Museum’s Free Annual Salute to Cowboys, Cowgirls and Vaqueros Features Music, Games, Art and Food

Celebrate the legacy of the cowboy, cowgirl and vaquero at the Briscoe Western Art Museum’s National Day of the Cowboy celebration this Saturday, July 23, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the museum’s campus on the banks of the River Walk. The free community event, which includes free admission to the museum and its exhibitions, features indoor and outdoor activities for all ages, with live music, games, crafts, a chuck wagon with tasty cowboy treats, artist demonstrations and hands-on fun for everyone.

One of the Briscoe’s most treasured annual events, National Day of the Cowboy highlights and preserves America’s cowboy culture and pioneer heritage. The day began in 2005 to celebrate and preserve the heritage of the American cowboy, cowgirl and vaquero in the United States. The state of Texas declared it a day of honor in 2015 and the Briscoe annually hosts a celebration event, throwing open the doors of the museum to honor the cowboy, cowgirl and vaquero in us all.

The National Day of the Cowboy Celebration include:

  • Free admission and activities for the whole family, including scavenger hunts through the Briscoe. Museum volunteers will be on hand to share details about the museum’s art and artifacts, highlighting works that relate to the lives and work of cowboys, cowgirls and vaqueros.
  • Cowpoke games and crafts, where you can outfit yer’self in a bolo tie and spurs, try your hand at silversmith etching, make a stick pony and try out some barrel racing, learn how to rope and ride, herd some balloon animals, do a little bull riding, toss horseshoes, craft a cowhand puppet and more.
  • Demonstrations of how to craft the essential tools of the cowboy trade by members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association  of saddle making, braiding and forging.
    • See the leather work and tooling that goes into making a saddle with saddle maker Troy West.
    • Learn the art of rawhide braiding from braider Leland Hensley.
    • Watch forger Wilson Capron shape metal into bits, spurs and more with a live forging demonstration in the Briscoe’s McNutt Sculpture Garden.  
  • Western art brought to life through a live sculpting demonstration by Jason Scull, one of the Cowboy Artists featured in the museum’s fantastic summer exhibition, The Sons of Charlie Russell.
  • Lil Partners Reading Zone, offering up cowboy tales. Sit a spell and enjoy a book reading with Emily Wilson, the Briscoe’s Curator of Art. Wilson’s children’s book, “Charlie Russell and the Gnomes of Bull Head Lodge”, crafts a modern fairy tale based on the life of Charles M. Russell (1864–1926), the namesake of The Sons of Charlie Russell exhibition. Stop by to learn the art of gnome-making so you can craft your own cowboy gnomes.  
  • Storytime at the Stagecoach, featuring the story of Mary Fields, the first African American woman stagecoach driver. For many years, Fields traveled the West with her pet eagle, never losing a single horse or package. Hear her story as Antoinette Lakey reads from “Fearless Mary: Mary Fields, American Stagecoach Driver”. A community leader, researcher, and dramatist, Antoinette Lakey currently serves as Artistic Director for Teatro Anansi, an organization with a mission to connect, celebrate and commemorate African American theatre, performing arts and history within the greater San Antonio community. 
  • Chuck wagon cooking with samples of peach cobbler and beans, along with food truck grub available to satisfy any hungry cowpokes.
  • Surrounded by the beauty of the garden’s fantastic bronze sculptures and lush greenery, kick back and soak in the sounds of West with live music throughout the day, including singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Clint Tomerlin,

The celebration pairs perfectly with its fantastic summer exhibition The Sons of Charlie Russell: Cowboy Artists of America. Premiering at the Briscoe and including works from 17 public and private collections, The Sons of Charlie Russell features 70 works of art showcasing the forefathers of Western art and how their great works provide foundations, traditions and ideals for today’s contemporary artists. On display through Sept. 5, the exhibition is the first and only time these works will be viewed together. And while visitors may not be able to rope and ride alongside the cowboys and ranch hands often depicted in Western art, thanks to immersive technology in the exhibition, visitors are able to see themselves as shadow outlines in the paintings, striking poses as they add themselves to the scene.

Celebrate All Things West All Year Long

From its McNutt Sculpture Garden to the museum’s beautifully restored historic home inside the former San Antonio Public Library building, the Briscoe’s collection spans 14 galleries, with special exhibitions, events and a fantastic Museum Store, providing art, culture, history and entertainment. Museum hours, parking and admission details are available online