Cowboy Day Saddles Up

Published 3:49 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2011

BUCKINGHAM ― You don't need a cowboy hat to get through the gate of the Historic Village at Lee Wayside on Saturday, but chances are you'll wish you had one. And, you'll probably want a pair of boots, too-with spurs.

Cowboys and cowgirls from near and far will converge on the Historic Village on July 23, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., to celebrate the American Cowboy. The daylong festival is held in conjunction with the National Day of the American Cowboy.

Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children. Free parking and continuous shuttle bus service will be available at nearby Buckingham County High School, located WEST of Sprouses Corner, off Route 60 on High School Road.

Hosted by Historic Buckingham Incorporated, the Chamber of Commerce, Tom Mix Rangers, and Sprouse's Corner Ranch, Cowboy Day is not only an annual fundraiser for the Historic Village but it's also a great day to honor one of our country's true heroes-the American Cowboy.

Schedule of Events

Gates open at 9 a.m., with music by Central Virginia Blue, a local bluegrass band. Then, at 10 a.m., the Cowboy Day Parade will usher in all the cowboys, cowgirls, and special guests.

James Drury, The Virginian, will serve as the grand marshal and this year's featured guest.

Drury played the nameless hero from Virginia on the popular series, which ran from 1962 through 1971. The line-up also includes Randy Boone, who was Randy Benton on the series from 1964 to 1966.

After entering the main gate, the parade will circle through the park and disband in the adjacent field.

From 10:30 to 11, the Tredegar Brass Band will perform. When the music stops, the Paso del Norte Pistoleros will take the spotlight for the first mock gunfight.

From 11:15 to 11:45, Roy “Spotted Eagle” Glass, a Grammy nominated Native American Flutist, will perform. Music will continue to flow with the light rock band Point Judith performing from 11:45 to 12:45.

Cowboys and cowgirls of all ages will want to be on hand at 12:45 to watch the Tom Mix Rangers in a mock gunfight.

Then, from 1 to 1:30 p.m., Native American Dancers from Silverheels House of Nations Ministry will perform.

Chief Steve Silverheels, son of Jay “Tonto” Silverheels from the Lone Ranger television series, will be back this year and will be accompanied by some Native American Dancers from his Silverheels House of Nations Ministry.

Randy Boone, of The Virginian, will perform on stage from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m.

At 2:15, it'll be time for another gunfight, this time featuring the Paso del Norte Pistoleros.

When the smoke clears, Herb Jefferies look-a-like Boyd Anderson will take center stage from 3 to 3:45 p.m., portraying the Singing Cowboy.

Tom Mix Rangers will close out the day with another mock gunfight, the grand finale, scheduled from 3:45 to 4 p.m.

Throughout the day, there will be Old West activities for kids of all ages.

At the Kids Corral, Sprouse's Corner Ranch will offer activities for the youngest cowboys and cowgirls. Arts and craft sessions for the kids will feature a western theme.

Demonstrations and exhibits will include blacksmithing, panning for gold, and an authentic chuck wagon. Vendors featuring cowboy-style merchandise will also be on hand.

During the day, members of the Old Dominion Fast Draw Club will be showing-off their skills and competing for trophies.

Instead of the Three R's, the old one-room schoolhouse will be focusing on helping people chill-out while they view old westerns, including episodes of The Virginian. Two other buildings will also offer air-conditioned respite.

A stop at the Village Post Office, staffed by personnel from the Buckingham and Dillwyn post offices, will offer hand-stamped cancellations of the souvenir Cowboy Day stamps.

Cold beverages and water, snow cones and frozen fruit will be available. And, kids will be able to enjoy a run through the sprinkler at the village's garden.

When the hunger pangs strike, what could be more appropriate for lunch than some slow cooked beef brisket and cowboy-style beans? Hot dogs and chips will also be on the menu.

Why Celebrate the Cowboy?

In 2004, after the magazine American Cowboy launched a campaign for a national day celebrating the American Cowboy, the idea of honoring and preserving America's cowboy heritage corralled enthusiastic response from across the nation.

Subsequently, the magazine's staff drafted a resolution calling for the National Day of the American Cowboy. The resolution encouraged people to recognize the cowboy and the cowgirl “for their enduring contribution to the courageous pioneering spirit of America.”

Within the year, Senator Craig Thomas, of Wyoming, successfully sponsored the resolution in the United States Senate; and, President George W. Bush issued a statement of his support offering, “We celebrate the cowboy as a symbol of the grand history of the American West.”

Now, the fourth Saturday in July is not only a fixture on the national calendar but also here in Buckingham.

Mitch Toney, of the Tom Mix Rangers, is credited with the idea of a Cowboy Day celebration in Buckingham.

In July 2005, Mitch, his dad Bob Toney, founder of the Tom Mix Rangers, and other members of the organization hauled their horses and cowboy gear to Pennsylvania to participate in one of the first National Day of the American Cowboy celebrations.

Sometime later, Mitch shared a copy of the September/October 2005 American Cowboy Magazine with Martha Louis, president of HBI. The issue featured a story on the National Day of the American Cowboy and highlighted the Tom Mix Rangers.

In true cowboy fashion, Mitch pitched the idea of having a Cowboy Day at the Historic Village.

“Everyone liked the idea and the planning began,” said Louis, emphasizing that it seemed like such a great fit for the County.

Subsequently, in July 2009, Historic Buckingham, Incorporated, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Tom Mix Rangers hosted Buckingham's first cowboy day celebration.

Now in its third year, Buckingham's Cowboy Day continues to evolve. The celebration is a great fundraiser for the Historic Village and a fun-filled day for cowboys and cowgirls of all ages.

However, for Mitch Toney, Cowboy Day is more than an annual event. “It is a way to pay tribute to my dad,” he shared.

Sure enough, if Buckingham had an official cowboy, it would probably be Bob Toney. Whenever area schools, civic organizations, or churches need his help, Captain Bob comes to the rescue.

Having a parade? Bob and the Rangers will be in the line-up. And, they'll stay around to offer horse and pony rides or stop by the local nursing home to visit with its residents.

Mitch concluded, “Cowboy Day-it all goes back to Bob Toney and the Tom Mix Rangers.”

Yep partner, Cowboy Day is a great time to be in Buckingham. So cowboy-up and join the good guys and gals to celebrate the best of the Old West and pay tribute to some true American heroes.