Sure, we all know about cowboys- but what about cowgirls? How prominent were they and where do they fit into the western history of the US? If you’re in Fort Worth the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame will leave you charmed by these belles of the Wild West.
What Makes a Cowgirl?
When most of us think about a cowgirl the image of Jessie from Toy Story may immediately come to mind. And while that spunky cartoon character – with her own display of honor in the museum, much to the delight of my girls – may be a parody, her tenacity and charm can be found in every Cowgirl showcased within these walls.
My advice- head upstairs first and see the lower level after.
Challenge of the Rodeo
The image of the cowgirl we recognize today is far different from the rugged ranch woman born of necessity. But as the women thrived in their rugged life it was only a matter of time before they began to take part in the rodeo. The grace and sparkling costumes of the trick riders was far different than the rugged costumes worn by the steer riders and ropers.
Those sparkling costumes certainly stopped my girls in their tracks as, with a push of a button, one costume was replaced with another, each telling the story of the cowgirl who wore it. Along side walls were more rugged rodeo wear and incredible trophies. Videos ran in loops sharing stories and we sat, enthralled, as they played.
Ride a Bucking Bronc
The most fun hands-on experience we’ve had was actually riding a bucking bronc! OK, not a real one, but a training bronc. Even more fun was having that footage added to real rodeo footage. If you’re not sure you’re up to a wild ride, a more sedate pony stands in the next room.
Cowgirl Hall of Fame
A few of the Cowgirls honored by the Hall of Fame include Sandra Day O’Connor, Patsy Cline, Annie Oakley, Sacagawea and all of the Ingalls women (think Little House on the Prairie). The “wall of fame” along the rear of the room hosts an image of every Hall of Fame inductee, while glass kiosks showcase recent entries. On an opposite wall you can search for inductees by state or last name, making it easy to learn the stories, and in some cases see video or hear audio of the women.
Cowgirls in the Spotlight
Another room filled with bling focuses on the Hollywood cowgirl, including the fabulous Dale Evans. Fabulous rhinestone covered saddles share space with dime comics. Mini jukeboxes are lined up, ready to play country tunes and a fabulous theater, complete with saddle seats, invites you to sit and enjoy a bit of true Americana.
Put the Little Ones in the Corral
The rotating exhibit gallery and the fabulous Cowgirl Shop may not hold much interest for your kids after the fun interactive exhibits upstairs. My suggestion- take turns with your spouse (or other travel partner); one watches the kids in the fun Discovery Corral while the other browses the exhibit and shop. Take time to view the beautiful murals and “lifetiles” in the rotunda on your way through.
The kids will love the display honoring Jessie the Cowgirl, pretending to create a chuckwagon meal, or other activities designed just for them.
The Cowgirl Museum will leave you charmed by the women who followed their dreams and exemplify the rugged spirit we romanticize today.
The National Cowgirl Museum is open Tuesday thru Sunday from 10am-5pm.
Admission: $10 adults, $8 children and seniors. Age 2 and under free.
Located in the Cultural District next to the Museum of Science and History.
Photos by JLHalstedJody Halsted shares her family
travel adventures at Family Rambling.
As her husband’s family lives in
Texas, she looks forward to exploring
the Lone Star State.