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Legend of Rawhide

The 2012 Legends of Rawhide. (Legends of Rawhide)

This is an annual summertime ritual, a yearly celebration, up in Lusk, Wyoming. The Legend of Rawhide is a Niobrara County pageant that includes all of the traditional statehood celebration events. There’s the pancake breakfast, barbeques, a golf tournament, an auction, and of course, a dance. And on that second weekend in July, you can enjoy art shows and a parade.

And it’s the “legend”, the Legend of Rawhide itself, that makes this particular gathering a most unique annual celebration. In fact, the Legend of Rawhide, a play that features all-local citezenry, is the main attraction. The Legend of Rawhide was first performed in 1946, created by Dr. Walter Reckling, and written by Eva Lou Bonsell. It’s a dramatic piece that tells the story of a young man travelling by wagon train to California in the 1860’s. The man boasted that he would shoot the first Indian he saw, and he did. He killed an innocent Indian girl, and after her tribe retaliated by attacking the wagon train, they would capture the man, and skin him alive. And there you have the actual “legend”, that is the Legend of Rawhide.

Today’s Legend of Rawhide has graced the covers of Life Magazine and Look Magazine, and features Father De Smet, Jim Bridger, soiled doves, lots of wagons, and dozens of Indians on horseback. The Legend of Rawhide is an enduring Wild West yarn that has stood the test of time, a handed-down story from a frontier past that has become an annual celebration.

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