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City of Bandera Posse, making it 'official'

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Bandera City Council unanimously designated the Bandera Posse as the official City of Bandera Posse during a special meeting on Thursday, August 23, paving the way for this congenial group to be goodwill ambassadors for the municipality.

"We already put them to work this afternoon welcoming the Polish visitors," noted Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Schumacher.

Event coordinator Genie Strickland, who spoke on behalf of the group for the official designation, said, "This is a great group to endorse."

For years, personnel with the Bandera County Chamber of Commerce, Bandera Business Association and the Bandera County Convention and Visitors Bureau racked their brains for a float or entry to represent Bandera at events throughout the Hill Country.

"Since we don't have a queen's court like lots of towns, we came up with the idea of a posse," Strickland explained.

The idea was a winner - literally.

The Bandera Posse took a First Place in the Gillespie County Fair Parade in Fredericksburg on Thursday, August 23. "This is just the latest in a long list of first place awards the posse has won for their appearances," Strickland said.

The group's awards are showcased at the 11th Street Cowboy Bar, 307 11th Street.

According to Strickland, the Bandera Posse first started in 2004 during the Celebrate Bandera event honoring the 150th anniversary of the City of Bandera. "What better way to represent the Cowboy Capital of the World than by a posse?" she asked.

The posse added to the town's western persona by riding in the parade, handing out programs and even acting as quasi guides for weekend's influx of tourists.

Since then, they have given western welcomes to foreign visitors and dignitaries, including a 2006 visit to Bandera by Gov. Rick Perry; provided cowboy backdrops for historical marker dedications; led the funeral cortege of Rudy Robbins down Main Street; and carried flags for grand entries at Mansfield Park for Bandera's National Day of the American Cowboy celebrations.

"Since first participating in Celebrate Bandera, posse members have been a part of the event's steering committee," Strickland continued. "We are so pleased that they have been named official ambassadors of Bandera. This designation will make their appearances outside of Bandera even more special."

Original members of the posse include Carl "Butch" Keller, Pete Jones and Donnie Evans. Headed by Ray King and Carl Keller, other members include Carl Keller Jr., Jessi Lauppe, Gloria Douglas, Joe Mike Johnson, Julie Elise, Karen Lucia, Ginger King, Lawrence Lucia, Lisa McMullen, Patrick McMullen, Melissa Lauppe, Brett Poe, Annita Poe, Annette Keller, Glenna Dethrow, Paul Garrison, Nancy Keller and Doug Lauppe. Members range in age from 13 to 75 years.

Sponsored by the BBA, Chamber and CVB, the posse represents Bandera at events across the Lone Star State - not just in the Hill Country, spreading the message that Bandera is indeed "The Cowboy Capital of the World." Local events and nonprofits contributed flags for posse members to carry in the parades. Additionally, the Bandera Regional Foundation has funded special embroidery for the group's matching western shirts, Strickland noted.

"The BBA and CVB also compensate the posse when they ride in approved parades that fit in with our marketing strategy," Strickland said. "However, a lot of the funding comes from the members' own pockets."

Not only do they invest their treasure, but also the time it takes to groom their horses, train for different activities and travel to out-of-town venues where participants are required to arrive at least two hours early for judging.

Currently, the group participates in five or six towns with more being added each year.

It is only natural that posse members become ambassadors for the City of Bandera, Strickland added. "They participate graciously in all events in the city when they are not representing our town in other parades and events."

So far, the group has assembled matching shirts, saddle blankets and horse leg wraps for their appearances. "Next we're going to work on matching cowboy hats," Strickland promised. "This good- looking group continues to make Bandera proud!"

The Courier congratulates the newly minted City of Bandera Posse - the area's latest goodwill ambassadors. When they pass by during the Celebrate Bandera Parade, kicking off at 11 am, up Main Street, give 'em a big "Yee-haw!