BYRAM TWP. (Aug 10, 2021) – Wild West City, while not to the west, has been recognized as a place that highlights western heritage.
Wild West City, a fixture in Byram Township for over six decades, recently received the 2021 Cowboy Keepers Award from the National Day of the Cowboy Board of Directors. Wild West City, which highlights the National Day every August at its western-themed amusement park, was one of only three recipients to receive the Cowboy Keeper Awards in 2021.
National Day of the Cowboy is a non-profit organization that helps preserve American cowboy culture and pioneering legacy, so that history and culture through education, the arts, literature, celebrations, gatherings, rodeos, and other community activities. The fourth Saturday in July has been declared the national day of the cowboy. In the words of former President Bush: “We celebrate the cowboy as a symbol of the great history of the American West. The cowboy’s love for the country and the country are examples for all Americans. “
The National Day of the Cowboy’s Cowboy Keeper Award was created to recognize those who make a significant contribution to the preservation of the pioneering legacy and cowboy culture. This year’s winners included Wild West City, Jim Liles from Arizona and the STAND Foundation from Washington, DC, who cultivate participation in today’s cowboy life.
“We’re delighted to receive the Cowboy Keeper Award,” said Mary Benson, whose family has owned the park since the 1960s. “This is a great honor for us and an endorsement that we are doing a good job of keeping the spirit of the cowboys, the pioneering legacy and the Wild West alive.”
In recognizing Wild West City, the directors noted that Wild West City is a family-friendly, frontier-oriented theme park, based on a lifelike model of Dodge City, Kansas from the 1880s.
The park opened its doors in the spring of 1957 and has created a western experience for thousands of visitors over the past six decades. The “short term investment” was a project established in 1956 by the American Foundation for the Preservation of the Old West. And even today, adults who visited Wild West City as a kid rejoice with their own children to see the same shows and story they remembered when they were young.
The main attractions include live action shows with daily reenactments, and between the action, cowboys and horses, every guest will find something to enjoy. They do their best to get the kids interested by including them in some of the skits.
People still love riding the train stopped by outlaws and kids love going to Frontier-style school. There is a miners camp where guests can learn more about the men who opened up the west. Wild West City is the rare place where you can still ride a horse-drawn stagecoach. For those with a special love for history, the park has a large collection of authentic memorabilia from the time. Includes an extensive collection of Native American art and artifacts. Participants will also learn about agricultural tools from the late 19th century, contemporary tailoring, blacksmithing, and much more. Breaking the law could end up in one of their jail cells from circa 1890. As soon as you step through the gates and step onto Main Street, you will feel like you are walking through a town very similar to the set of Gunsmoke . complete with a full service saloon, candy store, blacksmith and a working printing press.
Cowboy Jim Liles began his 20-year bareback riding career at the age of 13. More than fifty years later, he can still tell stories of the number of times those bronchi broke his bones, some of them more than once. However, bareback riding has remained his life’s passion, and the broncs have remained the horses he loves most. Today he believes “it will help educate fans and younger participants about the history of bareback riding and honor those who played a role in this great event.” For the love of the sport, he opened a National Bareback Riding Hall of Fame and Museum in Congress, Arizona, which houses perhaps the largest collection in the world of riggings representing the history of bareback bronc riding. He believes it is the only exhibition of its kind that exists.
The mission of the STAND Foundation is to give young people in the city center the opportunity to acquire knowledge, skills and self-confidence through equestrian and rodeo readiness training. The STAND (Strengthening Thoughts and Nurturing Dreams) Foundation, based in Washington, DC, is committed to transforming and shaping lives by teaching inner-city children riding skills that might otherwise never experience the transformative magic of a horse. The organization is the result of the vision of cowgirl Selina “Pennie” Brown who strongly believes that learning to ride changes you.
For more information on Wild West City, please visit www.wildwestcity.com