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The O’Keefe Ranch event is being hailed as the start of the tradition.
The three-day historic O’Keefe Ranch Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival and Campfire series kicks off July 29.
There was a time when cowboys were the kings of North America, as captured in a poem by the cowboy and poet Badger Clark: “I dream of going back beyond the jagged lanes to the glories that smoked camp on the sunset plains, and cyclists swayed and shoveled heels to spare the wind, Their only guide for young men was in the saddle there with half the world to ride.”
The influence of the British Columbia cowboys began with the gold rush to the Caribou region. As miners flock to growing mining centers like Barkerville, the men in the saddle saw an opportunity to bring beef to these areas and so began the history of the British Columbia cowboy
The Okanagan was an important part of this history, as cattle were driven from as far away as California by cowboys, many of whom became the county’s primary ranchers.
Friday evening begins the weekend of activities with a cowboy dinner show and shooting. This popular event is back for one night only.
Take a tour of the ranch and you’ll host a character from the early days of O’Keefe Ranch. Learn how to rope like a real cowboy then sit in a cowboy kitchen and let Rob Dinwoody, Open Range band, historian, author and cowboy poet Ken Mather weave the story of BC’s Cowboy through song, poetry and story.
As in previous cowboy dinner shows, this year will include dramas depicting real characters from western British Columbia.
A cowboy evening is celebrated around a campfire as in the days of the Old West, by singing songs under the stars and hearing stories that will bring the Old West to life.
Saturday and Sunday are filled with demonstrations and hands-on activities for adults and children.
Animal education, blacksmithing and wheel lift shows, wagon rides, cowboy and cowgirl kids crafts, vintage games and ‘rodeo’ activities in the afternoon.
Cow dogs will also take part in the Greenhow Arena in the afternoons.
Roving cowboy Troubadour Duan Marchand, a local local musician from the Indian band Okanagan, will also be on the North Okanagan Ranch.
The indigenous people of the Okanagan were instrumental in driving the cattle to the gold fields, but also at work on the valley’s indigenous farms.
Watch the Aboriginal Cowboy exhibit at the Greenhow Museum and watch an Aboriginal cowboy learn about the clothes and clothing he wore and continues to wear as a cowboy today.
On Saturday afternoons only, take part in a poetry workshop or hop on stage for an open mic session for aspiring poets and musicians.