(Ron) Howdy folks, I’m Ron Wilson, Poet Lariat. Some years ago I was invited to a statewide festival and it was mostly urban people. And I felt I needed to do a reminder of the great cowboy history of our state, Kansas. Kansas is a cowboy state, it’s in our legacy. Kansas blazed a trail throughout western history. It all started with the Native American Indian as you know, who roamed the open prairie, and hunted buffalo. The new explorers charted the wilderness, braving harsh conditions, Coronado, Lewis and Clark and John C. Fremont’s expeditions. U.S. Calvary soldiers came out west to build forts. Fort Scott, Hays, Leavenworth, Larned and Riley of course. Kansas was a key crossroads of the trails of the day, to Oregon, California, and down to Santa Fe. When Texas Longhorns needed to be shipped east by rail, the cowboys drove those herds up the Big Chisholm Trail. It was the toughest cattle drive those cowboys had ever seen, up to Dodge City, Caldwell, Wichita, Ellsworth and Abilene. The townsfolk knew they better have things all battened down. Cause some cowboys sure went wild when they finally got to town. They gamble and shoot and drink of their fill and a few left their graves up on top of Boot Hill. But like everything else, those times went through change. Homesteaders built fence where there was open range. Brave pioneers came west to make the homestead as their perch, and built the institutions of the home, the school, the church. Now the spirit of the cowboy in our state is living still, from the feedyards out west to the rolling Flint Hills. In the heart of a Kansan the cowboy spirit lives on, and the values our people will still draw upon. They work hard and play hard, are honest and free. Values that matter to you and to me. It’s part of the history that makes Kansas great, so we’re thankful Kansas is a cowboy state.