Bandera Celebrates National Day of the Cowboy July 23

Bandera celebrates National day of the Cowboy
Photo courtesy Bandera CVB

Bandera, Texas is the best place in the country to celebrate the National Day of the Cowboy July 23. The town has long been recognized as “The Cowboy Capital of the World,” with designations by the Texas Historical Commission and the Texas and U.S. legislatures. Bandera will pull out all the stops for the celebration with live Longhorns on Main Street, gunfighters and live music on the courthouse lawn.

Chuck-wagon storytelling, wagon rides and guided horseback rides at the Bandera Natural History Museum, plus a free Ridin’ the River Cowboy Fellowship Rodeo.

Ten Bandera Must Do’s

1. Visit one of Bandera’s famous dude ranches. Many of the properties are real working ranches. Guests can take in the sweeping vistas on horseback, enjoy hearty cowboy cooking, gather around the campfire, or go on a hayride at night. These ranches offer up Texas hospitality and fun. Room prices are all-inclusive of meals and activities.

2. Catch a rodeo–In Bandera, rodeos happen once a week all summer long at the historic Mansfield Park Arena. There’s no bad seat in the house, and visitors get an up close and personal view of bull riding, barrel racing, mutton bustin’ and more.

3. Buy some cowboy boots. Whether you’re a cowboy at heart or just want to give your city wardrobe a stylish kick, Bandera puts the world at your feet with a dizzying array of new and vintage cowboy boots. The Bandera General Store’s backroom, with more than 400 pairs, is the perfect place to start your shopping. Celebrate your purchase with a double scoop of ice cream at the store’s nostalgic soda fountain, one of only eleven original remaining such fountains in the state of Texas.

Scoot Those Boots!

4. Go boot scootin’-Don your new boots for a night of Texas two’ steppin’ at the legendary 11th Street Cowboy Bar or Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar. The live music will propel you across the dance floor, and if that’s not enough, there’s always plenty of liquid courage on offer.

5. Shop for your steak and sear it, too! Stop in the Dos Gringos Chupacabra butcher shop on Main Street and purchase one of their prime cuts. Head over to 11th Street Cowboy Bar for Wednesday steak night, where you can cook it on the outdoor grills while enjoying live band music. The Bar provides tongs, spices, etc. and sells side dishes for $8 each. If you like someone else doing the cooking, enjoy an excellent steak next door at Trail Boss Steakhouse, TJ’s at the Old Forge, or the 100-year-old O.S.T.

6. Sunsets and stars. There’s nothing like watching a Hill Country sunset from a porch swing, rocker, hammock, or anywhere in Bandera. Once the skies fade to black, the constellations put on a show of their own proving “the stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas.” Bandera County is one of the nation’s premier dark sky destinations, no telescopes required.

Bandera’s Dark Skies

7. See the 2024 total eclipse of the sun. There will be a dark sky of a different kind on April 08, 2024, in Bandera. Visitors can experience the wonder and awe of totality for a generous 4 minutes and 3.8 seconds due to the town’s primo position on the eclipse’s path.

8. See the countryside–or the town–on horseback. Guided trail rides and horseback riding lessons are offered at many area stables, not just at dude ranches. Some tours even let you ride right into town.

9. Another sweet ride — There’s more than one way to get around Bandera, and nowhere is that more evident than on 11th street, where motorcycles are often parked right next to horses at the hitching posts. Motorcycle riders are especially fond of taking on The Twisted Sisters, a famed scenic drive where three hill country ranch roads converge.

10. Cowboy Mardi Gras-In February, Cajun and cowboy cultures collide during Cowboy Mardi Gras, a three-day celebration. This fun fusion of food, music and frivolity includes one of the most colorful and unusual Mardi Gras parades west of NOLA.

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Jo Ann Holt
Jo Ann Holt is an award-winning journalist with 40+ years of experience as a writer and editor. She loves live performances, from country music concerts to Broadway musicals to community theatre productions. Holt also enjoys art and cultural festivals, and good food and wine. She’s toured Amsterdam, London, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and various cities in Mexico but looks forward to visiting even more countries. She has traveled by boat, plane, and train, but especially likes taking long road trips across the U.S. with her husband, retired history professor Durhl Caussey. They enjoy meeting friendly people, learning about different cultures, and visiting historic sites wherever they go.