Event recognizes National Day of the American CowboyWritten by Echo Renner
An estimated 350 people attended the celebration, including U.S. Senator Mike Enzi and his wife Diana.
Earlier this year Enzi sponsored a resolution in the U.S. Senate declaring July 25, 2009 as “National Day of the American Cowboy.” Governor Dave Freudenthal declared the same day “Wyoming Old Timer’s Day.” The Hyattville Old Timer’s Association, Guardians of the Range and the Ten Sleep – Hyattville Lion’s Club banded together to create a joint celebration for the occasions.
Participants enjoyed a day of free family fun with a picnic, street fair, kid’s games and activities, critter rides, lil’ buckaroo dummy roping, a worn-out cowboy boot contest and a street dance with a live band.
A cowboy parade added to the excitement, as did a kid’s Western coloring contest, a silent auction, raffles and a log branding. Local musicians, including the Karhu family, Hub Whitt, the Rannells, Larry Ilg, Mark Cheshier and Carol Blakeman provided live entertainment throughout the afternoon.
In the worn-out cowboy boot contest Michelle Smith of Newcastle triumphed in the women’s division, while Dennis Lee of Ten Sleep took the men’s division, each winning a $50 gift certificate for new boots. Emma Mercer of Hyattville won the people’s choice award for the most unique boots.
Bill Gould of Meeteetse won the Henry “Golden Boy” .22 Rifle and Connie Bicknell of Basin won the $500 gift certificate raffle to the stores of her choice. Both raffles were sponsored by the Guardians of the Range.
B. Joe Coy of Cody and Floyd Moore of Douglas were the high bidders for the Lightning C cattle brands the Guardians sold through sealed bids. Steve Jones of Meeteetse donated the brands.
The Guardians presented Historic Family Ranch Awards to seven ranches owned and operated by the same family for at least 100 years within the area the Guardians serve – the Big Horn Basin, Big Horn Mountains and surrounding communities. Recipients include the Mullins Family Ranch at Manderson, Clear Creek Ranch at Buffalo, Paint Rock Angus at Hyattville, Larsen Ranch at Meeteetse, 91 Ranch at Cody, Bennion Ranch at Meeteetse and the Diamond Tail Ranch at Shell.
During the picnic the Old Timer’s crowned the Old Timer’s King and Queen based on attendees who had lived in Wyoming the longest. The honors went to Curtis Larsen of Meeteetse (1916) and Martha Mercer of Hyattville (1918). Attendants included Eddie Dvarishkis (1920), Betty Cope (1924), Phyllis Strong (1924), Margarite Gregg (1927), Bob Black (1927), Marion Black (1929), Jerry Brown (1931), Rob Orchard (1932) and Odie Wilkensen (1935). Grace Carlson, age 101, rode in the parade but was unable to attend the picnic and therefore was not included in the royalty.
The Greer Ranch, Herman Ranch, Old Timer’s and Guardians of the Range provided the roast beef for the picnic at the Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site. The Paintrock Punchers 4-H Club served food and beverages downtown through the afternoon and evening.
The Guardians of the Range, Hyattville Old Timer’s Association and the Ten Sleep - Hyattville Lion’s Club sponsored the revelry. The Guardians are a non-profit organization dedicated to sound science and community partnership in public land management. They address grazing issues on behalf of grazing permit holders on the Shoshone and Bighorn National Forests, the Cody, Worland, Lander BLM resource management areas and their surrounding communities.
Guardians Executive Director Kathleen Jachowski says she is thrilled the Guardians could combine their Cowboy Day events with the Old Timer’s landmark celebration.
American Cowboy magazine launched the National Day of the American Cowboy campaign in 2004 to acknowledge and preserve the heritage, history and culture of America’s cowboys and cowgirls. The late U.S. Senator Craig Thomas sponsored the first NDAC resolution and the first NDAC celebration occurred July 23, 2005. President George W. Bush issued a statement of support for the resolution that same year. After Senator Thomas’ death in 2007, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi took over as the Senate sponsor in 2008 and 2009. The resolution will have to be reintroduced each year until it is officially designated a national day of observance by the President.
“The Hyattville community has reached a milestone – 100 years of celebrating the ranching heritage and the people that helped form the foundation for this great community,” comments Linda Hamilton, Old Timer’s President. “Great milestones like this one are a result of many years of dedication and a strong sense of community pride. We are proud that Governor Freudenthal recognized the importance of this celebration and declared July 25, 2009, as ‘Wyoming Old Timer’s Day.’”
Hyattville, a Western cow town at the base of the Big Horn Mountains, was founded in the 1880s and was originally known as Paintrock until 1886 when Sam W. Hyatt became its first postmaster. Asa Mercer, author of the highly controversial – and now highly sought after – book, The Banditti of the Plains, also made Hyattville his home.
Additional photographs from the celebration can be viewed at www.guardiansoftherange.org or www.hyattville.org.
Echo Renner is a field editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. For more information, contact Kathleen Jachowski, Guardians Executive Director at 307-587-3723 or Linda Hamilton, Old Timer’s Association President at 307-469-2272.