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Vive de los (Boomer) Vaqueros

Vive de los (Boomer) Vaqueros

The lure of the cowpoke always has been an attraction out here in the Wild West. There’s no better setting than Tucson for the western experience – with our surrounding Native American reservations, the spires jutting from canyons to our north, the majesty of the saguaro national parks to our east and west, and Madera Canyon birding just to the south.

In town, the western experience comes full circle as Tucson welcomes La Fiesta de los Vaqueros (The Celebration of the Cowboys) over the next week. I’m ready for it. The Fiesta started in 1925, and it continues to be one of the top extravaganzas of its type in our county. Ranching has been around Tucson since the Spanish brought domesticated animals into the region in the 1600s, and this week is the time to celebrate the importance of the cowboy to the local economy and our landscape.

We’ll have nine days of professional rodeo-sanctioned events – from bulling-riding and barrel-racing to junior rodeo competitions. City slickers and ranch hands alike will don their best western wear of jeans, boots, jackets and buckles as the entire town gets into the spirit. The party culminates with our colorful parade – billed as the longest non-motorized one in the world. Over 1000 horses and more than 600 cowboys will participate in this year’s Rodeo events.

I suggest you visit the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum, located on the northeast corner of S. Sixth Ave. and Irvington Road. You’ll see great Americana – buggies and wagons on display as well as a nice collection of Old West artifacts. There’s also a typical western street with various shops, and exhibits of historical memorabilia. The Museum is open weekdays through the end of this month.

For dinner, mosey up to one of Tucson’s authentic cowboy steak houses. My favorite in the museum area is the Silver Saddle, located downtown on Old Benson Highway in the Lazy 8 Motel. It ain’t fancy but its mesquite grill and cowboys at the bar certainly are the real experience.

This week, let’s all tip our hats to Los Vaqueros. It’s our heritage – a Tucson spectacle not to be missed. And it’s a mesh of true grit, fun, culture and sport all rolled into a wonderful Tucson tradition.

Through March 1, 2009:

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