The Autry National Center — a group of museums dedicated to preserving and teaching the history of the West — observes the National Day of the Cowboy and Cowgirl on Saturday. That's when the Griffith Park museum intensifies its usual focus on Western culture with a day of hands-on events.
The Autry aims to expand visitors’ views of the frontier beyond silver screen heroes like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and, of course, Gene Autry. But museum spokeswoman Robyn Hetrick admits that for many people, Hollywood Westerns are a starting point in getting to know the West.
That said, she can’t name her favorite Western.
“I might have said I did before I started work at this museum, but I’ve had the opportunity to see so many and the genre is so varied…I don’t know that I could pick a favorite,” Hetrick says. “That would be like asking me which one is my favorite child.”
Hetrick says each person has a way to get their inner cowboy or cowgirl on. The museum’s annual observance offers plenty of Old West activities including a barbecue, leather stamping, square dancing and trick roping, to name a few.
A Congressional proclamation established the National Day of the Cowboy and Cowgirl seven years ago; this is the second year the Autry's hosted its own celebration.