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BorderLore February 2015  
Rodeo Ode  

....to a hardy pioneer and carefree soul with unforgettable appeal  


Today we check our February regalia: Boots are polished and hat brims curled, with silver bolos or buckles adorning work shirts and jeans. Recently, cowboy tales about "land closest to God" entranced us...and we admired a rancher braiding his reata in traditional art. We whooped for the clown during tie-down roping and for the cowgirl kicking up barrel dust at La Fiesta de los Vaqueros®, still underway. And we sampled more than our share of jerky and BBQ, abounding in great variety as we celebrate cattle ranch tradition born in Sonora, New Spain a few centuries ago.
February is the month of the cowboy/girl in Southern Arizona. And this is what we need to know: The cowhand spirit is alive and well after all, in all of us.
The cowboy may be America's most beloved occupational character, a buckaroo-blend of the vaquero and the frontiersman, a creation encouraged by the Spanish settlers and mission priests who brought their cattle and horses to Mexico to explore for souls and gold. Although the world certainly has changed, the working rider who emerged from this legacy is still with us, true to his/her character, transcending tourist myths and wild west-inspired cuisine. 

It's with a spunky ride that we stay astride this month's saddle of BorderLore cowboy-related stories:

Balladeering: Meet our state's official balladeer, Dolan Ellis, who muses about the future of this Arizona tradition and tells us about how ideas are spread and culture conveyed through an art form of American folk music, here.

Gathering: The earliest cowboy poetry gatherings were open-hearted festivals of Americana, a joyful genre that naturally portrayed the west. So it was at the 23rd Annual Cochise County Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering. Learn more about this educational and entertainment event that perpetuates western heritage here.

Parading: The round-ups and rodeo continue at the Tucson Rodeo and Parade Grounds on South Sixth this week, signaling the 90th Annual La Fiesta de los Vaqueros®  Tucson Rodeo & Parade. We share some Rodeo history and explore the Tucson Parade Museum here.

Braiding: Meet Dick Schorr, the patient master tradition bearer who has demonstrated reata art for decades in the Folk Arts Courtyard of Tucson Meet Yourself. Dick, a Tucson veterinarian, learned his rope braiding tradition on his family's ranch, and we see his work here.

Cowbelles: First ladies of Arizona cattle ranches like Janice Bryson help us celebrate beef and cattle ranch traditions. She is a 2008 Arizona Culture Keeper, Maricopa County 4-H Family of the Year in 2002-2003 and a 2013 Arizona 4-H Centennial Family.  She shares folklife about the roots of the American National Cattle Women association in a 1939 Douglas ranch cattle women's club, the first Cowbelles, here.

Our News Round-up and other resources are here.
Editor's End Note... 


Wild west cinema romance may have obscured some realities of the cowboy, but his/her dreams and traditions still echo along the wide-open grasslands and deserts. As Jim Griffith tells us, trail-drivers today carry culture in their skills, their music and the expressive prose of their everyday speech. Certainly this herder of tradition entwines folklife, fact and fiction... as he/she also profoundly shapes our region's natural and community landscape. 


© 2015, Southwest Folklife Alliance. All rights reserved. BorderLore is the monthly e-news magazine of Southwest Folklife Alliance. The study and documentation of folklife involves the accurate representation of people's viewpoints in their own terms; quotes and opinions expressed in interviews with individual tradition bearers do not necessarily reflect the sentiments and opinions of BorderLore editors, the Southwest Folklife Alliance or any specific person or entity at the University of Arizona. 
Managing Editor:   Monica Surfaro-Spigelman 

Thank you for reading this newsletter. We welcome your feedback, commentary and any suggestions or ideas. Write to us at:  swfolklife@gmail.com

Previous issues of BorderLore Newsletter are archived  here and here.