During the 2013 edition of the Ranches, Rodeos & Wranglers event, Shana Graham — co-owner of Painted Pony Rodeo — pauses for a photo while reminiscing with Don ‘Wild Horse’ Baxter who started the Painted Pony Rodeo in 1953. Courtesy photo
A gathering last year of cowboys, cowgirls — and other enthusiasts of the region’s dude ranch history — is returning next weekend to Lake Luzerne.
The second-annual Ranches, Rodeos and Wranglers event is set for Friday July 25 through Sunday July 27, primarily at Painted Pony Rodeo & Saloon off Rte. 9N.
The event received considerable attention in its debut last year, with cowhands and rodeo competitors from decades past convening and reminiscing about their experiences, sharing tales of the colorful characters who worked at the region’s many dude ranches from the late 1940s through the early 1970s.
The 2014 wrangler reunion’s main program is set for Sunday July 27, with cowboys and cowgirls from prior decades talking about the bygone days at Thousand Acres Ranch, Hidden Valley Ranch, Roaring Brook, Painted Pony, and about 40 other dude ranches once active in Lake Luzerne, Stony Creek and elsewhere in the lower Adirondacks. Last year, the story-telling included western roping demonstrations and singing old-time ranch songs.
Various exhibitors will be sharing vintage photos, news articles and brochures that depict the dude ranch experience of bygone times, as well as saddles, chaps and other artifacts, event co-organizer Cindy Cameron said. People attending are urged to bring along photos so they can be scanned on-site and be shared with others, she said.
Also, authors of books on dude ranches in the Adirondacks will have their books on hand.
The day is topped off with a chicken & biscuit dinner, included in Sunday’s $25 admission price, beginning at 5:30 p.m..
From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on both Friday July 25 and Saturday July 26, Painted Pony will be hosting free “meet and greet” public sessions with the ranch hands from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the venue’s pavilion, and a barbecue meal will be available beginning at 6 p.m.. Both evenings conclude with sanctioned championship rodeo competition for a modest admission charge.
Saturday features two free events off the Painted Pony premises: “Cowboy Coffee” from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at The Marketplace store in the hamlet of Stony Creek, and a presentation from 11 a.m. to noon on area riding stables at the Gailey Hill School House Museum, near the senior high school in Lake Luzerne off Rte. 9N. Among those to give presentations are by Larry Bennett, Joe Hanlon and Don Baxter.
Highlights of the weekend include induction of a number of people into the Adirondack Cowboy/Cowgirl Hall of Fame. The names of the honorees are not to be disclosed until the ceremony, set for about 6:30 p.m. Sunday evening. Named for the honor in 2013 were the late Jim Cavanaugh and his wife Jeanie, owners of Rafter J Western World of Warrensburg; rodeo competitors Dave and Jeanne Reynolds; Ron and Kathey Martin of Double M Western Wear of Ballston Spa; Eunice Hubbell and Hub Hubbell — an announcer, performer and contestant at Thousand Acres Ranch and Ridin’ Hy Ranch; and Don Baxter and his late wife Janie, who started up the Painted Pony Rodeo.
Last year’s celebration not only focused on rodeo competitors but on Earl Woodward, who from the 1930s through the 1960s started up an array of dude ranches in the region.
This year’s edition of the wrangler reunion will celebrate the recent designation of Woodward’s home on the shore of Forest Lake as a National Historic Place. The National Day of the Cowboy, observed on June 26 this year, will be feted through the weekend.
Also to be featured Sunday is a cowboy poet and singer, as well as caricature artist Phil Singer. Among the cowhands to be reminiscing in Sunday’s extensive program is Joe Hanlon, who worked as a cowboy entertainer with Windy Bill McKay during the 1960s at Storytown, now The Great Escape.
Pam Morin, who also organized the event, said three ranches have been added to the list of those featured at the annual wranglers’ reunion: Longhorn Ranch in Corinth, and two other dude ranches in Garnet Lake.
Morin added that the public is encouraged to send names of cowhands and staff members who once worked at the 40-or-so dude ranches. The existing list now has about 500 names on the reunion’s roster — Nearly 90 names were added this year, primarily the wranglers who came from Montana to work at Thousand Acres, Roaring Brook and Hidden Valley, she said. Both Morin and Cameron, a barrel racer, are married to wranglers.
To add a name to the list of dude ranch hands, or for more information, contact Pam Morin at 696-7184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Morin said she was enthusiastic about the reunion, which has been embraced by so many from near and far.
“It’s very moving to see this many people come together with so much in common — many of them haven’t seen each other for many years,” she said. “So many people grew up in this dude ranch industry — and it continues to this day.”