The New Mexico legislature declared Saturday, July 23, as the Day of the Cowboy, so dust off your hats, boots and lassos and reflect on the joys of cowboy-dom.


“Everyone in New Mexico is encouraged to wear a cowboy hat on Saturday,” National Day of the Cowboy volunteer Richard Beal says in an email to SFR.

Although this directive may sound a tad lofty, just imagine everyone you know donning a cowboy hat and maybe some snazzy cowboy boots. That would certainly be a sight worth beholding.

The National Day of the Cowboy campaign was founded in 2004 and has been successful in getting a number of states to designate the fourth Saturday in July as such. On March 2, the New Mexico state legislature joined the ranks of cowboy-friendly states.

"It's personally rewarding because I am a cowboy," says Beal, a soft-spoken cowboy who worked as a rancher in California before retiring to New Mexico. "It's a way of life that is disappearing. It seems important to keep talking about it."

New Mexico is still home to 6800 livestock-producing ranches, so the cowboy lifestyle hasn't become antiquated yet.

According to Beal, the day the resolution was approved in the legislature with the help of State Representative Brian Egolf, about twenty legislators shared stories of their own cowboy heritage and ended the session by crooning "Home on the Range."

Unfortunately, Arizona senator Steve Pierce, who voted for legalizing racial profiling with Arizona Senate Bill 1070, sponsored the National Day of the Cowboy resolution this year, so it has a bit of a taint.

Still, one xenophobe's support shouldn't ruin the celebration in Santa Fe.

If the connotation of cowboy brings to mind over-grazing, ignorance and bigotry, think of Cormac McCarthy's stoic protagonists instead. Many of McCarthy's characters are thoughtful, sensitive cowboys with deep devotion to family and wilderness.

This year’s event will be celebrated with activities such as team roping, barrel racing and western polo at Clint Mortenson’s Arena on Bonanza Creek Road, just south of Santa Fe.

And what of cowgirls? National Day of the Cowpeople is, I believe, the politically correct phrase.

National Day of the Cowboy
10 am-4 pm
Day and date
96 Bonanza Creek Road