Cowboys, Cars, Cookouts & Chillin’ in the Cowboy Capital

As today is the National Day of the American Cowboy, I couldn’t think of a better way to acknowledge it than sharing my experience at the Cowboy Capital of the World, Bandera, Texas.

After driving through the beautiful back roads of the Texas Hill Country, my arrival in Bandera seemed almost surreal. These folks are serious about their cowboy culture. From the moment you hit the streets of Bandera, you know, without a doubt, you’ve stepped into a blast from the past. But for the residents of this community, the cowboy lifestyle is alive and kicking. There’s something to be said for doing things the old fashioned way and Bandera reminded me of that everywhere I looked. Activities around town included rodeos, cowboy poetry readings, chuck wagon dinners and relaxing on the Medina River.

People still end their greetings with Ma’am and Sir, just like many of us were taught as kids here in the Lone Star State. SIDE NOTE: For those of you who are offended by this term of endearment when someone is addressing you, my apologies. We are using the manners we were taught and I’d rather you didn’t try to change our traditions in order for you to feel younger. My grandfather addressed me as Miss Diann my entire life and would say Ma’am to me even when he was in his 90’s.

20130727-102118.jpgIn Bandera, tack and saddle stores exists and while the process of making these items may have changed slightly, cowboys and ranchers still use them. I saw horse drawn carriages, old west signage, chaps, big belt buckles, tributes to John Wayne and other movie cowboys, and saddle seats available when you wanted to belly up to the bar. The restaurant we visited, OST Restaurant or Old Spanish Trail, even had a chuck wagon salad bar. And, of course, chicken fried steak was on the menu.

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20130727-102227.jpgWhile I was in town, a festival was happening on the Medina River, only a few blocks from the downtown. Wonderful car collections from around the state displayed their shiny automobiles of yesteryear.

20130727-102307.jpgOf course, with most car shows, some kind of food accompanies them. In Bandera’s case, a barbecue cookout served as the backdrop. One thing I can say about Texas BBQ enthusiasts, they are creative with their names and their presentations. Even the vendors kept with the western theme offering cowhide rugs, cowboy coffee and even old west wine stoppers.

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20130727-102348.jpgWithout a doubt, my favorite thing about my visit to Bandera was watching the families. Smart phones, tablets, and handheld games were nowhere in sight. Instead, kids played in sprinklers, buried themselves in sand, swam to river islands, rafted on the water and swung from rope swings after climbing up makeshift steps nailed to a tree. Youth as I remembered it was playing out right before my eyes. Parents were rafting with their kids, laughing and talking. What a concept!

20130727-102428.jpgLife was indeed good that summer day in Bandera. I encourage you to load up the family and see for yourself. For information, visit http://www.banderacowboycapital.com. Safe travels!

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Categories: Travel Texas

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