Rancher pushes city as 'Cowboy Capital of the American West'
Bill Gary, a Phippen Museum trustee, wants people to know that "Everybody's Hometown" is still a cowboy capital.
The museum recently registered Prescott with the state as "The Cowboy Capital of the American West," and registered the Arizona Ranchers and Cowboy Hall of Fame, the result of Gary's efforts to preserve Prescott's Western heritage.
"I've had ranches here since I moved here 50 years ago, so the Western heritage is part of my life," he said. "About 15 years ago, as Prescott began to grow and get a lot of new people, they started calling it 'Everybody's Hometown' and 'Christmas City,' and we decided we were losing our Western heritage and we needed to try to re-establish some of it instead of letting it completely go."
After seeing old rodeo photos from the 1920s where Prescott used the slogan "Cowboy Capital of the World," Gary said he checked to see if the city ever trademarked it, only to discover that Bandera, Texas, beat Prescott to the punch - six or seven years ago.
"We changed it to 'Cowboy Capital of the American West,' and try to get that re-established, get people thinking about it again - get them to using it again. One thing we've done is get some bumper stickers made," he said, adding that he hopes to get people familiar with the tag line.
Gary said Oklahoma City won out over Prescott as the city playing host to the official Cowboy Hall of Fame, adding that Phippen trustees selected an initial list of entries for the Arizona Ranchers and Cowboy Hall of Fame, a display he said the museum probably would unveil at its annual barbecue in September.
The Hall of Fame display will feature biographical information on notable ranchers, rodeo cowboys, and working cowboys from Arizona in separate categories with associated relics, such as chaps, bits and spurs, he said.
"With the ranchers, we'll have the brand of their ranch, put pieces of cowhide with their brand burned in, things like that," he said.
Gary said the first group of Yavapai County ranchers includes Dan Fain, Harold James and Col. William Green. Rodeo cowboy inductees are Chuck Sheppard, Everett Bowman and Mike Stuart.
The museum inducted Jim Miller as a Yavapai County entry in the working cowboy category.
"We started with the old ones. We'll eventually put some people that are still alive (in)," he said.
Gary said the Phippen's future plans include a "major display of cowboy artifacts and Western Americana," in a new section pending the completion of an addition to the building.