Colorado, Wyoming honorees recognized on the ‘Day of the Cowboy’ |

Colorado, Wyoming honorees recognized on the ‘Day of the Cowboy’

Courtesy of National Day of the Cowboy staff

Over the past 10 years, the National Day of the Cowboy has been celebrated across North America as an annual commemoration of cowboy culture and the cowboy way of life.

This year on July 26, the National Day of the Cowboy spotlights four honorees — two cowboys, one cowgirl and one cowtown.

Each of these four is a recipient of the prestigious 2014 Cowboy Keeper Award for their unique and individual contributions in the promotion and preservation of the pioneer and cowboy cultures of North America.

Cowboy Artist Earl Bascom

Cowboy artist Earl Bascom (1906-1995) was born in Vernal, Utah but raised in Canada. In the late 1920s and early 1930’s, he worked on ranches in the Little Snake River Valley of northwest Colorado and Baggs, Wyo.

Bascom is a famous cowboy artist who is related to cowboy artist Charlie Russell. He received art training at the Brigham Young University, graduating with an art degree in 1940.

Bascom is also known around the world as the greatest innovator of the sport of rodeo and has been called the “Father of Modern Rodeo.”

Ninety years ago, back in 1924, Bascom invented the one-hand bareback rigging used in rodeos to ride bareback bucking horses. In 1922, Bascom designed and made rodeo’s first hornless bronc saddle.

Ninety-five years ago, back in 1919, Bascom designed and made rodeo’s first modern bucking chute. In 1926, he made the first modern rodeo riding chaps.

Almost 80 years ago, back in 1935, he and other members of his family produced the first rodeo to be held outdoors at night under electric lights. That was in Columbia, Miss.

All of Bascom’s rodeo innovations and inventions are still used today at rodeos around the world.

Earl was also a professional rodeo cowboy, competing in the three rough stock events of bull riding, saddle bronc and bareback riding across the United States and Canada.

He also competed in the timed events of steer wrestling and steer decorating as well. In the steer decorating event, Bascom set a new world record in 1933 and placed third in the world standings of that year.

Bascom was declared by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Artists Association to be the first professional rodeo cowboy to become a professional cowboy artist and sculptor.

During his career, Bascom was also made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts of London, England, being the first cowboy to ever be so honored since the society’s beginning in 1754.

Earl Bascom even threw his hat into the film arena of Hollywood where he was in the western movie “The Lawless Rider” and worked with cowboy actor Roy Rogers.

Cowboy Poet Andy Nelson

Cowboy poet Andy Nelson was born and raised in Oakley, Idaho, but attended Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, and then the Utah State University in Logan. After receiving his Doctor of Chiropractic degree in Davenport, Iowa, he settled in Pinedale, Wyo.

Besides his chiropractic business, Andy is a rodeo announcer, author, cowboy poet, humorist and radio personality who hosts, along with his brother Jim, the weekly syndicated radio show called Clear Out West (C.O.W.) Radio. He is a popular speaker, as well.

In 2006 and 2013, Andy Nelson won the Western Music Association’s “Male Poet of the Year” award, and in 2009 he won the Humor Award as given by the Academy of Western Artists.

His published works have intriguing titles like “Full Nelson Shoeing” and “Andy Nelson Stew.”

Cowgirl Barb Richhart

Cowgirl Barb Richhart was born in Williamson, W.V., raised in Kentucky but moved with her family to Colorado.

Colorado has remained her home where she has been a packhorse outfitter and a rancher on a sixty thousand acre spread. She is now living in Mancos and is a radio DJ hosting the weekly two-hour country radio show “Cow Trails” broadcast on KSJD out of the town of Cortez.

For her outstanding work as a radio DJ, she has been honored with the “DJ of the Year” award by the Western Music Association in 2009 — being the first female DJ ever honored.

She was also named “Cowbelle of the Year” that same year. She has been a member and officer of the Cowbelles and the Colorado Cattle Women associations where she has been a long-time advocate of the cowboy life, directing the attention of senators and congressmen to the numerous challenges of the ranching industry.

Dodge City, Kan.

Dodge City, Kan., is the final honoree for this year’s National Day of the Cowboy. Famous in its own right in cowboy history as the end of the trail for Texas cattle drives, this cowtown is being honored for its continued preservation and promotion as the frontier settlement of the Old West

Since 2007, Dodge City Kansas and the Dodge City Convention & Visitors Bureau have encouraged community efforts that focus on celebrating the National Day of the Cowboy.

From Boot Hill to Wyatt Earp Boulevard, Dodge City recognizes the importance of the cowboy and promotes its heritage. The cowboy is alive year round there, but especially during Dodge City Days and on the National Day of the Cowboy. As a direct result of these efforts, a legislature bill awarding permanent status to the 4th Saturday in July as the National Day of the Cowboy, will be signed into law by Kansas Governor Brownback on July 26. The National Day of the Cowboy is a celebration for the heritage of the cowboy. ❖

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