FAMILY REUNION AT DIAMOND TAIL RANCH
2014 Cowboy Artists of America Trail Ride
For each of the last 49 years, the Cowboy Artists of America have gathered together at ranches across the American West, to ride, rope, drive cattle, tell stories, sing cowboy songs around a camp fire and renew the friendships that have kept them together longer than any art organization. Visions of historic cattle drives, Indian battles, brave settlers, and contemporary working cowboys, fill their minds and come alive in paintings and sculptures they create for the Annual CAA Exhibition and Sale.
For the sixth time in twenty years the Diamond Tail Ranch, nestled in the high mountains of northern Colorado, was the location for this year’s ride. Ray, Sally, Mike and Renee Duncan, along with Bill and Maggie Rey, hosted twenty Active, four Emeritus, nine Honorary members (including themselves) and a number of guests. The artists set up tents along a fence where saddles and chaps reside, the campfire pit is filled with wood and surrounded by folding chairs, guitars, and coolers filled with “magic elixirs”. That evening the campfire was lit as the music and stories commenced. In the early dawn of the next day, after breakfast by the fabulous Ore House cooks and crew from Durango, the men saddled up and headed out with ranch manager, Scott Butcher in the lead, members of the Duncan family and ranch hands, riding side-by-side with CA members, through mountain pastures of grazing cattle and buffalo.
As always, the Duncans made the trail ride feel like a family reunion, as friends and loved ones came
together to remember the past and look forward to the future. This year, one long time CAA member was gone. Bill Owen, who epitomized the meaning of cowboy artist, passed away shortly after last year’s ride. Though the CA family missed him, everyone knew Bill had joined Charlie, George, Johnny, Joe and all the other CA’s who had gone on before him. . . . working a gather in the Great Beyond.
The third day always means business. An all-day meeting took place where important decisions were made about the 49th CA Exhibition and Sale, advertising campaigns, and technical issues about the CA website and Facebook page, as well as discussions on possible new members. Elaborate plans for next year’s 50th Anniversary of the Cowboy Artists of America, including the release of a new book on the history of CAA, exciting celebrations and events throughout the year, and the Golden Anniversary Exhibition and Sale at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in October, 2015.
On the last evening at the ranch, the wives drove out from Laramie, Wyoming, where they were having fun getting to know each other better while hiking, shopping, dining and having their own “trail ride”. The warm and inviting Diamond Tail lodge was once again filled with fabulous food, wonderful Silver Oak wine, great conversations, lots of hugs and laughter, and the special music – all captured in the photos taken by Ron Riddick. Red Steagall, Donny Hedgpeth, Herb Mignery and Bill Nebeker played guitars and sang old songs and new, while many of the others joined in the chorus.
“Thanks again”, seems so inadequate for the hospitality given by Ray, Sally, Mike and Renee Duncan, Bill & Maggie Rey, Scott and Bobbi Butcher. Our gratitude also goes to Dr. Scott Robertson, Rick and Sally Douglas, Don Bellamy, the great Ore House chefs and cooks, the cowboys who helped with the horses and the ride, Seth Hopkins from the Booth Museum, and staff members from the National Cowboy Museum; Leslie Baker, Gerrianne Schaad, Kari and Holly. Everyone worked diligently to make the trail ride, business meeting and activities run perfectly and it was an absolute success. THANK YOU ALL!
The Founders of the Cowboy Artists of America would be proud and absolutely surprised at what has become of that little idea they first had on a short trail ride in Sonora, Mexico, 50 years ago.
~Photo credits R. S. Riddick