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Cowboy Capital ‘Celebrates Bandera’ for 15 years

Special to the Courier

1881 Western Photo
The 2016 edition of Celebrate Bandera includes a Native American Powwow, longhorn drive up Main Street, gunfights, fiddlers, vendors, a barbecue cook-off, muttin’ bustin’, mounted shooters, Buffalo soldiers, a rendevous, a parade and, of course, bullriding. The evenings of Saturday, Sept. 3, and Sunday, Sept. 4, the National Professional Bull Riders Challenge takes place at Mansfield Park, on Highway 16 North. Purchase tickets at the Bandera County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau or online at BrownPaperTickets.com.

Amazingly, the small town of Bandera is filled with visitors – especially during this coming weekend. Celebrate Bandera fwill mark its 15th anniversary and the sponsoring organization, the Bandera Community Foundation, will truly “celebrate” the Cowboy Capital of the World.
The event was inaugurated in 2003 to commemorate the town’s 150th anniversary. Since then, Celebrate Bandera has evolved into the largest countywide event held annually.
The area’s proud claim as the Cowboy Capital of the World did not just stem from its rodeo champions and local dude ranches – although Bandera proudly boasts plenty of both.
In the late 1800s, Bandera was one of the major staging areas for the seven to 10 million head of Longhorn cattle gathered from points south and driven to railheads north in Sedalia, Kansas, and Oglala, Nebraska. For over 20 years, cowboys wrangled herds up a feeder trail that linked to the famous Western Trail.
To honor this part of Bandera’s history, the Bandera Community Foundation chose a Longhorn Cattle Drive to lead the Celebrate Bandera Parade for the 150th anniversary. This year, another longhorn drive will kick off Celebrate Bandera’s 15th anniversary at 11 am, Saturday Sept. 3, up Main Street.
Gates for the Circle of Life Intertribal Powwow at Bandera City Park open at 4 pm, Friday, Sept. 2. The event features the largest gathering of Lipan Apaches and Comanche Indians since the late 1800s. Indigenous to Bandera County, both tribes played important parts in the history of this area.
Friday night Powwow events include Gourd Dancing, the crowning of a new princess and the Grand Entry at 7 pm. Admission is just $5.
Also, Friday evening brings free events at Mansfield Park that exemplify the history of cowboys in Bandera. These activities include muttin’ bustin’ for li’l buckaroos, an exhibition of Cowboy Mounted Shooting and a Ranch Rodeo that highlights skills of both cowboys and cowgirls as they compete in fun riding and ranch skills events.
Saturday morning at 9 am brings Cow Patty Bingo at Lowe’s Market parking lot on Main Street. A well-fed Longhorn drops a cow patty in a lucky numbered square, and the winner takes home $2,500. The event benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs of Bandera County and Triple H Equitherapy.
At 9 am on the lawn of the Bandera County Courthouse, vendors will sell their wares and Bandera Cattle Company Gunfighters will “shoot out the town” of Rattle Snake Ridge. Be sure to participate in the John Wayne Hat Toss – winner receives a 10-gallon hat.
At 10 am across the street, at Western Heritage Park, United Fiddlers will sizzle with some accomplished fiddlin’, followed by cowboy poetry and more great music!
At 11 am the Ranch Radio Group presents the Celebrate Bandera Longhorn Cattle Drive that makes its way up Main Street, followed by the Celebrate Bandera Parade.
Gates open at 1:30 pm at City Park for the Circle of Life Intertribal Powwow and the Rendezvous on the River. Rendezvous events include a complete circa 1800s camp, Buffalo Soldiers camp, chicken ropin’, storytelling, cowboy dress up, painted ponies, a “bucking bull” for little ‘uns and a Little Buckaroo Rodeo. Stroll through the Lone Star Barbecue Society’s Cook-off where a $10,000 payout guarantees great food. Admission is $5.
Saturday evening at Mansfield Park, Twig’s Grill presents the National Professional Bull Riders Challenge. For bull riding fans, this event is the best! Purchase tickets at the Bandera County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau or online at BrownPaperTickets.com.
Sunday morning, head back to City Park for a free Cowboy Breakfast provided by the Western Heritage Cowboy Church, beginning at 8:30 am followed by riverside cowboy church services.
The Circle of Life Intertribal Powwow and Rendezvous on the River begins at 11:30. Vendors will still be hawking their wares at the courthouse, along with gospel music by the Almost Patsy Cline Band.
Sunday evening, catch the finals at the Twig’s Grille’s National Professional Bull Rider’s Challenge, which will be followed by the Buddy’s Water Well and Septic Service South Texas Bull Fighters Challenge.
And this, ya’ll, is how the Cowboy Capital of the World “Celebrate(s) Bandera!” For more information, visit towww.CelebrateBandera.com.