 2013, simply because she saw individuals and families struggling with difficulties in their lives such as lost jobs or serious medical issues, and realized she could never do enough to help by herself. “I, like many others, did what I could to help out, but that just didn’t seem to be enough,” she reflects. In her mind, it felt right to find a better way and she knew it was a mission she wanted to start and to remain a part of. Through the effective use of social media she has been able to organize and offer successful online auctions and promote live events, raising thousands of dollars for those in need. Sheila has graciously built camaraderie with the nearly 8,000 involved people who now belong to “Cowfolks Care,” on Facebook, demonstrating that the cowboy way of helping others is alive and well. The non-profit’s entire staff consists of volunteer cattle women who utilize their individual skills to see that their mission is served. Sheila Carlson’s immediate and direct methods ensure that donations reach those who need them quickly. One hundred percent of funds raised go to designated recipients.

Cowboy Poetry’s Margo Metegrano observes, “Sheila Carlson is a “Keeper” in every sense of the word. Her selfless efforts have helped keep many individuals and families from the brink countless times. She has created and sustains a vibrant community of people who find fulfillment in helping others. Her work offers hope and comfort. Ms. Carlson exemplifies the right and the good that can be done in true cowboy style.”

Waddie Mitchell
Buckaroo Poet, Waddie Mitchell, is a true working cowboy who became a world class cowboy poet and storyteller. He has lived the cowboy life since the day he was born on the Horseshoe Ranch south of Elko, Nevada, and he continues to perpetuate everything that embodies the cowboy code. He spent most of his early days with the working cowboys, and at night, since they had no electricity on the ranch, he listened to their stories and poems. He dropped out of school at 16 to become a chuck wagon driver and a full time wrangler. He began writing poetry of his own and soon dreamed of an event that would allow cowboys young and old to share their stories and tales in verse with each other. In 1984, he realized that dream when he and his friend, Hal Cannon, brought the first National Cowboy Poetry Gathering to life in Elko. That first year, Waddie was taken by surprise when over 2,000 people came for the shows. The Cowboy Poetry Gathering has now been going and growing for over thirty years. Another milestone came in 1984, when Waddie recorded his first album of poetry at Cannon’s home. His second album sold over 10,000 copies. By 1988, he was the most well known cowboy poet in the world. In 1992, he was one of the first artists to record on Warner Brothers’ newly established Warner Western label with the album “Lone Driftin’ Rider.” Together he and colleague singer/songwriter, Don Edwards, embarked on an extensive promotional tour, performing at festivals, concert halls, schools and universities to sell the album and to educate audiences about their cowboy way of life. Mitchell released his second Warner album, Buckaroo Poet in 1994. In 1994, Waddie founded the Working Ranch Cowboys Association with a mission of creating scholarships and crisis funds for working cowboys and their families while showcasing the skill of everyday working cowboys. The WRCA now sanctions numerous rodeos throughout the West with a sold-out world championships held each November in Amarillo, TX. Once, when given the opportunity to perform his poetry on national television on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, he declined because he “had cows to feed.” When he finally appeared on Carson’s show, he was a big hit after reciting Wallace McCray’s famous poem “Reincarnation,” and he returned as a guest several times after that. He has also appeared on other programs, including Larry King’s radio show and a National Geographic special, as well as being featured in People, Life, New York Times, USA Today, Fortune, National Geographic, Wall Street Journal and the Official Program for Super Bowl XXX. Waddie Mitchell is known to be more concerned for the welfare of his animals than personal fame, and more sensitive of the feelings of fledgling poets than enforcing the rules of iambic pentameter. He participates every day in the preservation of the American Cowboy. He fights continually for agrarian rights and recently stood with his fellow ranchers in supporting the Grass Roots March to Washington DC. He has won numerous honors for his poetry and storytelling, and was inducted into the Cowboy Poets and Singers’ Hall of Fame. In 2011 he was inducted into the Nevada Writer’s Hall of Fame. He has performed internationally for audiences from Los Angeles to New York, Zurich to Melbourne, and most stops in between. Waddie Mitchell received the title of Adjunct Professor from the University of Wyoming. This honor was based on “real world credentials,” which Waddie Mitchell possesses in volumes.

Ernie Sites
A western entertainer and an experienced cowboy, Ernie Sites hails from southern Idaho. Among his many talents, he is a western performer, songwriter, cowboy poet, trick roper, bull rider, rodeo clown, bareback rider, team roper and a calf roper. He has traveled the world over, using his gifts to teach people about cowboys and the west. Western author, Corinne J. Brown, has dubbed Ernie “the urban cowboy troubadour.”

His lifelong friendship with a guitar began when he was finally big enough to hold onto one, practicing his licks in the back room of the local barbershop, where the barber also happened to be a musician. Well before he learned to sing, he began developing his love for literature and rhyme by creating his own poetry. Eventually, he did learn to sing and to yodel, a combination that led him to the recording studio, “singing the stories of the West.” He formed his first band when he was 15. He continued to work on his cowboy skills along with his music, including hours of working to emulate his hero, Will Rogers, in the arena of trick roping. As his entertainer’s career grew, he discovered the National Cowboy Gathering at Elko Nevada, and was delighted to find there were many others who like him, were dedicated to preserving the cowboy life through music, poetry and storytelling. Along the trail, he has performed with such luminaries as Riders in the Sky, Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, Gene Autry, and the Sons of the Pioneers. He has been a guest on CBS, PBS, TNN, the BBC, and Good Morning, America. Along with these accomplishments, he is also a playwright and has created a fun filled songbook for kids.

Ernie is proudest of his accomplishments working with young people in his cowboy workshops, where he incorporates traditional and original cowboy songs, western singing, songwriting, yodeling, and storytelling. He even encourages the children to try to master rope tricks themselves. He is openly proud of every student with whom he works, making sure their encounter with his cowboy culture and history is always a positive one. Ernie is often characterized by professionals in the education field as a gifted teacher, because he so skillfully and easily engages kids in the learning process while conveying his own sense of happiness to them at all times. During summers, he travels from Idaho to One Thousand Acres Ranch in Adirondack Park, one of the first dude ranches in New York. There he works his cowboy magic for all the guests, grown-ups and young buckaroos alike, who’ve come to the ranch from all over the world to immerse themselves in a great cowboy experience. Ernie makes sure they are never disappointed.

David Stoecklein
The late David Stoecklein is a world renowned photographer of the west. He was born in Pennsylvania, but lured to the American west at age 20, by dreams of unlimited hours of white powder skiing in Idaho. Indeed, he first gained recognition as a professional photographer with his work in the ski and outdoor photo industry, including shooting advertising images for high profile clients like Stetson, Chevrolet and Jeep. He eventually became a rancher himself, and was a very devoted family man, with a wife and three sons who continue to preserve and share his life’s legacy. Stoecklein is a highly acclaimed visual storyteller, who through his incredible images, documented the lives of his working ranch friends, neighbors and colleagues. He is considered to be the most sought after and recognized Western photographer of his time. More than anything else, he had a passion for documenting the west he loved, because he believed in the importance of preserving the real work of cowboys and cowgirls for future generations. He did that with unforgettable majestic sweeping images and with heart stopping, breathtaking detail. High profile magazines carried feature stories about David, and his photos appeared regularly in and on the covers of major western lifestyle publications such as Western Horseman, and, Cowboys & Indians Magazine.

Known for an intensely competitive streak, a big heart and a smile to match, Stoecklein was adamant that his photos had to be of real working cowboys and cowgirls. A self-taught photographer, he accepted nothing less than ‘the real deal,” which is why he became a working rancher himself. Of his life’s work in books (which have sold over a million copies) and photography spanning 43 years, he said, “My hope is that folks who don’t understand the Western lifestyle, will come to respect it, embrace it, and help preserve it.” His family has established the David Stoecklein Memorial & Educational Foundation to support literacy and education about western life through art, photography, scholarships, and publications. But his personal legend and legacy will live on through his body of award winning images, more than any other avenue. David Stoecklein’s remarkable photography seems to speak for his heart.

Alaire & Lyman Tenney
Lyman “C” Tenney, one of ten children, was born on his family’s cattle ranch near Willcox, Arizona. His wife, Alaire, born in El Paso, Texas, was the daughter of Quarter Horse Association founder and QHA Hall of Fame inductee, J.E. Browning. Together, Lyman and Alaire left a deep cowboy mark on the American Southwest and Australia.

Lyman started cowboying as soon as he could climb on a horse and spent 60 years in the saddle. At 15 he left home to cowboy on his own. “I wanted to see all the ranches I could and work for ‘em all.” In Arizona, he worked ranches from Big Chino to Ashfork, all the ranches on the Verde to Clarkdale, Cottonwood to Flagstaff, Mingus Mountain to Orme Ranch, Camp Verde to Dewey, Prescott to Crown King, down the Hassayampa and up Yarnell to Wickenburg. He worked cattle from Skull Valley to Williamson Valley, Cochise, Santa Cruz, and Pima Counties, the Graham, Winchester and Galiuros Mountains, the slopes of the Rincons, Whetstones, Huachucas, and more. He was a rodeo cowboy in the US, Australia and Tasmania, in saddle bronc, bareback and bull riding, and the timed events of steer roping, calf roping and team roping and a contestant at the Prescott Rodeo for 22 years straight. During July 4th weekend, in 1941, he drove to Prescott to enter the rodeo. There he met 18 year-old cowgirl, Alaire Browning. The next summer, they decided to marry, and wed the day after he won the Dewey Saddle Bronc money. Lyman went to work on the DK then the DuBois Ranch, until Alaire’s father bought the Bar HL south of Willcox. They worked the Bar HL from 1942 to 1951 when they bought the Muleshoe Ranch, selling it when drought forced them out. They moved to California, running 6,500 head of cattle in Imperial Valley. In 1963, Alaire, who was an expert cowhand, was badly injured when her horse tripped in a hole and rolled on her. She was unconscious for 77 hours. Recovery took far longer as she had to learn to walk again.

In 1966, Al Stansbury asked the Tenneys to run his ranch in Australia’s Northern Territory. Their accomplishments in Australia alone could fill volumes. On the Woollogorang “Station,” in Australia, they managed the largest cattle operation they had ever run – 2,225 square miles, 1,650,000 acres, 10,000 head of cattle. It was 500 miles to the nearest grocery store and the closest rail point. Cattle drives to the railhead took 11 weeks. Lyman soon arranged to haul cattle by semi, shortening the drive to 18 days. One day, Lyman and son, Todd, gave a team roping demonstration at the Mount Isa Rodeo. It soon became a popular and widespread rodeo event. Lyman has since been called the “Father of Australian Team Roping,” because he introduced it to the continent. Lyman and Alaire took part in an experimental program for Nelson Hunt, to domesticate water buffalo. Lyman helped form the CeeTeeGee Saddle Tree Company, making saddle trees for American-style roping saddles and hornless bronc riding saddles. They staged the first roping school in Australia and helped establish the first rodeo club, started the Western Performance Horse Club and the Sierra Bonita Roping Club, trained Quarter horses and taught western riding. In Aspley, they helped establish the Pine View Equestrian Center, became involved with the Australian Trail Horse Riders Association and helped establish the Australian National Riding Trail, said to be the longest continuous horse trail in the world. They gave seminars and clinics teaching American style horsemanship and horse training, cutting and reining, as well as rodeo riding skills. Within a decade, they held over 100 schools in Australia and Tasmania. They imported Quarter Horses, Appaloosas and Paints from the U.S. Lyman helped organize regional QHAs, and was a founding member of the Australian Quarter Mile Racing Association, a charter member of the National Cutting Horse Association of Australia, and organized and brought to fruition an NCHA Finals and Futurity. Alaire in turn, started the popular Ladies Cuttings in Australia. They formed the Western Australia Cutting Club. He was a co-founder of the Paint Horse Association of Australia. Their Paint horse, Joeleo, was one of the founding sires and National Champion of the PHA of Australia; the first horse inducted into the Australian PHA Hall of Fame. In 1971, Lyman produced the first American style rodeo in Brisbane. In 1973, at age 54, at the Roma Rodeo, he won 1st in calf roping and team roping and 2nd in steer roping, winning the All-Around Championship; the first time in Australian rodeo it was awarded to a contestant who only roped. In 1977, they formed the Albany Trail Riders Association. In 1979, Alaire was appointed head of the National Paint Horse Queen Committee, where she organized the Queen contest for the first NPHAA National Show.

In 1980, they returned to Arizona. 1986 found them managing the 87 square mile DG Ranch outside Wickenburg. In 1994 they retired in Willcox, then moved back to Prescott. Lyman was inducted into the Arizona Living Pioneer Hall of Fame. Alaire, who ranched, roped cattle; team roped, and taught roping and riding right beside her husband, passed away in 2008. Lyman passed in 2009. Few if any, men or women have cowboyed as extensively in the American Southwest as Lyman and Alaire Tenney, and no other husband and wife team has done more to proliferate the cowboy culture in Australia.

Bud Young
Coldwater, Mississippi’s Lawrence “Bud” Young, known to his friends as “Mr. Bud,” has for 59 years competed in rodeo, coached teams, instructed students and helped organize events throughout the southeastern United States. He has served as a judge for rodeo events and as an instructor for Lyle Sankey Rodeo Clinics. He is characterized as a master teacher and rodeo coach who has guided youth in the areas of competition and in the arena of life. Mr. Bud is known to all as a gentleman cowboy who treats his colleagues and friends with compassion and respect, and as a citizen and soldier who has served his nation with distinction.

Bud Young started his bull riding career in 1957 at age 12. He joined the International Professional Rodeo Association in 1964, where he is still an active member. He has also competed in the PRCA, CRA, URA and the Deep South Rodeo Association. Bud came to Northwest Community College in Senatobia, MS, in 1973 as an instructor in livestock management technology, starting the college’s first rodeo team that same year. Under his leadership, the Northwest team regularly earned awards in local, regional and national competition. His team members won championships in bareback riding, bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, and in the All-Around category. The longest tenured coach in Northwest’s athletic history before retiring in 2009, Young coached college rodeo for 36 years, was the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) facility director for 18 years and served two terms as its Facility President. Bud Young was inducted into the Northwest Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, and, was honored with the announcement of the Lawrence “Bud” Young Endowment Scholarship which benefits a student in the college rodeo program. Bud, whose name is synonymous with Northwest Mississippi Community College rodeo, was inducted into the Mississippi Community and Junior College Sports Hall of Fame in April 2013. He is the first rodeo competitor/coach to receive that honor in the State of Mississippi. Since retirement, Young has remained involved as arena manager of the Northwest Multipurpose Arena and is an adjunct faculty member teaching plant science. He continues to share his experience and expertise with high school students by conducting workshops and seminars, as well as working with youth in the Little Britches Rodeo Association.

Friend and fellow Mississippian, Rip Copeland, writes, “I’ve watched Bud instruct students in correct chute procedures, the fundamentals of riding, the proper way to greet a lady by removing your hat, and even the proper way to shake a man’s hand. In every aspect of his life, he exemplifies and embodies the Cowboy Code of Conduct embraced by the NDOC.”

Sheila Cottrell
Each year, a different artist or photographer generously donates an image to be used in the Cowboy Keeper Awards. This year’s spectacular image of a stagecoach stopped in Monument Valley, “Hitchin’ Up for a Dry Ride,” was created by Arizona artist and Cowgirl Up member, Sheila Cottrell.

The mission of National Day of the Cowboy non-profit organization is to contribute to the preservation of America’s cowboy culture and pioneer heritage so that the history and culture which the fourth Saturday in July honors, can be shared and perpetuated for the public good, through education, the arts, literature, celebrations, gatherings, rodeos, and other community activities. These Cowboy Keeper Award recipients personify that mission. Although there is not enough room in this piece to share completely the vast and illustrious accomplishments of each one, we recommend you delve further into  their stories for further inspiration.

Hats off to the cowboy.
by Bethany Braley



Jun 30

Rifleman NDOC Offer

The Rifleman – The Original Series

Special 2015 National Day of the Cowboy Rifleman Offer TheRifleman_DVDsSeason1_cvrfr

For a limited time — from July 20-25, 2015 — the authorized Collector Edition DVD boxed sets of The Rifleman will be available exclusively at The Rifleman official website at: www.therifleman.net/store.  Get $10 off of the DVD boxed set for Season 1 (regular price $69.95) or Season 2 (regular price $59.95). Be sure to apply the coupon code in the shopping cart before proceeding to checkout.

USE Coupon Code: NDC15 at checkout.

Levy-Gardner-Productions is pleased to present all 76 episodes of Seasons 1 and 2 of the iconic western TV series, “The Rifleman,” starring Chuck Connors as widowed rancher Lucas McCain, and Johnny Crawford as his young son, Mark McCain. The series has been digitally remastered on DVD, with media encoding for the first time ever. All 76 episodes are presented in their original televised sequence in two Collector Edition boxed sets for Seasons 1 (episodes 1-40 on 8 discs) and Season 2 (episodes 41-76 on 6 discs). The Collector Edition DVD sets are packaged in an illustrated folding tray pack that slides into a handsome slipcase, and each set includes a printed program booklet.   Season 3 is set for release in the fall of 2015. Stay tuned to the official website for updates: www.therifleman.net

The Rifleman is a classic western series set in the fictional town of North Fork, located in the New Mexico Territory. The show’s main themes focus on the strong bond between father and son as they confront the adventures and challenges of homesteading a ranch at the edge of the American frontier of the 1880s. Lucas McCain’s custom Winchester Rifle is the signature symbol of the series’ law and order message, with justice and a sense of fair play central to its guiding principles.

May 19

Texas takes the bill by the horns

In mid-May 2015, the Texas state legislature made Texas the tenth state to pass the National Day of the all ebay 018
Cowboy bill, following the lead of  Wyoming, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, Oregon,
Mississippi, Kansas, and Virginia.

Former Texas Senator, Jeff Wentworth, started the wagon rolling in Austin when he first sponsored and achieved passage of the NDOC resolution back on 2009. He sponsored the resolution and saw it pass again in 2011. It was sponsored in 2013 by Senator Donna Campbell, but remained a resolution. Then in 2014, at the urging of El Paso’s Bernie Sargent, Texas Representative Joe Pickett took up the cause to see the NDOC pass as a bill which would award permanent status to the National Day of the Cowboy in the Lone Star State.

In March, 2015, Cowboy/rodeo legends Larry Mahan and Bobby Steiner, Western Wishes founder, Donnalyn Quintana, Ron Whitten of Cavender’s Boot City, and Patrick Dudley from the Texas Department of Agriculture, all came to the House committee hearing in support of Pickett’s National Day of the Cowboy bill. It passed unanimously out of the committee (which we were told rarely happens) and subsequently went on to a full vote in the Texas House and Senate, sponsored in the Senate by Senator Craig Estes, passing in both branches. The bill is now on its way to Texas Governor all ebay 023Abbott for signing into law. No word yet on when the signing might take place, but we’ll give you a heads up if we know, so that those of you who want to be present for the signing will have an opportunity to do so.

If you live in one of the remaining 40 states yet to pass the NDOC bill, and you’d like to see it happen in your state, send an email to info at nationaldayofthecowboy.com, and we’ll help you get to work on it.

Become a supporting member today and help us keep this wagon rolling forward.

Hats off to the cowboy and cowgirl!
















The National Day of the Cowboy non-profit organization works to contribute to the preservation of America’s cowboy culture and pioneer heritage so that the history and culture which the National Day of the Cowboy bill honors, can be shared and perpetuated for the public good, through education, the arts, literature, celebrations, gatherings, rodeos, and other community activities.


Apr 28

2015 National Day of the Cowboy Hatch, “Reel Heroes”

We’ve been working since 2005 to secure official status for the 4th Saturday in July as the National  Day of the Cowboy; a day to celebrate cowboy culture and pioneer heritage.  Currently, ten states have passed our bill permanently into law (WY,CA, NM, AZ, OK, OR, MS, KS, VA and TX). One of our main sources of funding for this ongoing effort is our commemorative Hatch poster series. We began making these traditional Americana style posters in 2005, using Hatch’s vintage woodblock art and text, but in 2006, we decided to ask artists, each from a different state, for original art which could be carved into a plate for our posters alone. Our first artist was Jennifer M. Ward of AZ. Artists who followed were Teal Blake – TX 2007, Zane Mead – NM 2008, Christina Holmes – CA 2009, Jim Harrison – FL 2010, the late Jo Mora 2011, Jim Clements – KS 2012, Don Weller – UT 2013, and Tyler Crow – OK 2014. Each of these artists has their own unique talent and style and together they have created a remarkable body of art for this organization.

Here we are, up to 2015 and we’re excited to tell you our artist this year is Alex MacAskill from Halifax, Canada. Alex is our first artist hailing from an international community. And, although he was born and raised in Halifax, he’s now a graphic artist on the staff at Hatch Show Print. He’s familiar with our whole series and has created a poster that fits perfectly in the collection. The colors this year are light blue and golden tan. The theme is “Stand Tall with your Reel Heroes.”

We hope you’ll consider helping us with the cost of getting our 2015 poster produced, and also, that you’ll want to become a collector of all the other National Day of the Cowboy Hatch posters as well. These are all limited edition posters, still hand-printed and hand-cranked on a letterpress. Hatch has been making posters this same way since 1879. No one in our organization is paid, but we do have significant ongoing operating expenses and we still have 40 states to round up on this trail drive! You can help us continue through our GoFundMe project or simply send an email to orders at nationaldayofthecowboy.com and we’ll put you on the list to reserve your poster. Orders for hand-signed posters must be paid for in advance as we only offer 50 signed by the artist. We expect to have the finished posters in-house toward the middle of June.

A big thank you to your Western Belle, Barb Richhart, and to singer/songwriter/author, Jon Chandler, for starring in our GoFundMe video, shot at the famous Buckhorn Exchange in Denver, Colorado.

Mar 19

34 cents and a bit of fun!

We’d love to have your help the National Day of the Cowboy with a simple little media campaign. It will only cost you 34 cents, the price of a postcard stamp, to take part. Did you know cowboys Dusty and Lefty star in “The Lives of the Cowboys” segment every Saturday night on “A Prairie Home Companion” on National Public Radio? We’d like to ask you to send them a postcard telling them there is an official National Day of the Cowboy on the 4th Saturday every July. Add something like you hope as cowboys they will be proud to know that and that they’ll plan to celebrate the day. Maybe then if they decide to do something special, we’ll get to listen in on their conversation about it! Thanks so much for taking a moment to help us build awareness!

Please address your postcard to:
Dusty & Lefty, The Lives of the Cowboys
C/O Kathy Roach
Prairie Home Productions, LLC
611 Frontenac Place
St. Paul, MN 55104

Jan 07

Barb “Western Belle” Richhart joins National Day of the Cowboy Board

We’re proud to announce that Barb “Western Belle” Richhart has joined the National Day of the Cowboy 501c3 Board of Directors in the capacity of 2nd Vice-chairman.

Barb Richhart & B KSJDCowgirl Richhart, who hangs her hat in Mancos, Colorado, has been a longtime supporter of the NDOC, including on-air at KSJD Dry Land Radio, as an NDOC volunteer, as an NDOC member, and with her annual National Day of the Cowboy backyard fundraising concert.

From the moment the Western Belle first learned about the National Day of the Cowboy, she began asking, “What can I do to help’? She immediately took it upon herself to encourage her friends, especially her musical friends, to become members and to help spread the word about the NDOC project through their shows. She hosts an annual NDOC radio special each July and also holds an NDOC house concert on the National Day of the Cowboy, at which she raises funds to donate to the NDOC. Barb has traveled to many events to represent the NDOC and to volunteer to help. In 2014, she was one of the esteemed recipients of our annual Cowboy Keeper Awards.

Having known her for nine years now, I can attest to the fact that Barb Richhart dedicates her life fulltime, to preserving and protecting the culture of the West she loves. She is also constantly looking for new ways to interest people in supporting the NDOC and helping us achieve our goals. These are just some of the reasons our Vice-chairman, Jerry Betley, and I feel honored to have her join our Board of Directors today as our Second Vice-chairman. Together we expect to make tremendous progress in 2015 in further establishing the 4th Saturday in July as the National Day of the Cowboy.

Dec 15

Ruger Vaquero NDOC Benefit Raffle

Darrell Wyatt of the Powhatan Peacemakers cowboy fast draw organization in Amelia, Virginia, has launched a Ruger Vaquero
raffle to raise funds for

One-of-a-kind Ruger Vaquero.

One-of-a-kind Ruger Vaquero.

Amelia’s inaugural National Day of the Cowboy celebration next July. The funds are targeted (no pun intended (:>) to sponsor the NDOC Executive Director to be the Grand Marshal of their NDOC event; a greatl opportunity for us to engage broader support east of the Mississippi. The Powhatan Peacemakers are associated with the Cowboy Fast Draw Association of Fallon, Nevada.


Darrell is offering raffle tickets for a one-of-a-kind Ruger Vaquero. The barrel is custom engraved with the words, “National Day of the Cowboy 2015.” Also, the letters NDOC are on the gun butt and our NDOC logo is engraved down the back of the grip.

Only 100 tickets will be sold. Tickets are $20 each. Each person who buys a ticket (or tickets) will have their name written in a square/squares on an un-numbered grid of 100 squares. Once all of the tickets are sold, numbers will be drawn to assign to each square. So, for example, the number drawn for the square in the top right corner could be 77. Once all the numbers are randomly assigned, their local minister will draw the winning number from a cowboy hat containing the numbers 1-100.

As I understand it, a Ruger Vaquero typically retails for $650, so this is your chance to win a very special model for only $20 and to help out our cause at the same time. I’ve attached a photo of the actual piece for your reference.

To purchase your ticket or tickets, contact Darrell Wyatt by email melungeon99@gmail.com or give him a call at 804-337-5176. Tickets will go quickly and Darrell has already sold some to members of his cowboy fast draw organization.

It’s an honor to be invited to share in the Peacemakers’ Virginia celebration and I would like you to know too that the Amelia Town Council has already passed their resolution in support of officially recognizing the National Day of the Cowboy in 2015. Darrell is also working with his delegate to the VA legislature, Delegate Tommy Wright, in an effort to get the NDOC passed as a permanent bill in VA in 2015. Since VA is one of our original 13 colonies, Darrell is pushing to see Virginia become one of the first 13 states to pass the cowboy bill.

Thanks again for your support. We couldn’t keep the National Day of the Cowboy going without you.


Good luck in the drawing!

Oct 30

The Sweetheart of the Rodeo joins the National Day of the Cowboy

Legendary artist, Jo Mora’s iconic cowgirl image, The Sweetheart of the Rodeo, will grace a National Day of the Cowboy 2011 Hatch poster. That’s not a typo – it is indeed for the year 2011, the one year we had to skip in our series due to a lack of funds. Mora-sweetheart05

We were recently contacted by Peter Hiller, the trustee for Mora’s art estate, and asked if we would like to use a piece of Mora’s work for a poster in our collection. The Sweetheart has been a favorite of mine ever since I first saw her many years ago so of course, she’s the one I picked. Many of you will also recall seeing her on the cover of The Byrds’ 1968 seminal country-rock album, The Sweetheart of the Rodeo, which included Gram Parsons as the newest member of The Byrds, along with Chris Hillman, Roger McGuinn and Kevin Kelly. However, long before she graced the cover of The Byrds’ album, she was a focal point on another of Mora’s best known works, The Evolution of the Cowboy. 

Joseph Jacinto Mora (1878-1947) was born in Uruguay, but his family moved to New York when he was a small boy. He grew up in New York and New Jersey, including attending art school in the east, as well as working as an illustrator in the Boston area. But, as fate would have it, one day Buffalo Bill Cody came to town with his Wild West Show and Mora was forever after captivated by the lure and magic of the American west. He subsequently moved west, including spending time in Arizona living among the Hopi Indians. Living most of his later life in the Carmel and Pebble Beach area of California, he was recognized as a gifted and multi-talented artist in a wide range of mediums, including painting, sculpting, illustrating, map making, wood carving, writing and cartooning.

All of our NDOC commemorative posters, with the exception of the 2005, feature the artwork of a different artist from a different state. Each piece has a unique color scheme and a theme which supports the image in the artwork. Our growing list of talented artists contributing to this ongoing project include; Jennifer Ward of Arizona 2006, Texas artist, Teal Blake 2007, Zane Mead of New Mexico 2008, Christina Holmes 2009 California, Florida’s Jim Harrison 2010, Kansas artist Jim Clements 2012, Utah’s Don Weller in 2013, and the artwork of Oklahoma’s Tyler Crow is on our 10th Annual National Day of the Cowboy poster for 2014.

In recent years, we’ve asked the artist to sign a limited number of the posters that feature their art. We then offer those for purchase at an additional price. For the Jo Mora poster, we’ll be offering 50 of the posters numbered and including the official Jo Mora “estate stamp.” And, if you check out our GoFundMe project, you’ll see that we’re also extremely proud to offer five posters which will be hand-signed by former Byrd’s band member and cowboy, singer/songwriter/performer, Chris Hillman. 

The sale of our posters helps us keep the lights on the quest for a National Day of the Cowboy moving forward. Although we are an all-volunteer organization, our minimum annual operating expenses typically hover around $10,000. We meet those expenses through supporting members, donations, and the sale of NDOC promotional products such as belt buckles, flags, and these fantastic posters.

You can reserve a 2011 Hatch poster now by donating through our GoFundMe project or by sending an email to orders@natonaldayofthecowboy.com. Orders for the hand-signed and estate stamped posters must be paid for in advance. Due to Hatch’s current 12-week turnaround time on orders, these posters will not be in stock until mid-January 2015.


Jul 26

10th Annual National Day of the Cowboy sweeps the country

It’s been a big year for the National Day of the Cowboy as evidenced by the over 50 celebrations and events posted on our calendar with the tenth annual National Day of the Cowboys just hours away. With so many individuals, organizations and communities getting involved in these events, it’s clear more and more people are truly taking ownership of this heritage holiday and making it their own. There are many new events as well as annual festivities that have already become traditional for some communities. At Dodge City Days, the Governor of Kansas will be making history when he signs the National Day of the Cowboy bill as Grand Marshal of their NDOC parade. This signing officially makes Kansas the eighth state to award permanent status to the 4th Saturday in July as a day to celebrate cowboy culture and pioneer heritage.

Thanks to everyone who has supported this grassroots effort. Because of all of you, your NDOC purchases, your donations, your volunteer work, and your memberships, we’re able to keep the lights on and keep this growing year after year. We’re hoping next year to add at least five more states to the list of those which have passed it into permanent law. Getting it passed into law, protects it for future generations, but it’s your celebrating that gives it real meaning and substance so thanks to everyone who has taken the time to plan an event and to everyone who will be taking the time to attend one. Remember though, if you can’t get to a celebration, we hope you’ll plan one of your own!

Happy 10th Annual National Day of the Cowboy!

Jul 10

Four recognized with Cowboy Keeper Award® in 2014

Sunrise Chill

Sunrise Chill

With its annual Cowboy Keeper Award, the National Day of the Cowboy 501(c)3 organization has been recognizing individuals, organizations, and projects that have contributed significantly to the preservation of pioneer heritage and cowboy culture, since its founding in  2005. The four exemplary honorees selected by the NDOC Board of Directors to receive a 2014 Cowboy Keeper Award are Andy Nelson, Barb Richhart, Dodge City Kansas, and Earl W. Bascom. The beautiful image contributed for this year’s award, Sunrise Chill, is the work of world renowned photographer, Charles Phillips of Mariposa, California.

Wyoming’s Andy Nelson is a farrier, poet, award winning entertainer, author, sound engineer, humanitarian, rodeo announcer, humorist, emcee, and Cow Radio show host, who can “ride, rope and work cattle with the best of ‘em.” The weekly syndicated radio show, “Clear Out West (C.O.W.) Radio,” which Andy hosts with his brother Jim, is a leading source for contemporary and vintage cowboy poetry and music and cowboy lore and practices. Through his show, Andy works to promote the talents of others, especially nurturing young poets and musicians. He is aptly described by singer Brenn Hill as “cowboy all the way.” Nelson cares deeply about cowboy culture and is an active participant, living his life the cowboy way; always exhibiting diligence, generosity, integrity, and humility. He is devoted to his wife, children, and siblings, and is actively involved in their interests and lives.

Andy was born and raised in the Idaho town of Oakley, where he and his brother were taught the way of the cowboy by their father, Jim. They followed him all over the great basin learning how to shoe horses, and although they no longer shoe for a living, “they have had the farrier way of life forever branded on their hides.” Andy’s recent award-winning book, Riding with Jim, honors his father’s life, and as a second-generation farrier, he has passed those skills on to his children. Andy’s own poetry captures many of the issues facing today’s working West, often presented in a humorous way to help others understand and appreciate ranching and cowboy life. He does his part to preserve cowboy culture by volunteering his time and talents to help record the voices of cowboy poets who also tell the stories of today’s West. He has worked with many poets, including 93-year old Cowgirl Hall of Fame honoree Georgie Sicking, preserving their poetry in recordings. Andy has co-produced the past nine volumes of The BAR-D Roundup from the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry and has been known to travel at his own expense to collect recordings from poets and help projects come to fruition. Perhaps the most exemplary thing about Andy is he is often–and always quietly–doing something to help others, from taking part in a benefit, to raising money for those in need, supporting a friend, or helping with a project, from branding to building. You will however, rarely hear about those things from Andy himself. As Margo Metegrano, Editor of CowboyPoetry.com observes, “I doubt there is a single person who knows Andy Nelson who doesn’t admire him and consider him a friend. The cowboy code he lives by is an inspiration for all.”

Since 2007, Dodge City Kansas and the Dodge City Convention & Visitors Bureau have encouraged community efforts that focus on celebrating the National Day of the Cowboy. NDOC proclamations have been requested annually from the City Commission, Ford County Commission, and the state legislature. As a direct result of their work, Kansas’ NDOC bill will be signed into law by Governor Brownback July 26th, making Kansas the 8th state in history to pass the bill awarding permanent status to the 4th Saturday in July as the National Day of the Cowboy.

Community-wide activities that recognize the National Day of the Cowboy abound, including Dodge City Days Annual 10 Day Festival which coincides with the date for the National Day of the Cowboy. The festival parade features the Drover’s western welcome wagon displaying an NDOC banner on both sides, while NDOC banners also grace the 3-mile parade route. NDOC flags are flown at the CountyGovernmentCenter, BootHillMuseum, Santa Fe Depot, VisitorInformationCenter, and City Hall, as well as at numerous other prominent community buildings during the 10-day event. A 5-day PRCA rodeo takes place during the festival, showcasing the outstanding riding and roping skills of the cowboys and cowgirls and the NDOC flag is presented and acknowledged during each grand entry, flying over the rodeo arena throughout the performances, with NDOC banners gracing the fences. A country music concert is held on NDOC weekend and the cowboy day is recognized by the performers during the concert. The flag is flown during the concert too. In fact, Dodge City boasts the largest collection and display of NDOC flags of any community in the world.

Dodge City Public Library takes part in the activities with special programming and displays, including flying the National Day of the Cowboy flag, viewed by the over 500 people who stop by each day. Their entryway showcases a display based on a western theme or the theme for Dodge City Days. A highlight of the library’s cowboy presentation is their “Read ‘em Cowboy” Circle for the children, where stories are read, songs are sung and a cowboy related craft is created by all in attendance. A display at the library describing the NDOC program is set up for the festival. On the eve of the National Day of the Cowboy, celebrations are held at the Final Friday events at the Carnegie Center for the Arts and the Second Avenue Art Guild, commemorating the recognition and followed by the Boot Hill Museum Bull Fry and Bash.

From the statue of the cowboy on Boot Hill to longhorn steer watching on Wyatt Earp Boulevard, Dodge City recognizes the importance of the cowboy and promotes its heritage. The cowboy is alive year round there, but especially during the 10 Dodge City Days and on the National Day of the Cowboy. The people of Dodge City live the National Day of the Cowboy mission year-in and year-out

For Colorado cowgirl, Barb “Western Belle” Richhart, life began in the coalfields of Kentucky as the third of eleven children. The daughter of a coalminer, she lived a farm life until age thirteen. Then, in 1964, Barb’s family packed up and moved to Gunnison on the Western Slope of Colorado, where she quickly learned about real cowboys and wholeheartedly claimed the cowgirl lifestyle for own.

Barb married a cowboy/outfitter and happily transformed herself into a full-fledged, bonafide cowgirl, including riding, animal doctoring, camp cookie, and nurturing and mothering all the young cowboys and cowgirls that came her way. Due to her partner’s ill health, retirement from the outfitter’s life came early, leaving an opening for her to volunteer, so she joined the Colorado Cattle Women and Cowbelles, where she promoted interest in the issues of raising beef, the wise use of water, and good stewardship of the land, at every opportunity. She served as a Cowbelle officer and became more deeply involved as a recognized presence at fairs, schools, libraries, stock shows, conventions and meeting one-on-one with senators and congressmen, to raise awareness for numerous ranching industry challenges. In 2003, Richhart volunteered to DJ at KSJD Dry Land Community Radio in Cortez. When asked what type of music she wanted to play, “Cowboy Western” was her immediate reply. Her weekly 2-hour Sunday show, Cow Trails, was born and the Western Belle was on the air, stepping up to preserve the music, poetry and culture of the cowboy way. Monthly house concerts, including an annual National Day of the Cowboy fundraising concert, were soon added to her repertoire as one more avenue to share her love of the people, places, and heritage of the West. Barb Richhart now dedicates her life fulltime, (including volunteering for special projects with the National Day of the Cowboy organization), to preserving and protecting the rich culture of the West she loves.

The name and fame of the late rodeo champion, rancher, Hollywood actor, inventor, western painter, school teacher, sculptor, father, cowpuncher, trail driver, printmaker, wrangler, and blacksmith, Earl W. Bascom, continues to be recognized throughout the United States and Canada, as well as other international communities, for his unparalleled number of talents and accomplishments.

Earl Bascom (1906-1995) was born in a sod-roofed cabin on the Bascom 101 Ranch in Vernal, Utah.  In 1913, his father, John, who had cowboyed in Utah and Colorado, went to Alberta, Canada, securing a job as a foreman on the Knight Ranch. In 1914, the Bascom family loaded their belongings into a covered wagon, traveled a week to the nearest railroad and rode the train to Canada. After working for the Knight Ranches in Alberta, John Bascom, with the help of his sons, began ranching on his own using the Bar-B-3 brand. Raised in the ranching world in Canada, Earl portrayed his real life’s work cowboying and rodeoing across the American and Canadian West in his art. He has been dubbed the Cowboy of Cowboy Artists due to the vast range of those experiences, and the “Father of Modern Rodeo” for his numerous rodeo equipment inventions, including rodeo’s first one-hand bareback rigging (1924), its first reverse-opening side delivery bucking chute (1919), and its first hornless bronc saddle (1922). Earl and his brother, Weldon, also produced the first rodeo in Columbia, Mississippi – history’s first outdoor night rodeo under electric lights, and are known as the “Fathers of Mississippi Rodeo.”

As a rodeo pioneer, an all-around champion, an internationally known artist and a cowboy, Earl W. Bascom has been inducted into more halls of fame than any cowboy in the world – halls that include the Canadian Rodeo Hall of Fame, the Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, and recently, the UtahCowboy & WesternHeritageMuseum. He rodeoed from 1916 to 1940 in the rough stock events of saddle bronc riding, bareback riding and bull riding, and in timed events of steer decorating and steer wrestling. He was a rodeo announcer, a trick rider, and competed in the rodeo events of wild cow milking and wild horse racing. Bascom held memberships in the Cowboys Turtle Association, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Canadian Rodeo Cowboys Association, National Police Rodeo Association, and the National Old Timers Rodeo Association and is included in “Who’s Who in the World.” Although he dropped out of school at a young age, he attended college during the depression, financed by his rodeo earnings. His artistic gift for painting was recognized during those years and he soon moved into sculpturing.

Bascom was the first cowboy artist to be honored as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts of London, since its beginning in 1754. In the summer of 2005, the week-long Earl W. Bascom Memorial Rodeo was held in Berlin, Germany, where his cowboy art was exhibited by the European Rodeo Cowboys Association in recognition of his worldwide influence upon the sport of rodeo. It’s no wonder Judy Anderson, Co-Chair of the Utah Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, “Can’t think of anyone more worthy to be honored on the National Day of the Cowboy than the “Cowboy of Cowboy Artists” Earl W. Bascom.” Known as a humble man throughout his life, he passed away at 89, having lived in the days of the old west before the end of free-range ranching. The astonishing breadth of contributions, talents, skills, commitments, and participation in the preservation of cowboy culture by these four recipients of the 2014 Cowboy Keeper Award, is both encouraging and inspiring. Knowing that people and organizations of this quality, continue to this day, to work to preserve and promote this heritage, confirms that it has not, nor will it ever die.

We at the National Day of the Cowboy organization know we are privileged to recognize these four distinguished honorees, all of whom have demonstrated a heartfelt and effective commitment to the preservation of pioneer heritage and cowboy culture, and not just in America, but around the world as well. The National Day of the Cowboy is proud to take its hat off to each of these highly deserving recipients.

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