Switzerland County Tourism hosted its first ‘Ken Maynard Cowboy Day’ this past Saturday — and from the crowds to the re-enacters to the weather — it was a bang up event.
Mika King of Switzerland County Tourism said that the overall event was a big success, starting with the wildly popular ‘Cowboy Posse’ group.
“They were great, there must have been about 40 of them,” King said. “They set up an entire village around the courtyard in front of our jail break. We drew quite a large crowd all day.”
King said that over at the Historic Hoosier Theater, two films starring Vevay native Ken Maynard — the original Singing Cowboy — were shown.
“Strawberry Roan”, a film from 1933, was shown; followed by a discussion led by historian Kevin Parks focused on the life and times of Ken Maynard. The discussion was followed by a showing of a second Maynard movie, “Old Santa Fe”, a 1934 film that featured the very first screen appearance of Gene Autry.
Back uptown, King said that volunteers moved some of the pop up tents that were going to be used later for the band over to the courtyard to provide some shade for the crowd while watching the Cowboy Posse because of the summer weather, but even some hot temperatures didn’t detract the crowd from attending.
The Cowboy Posse staged two jail breaks during the even for everyone’s enjoyment; with the movies playing between the breaks.
Later on Saturday, there was music along Liberty Street, as the ‘Cold Hearts’ band performed to big crowds.
The Cowboy Posse’s appearance was made possible in large part through the efforts of Tourism Board member Teresa Bovard Lyons, who King said had many of the contacts with the groups and individuals that made the day very special.
The Cowboy Posse itself features members from all around the Southern Indiana/Northern Kentucky area — including Ron Werner from Bennington.
Also making the day special was Joe Sullivan from Indianapolis, who portrayed ‘Hop-Along Cassidy’ for everyone’s enjoyment, teaching everyone the ‘Cowboy Creed’.
“He had a little movie for the kids and he taught them the ‘Cowboy Creed’ and he walked around and interacted,” King said. “We had children coming in and asking him if they could have the ‘Cowboy Creed’. He was just very personable. We didn’t have anything planned specifically for him, but he was wonderful just going around and interacting with people.”
Another highlight was Doug Smith, an expert roper.
“During the different events that we had, he would just stand out there and rope and you’d see this little toddler out there,” King said. “He brought children’s ropes along with to teach them to rope; and he had all kinds of little kids around him teaching them all types of tricks. He would do two ropes at a time. These little ting guys — three and four years old — and they would try and get the rope to move, but they had more body movement than rope movement. It was really cute.”
Lyons said that she hopes that Saturday’s event will become an annual celebration here in the community — and if the first year is any indication, having the event in 2023 and beyond is an easy decision.
“We’re going to make this an annual event, more than likely,” Lyons said. “We had other acts lined up that we could not get insured, but I said that it would be nice if next year it could be a two day event. I’d really like to see this event move forward.”
Overall, everyone was very pleased with the day.
“It was a great little event,” Lyons said. “I wasn’t sure about the bar — the saloon — but it really added to the event because of the props. I got together with Rick Starker and had the saloon front built. It really added to the overall event.”
Lyons also shared what the ‘Cowboy Posse’ had to say about its participation in ‘Ken Maynard Cowboy Day’:
“Vevay has been the best venue yet,” she read. “From the set up to the people, the food, and overall hospitality.”
Lyons said that her husband, Steve, along with Bing Dickerson and David McDole — all of whom are involved with the 4-H Shooting Sports program — oversaw the loads that were used during the simulations.
“Even though the ‘Cowboy Posse’ has their own safety check, when I went to the county and the town I wanted them to know that we would be very thorough (with safety measures),” Lyons said. “Steve and Big and David would good enough to come and watch over all of that. It actually turned out good — but it was only because of the work of the great tourism staff and everyone who cooperated from the town and county.
“It was a good little event,” she continued. “I think now that the word’s gotten out, it’s only going to grow bigger from here.”