Western Music Association Celebrates the Chisholm Trail

(Frank) Okay, I’ll go first this time. We’re back. [Laughter] (Frank) Don’t you love our table setting today? (Deb) We had a lovely floral arrangement that we had to move out of the way so you could see us, but it’s also pretty decked out for a party tonight at the Dillon House. I wasn’t invited. Were you invited? (Frank) No. So anyway. (Deb) I thought they lost it. (Frank) Yes. The Dillon House is a great place for you to have your parties, so you might check it out. (Deb) And you might invite us, too. Speaking of talented friends like we talked about already. Jeff Davidson and Ron Wilson are two more of our talented friends. Ron Wilson of course, you see every week on Around Kansas along with us. (Frank) The poet lariat. (Deb) The poet lariat. (Frank) Not laureate, lariat. (Deb) And our very talented cameraman, Michael Goehring actually interviewed them out in Abilene recently when they had their festival out there. Those guys with the Western Music Association do some awfully cool stuff and we’re so proud to be connected with them in any way. Michael did a great job, and we’re thrilled to have Michael with us. He’s more than just a pretty face Frank. (Ron) We are here in Historic Old Abilene Town, celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Chisholm Trail. Ron Wilson here with Jeff Davidson. The city of Abilene has hosted a special festival, “Trails, Rails, and Tails.” Jeff, there was an awful lot of stuff going on this weekend. (Jeff Davidson) This was a big weekend. It was a lot of fun, really was. (Ron) The Kansas Chapter of the Western Music Association, of which Jeff is president, provided music both Saturday and Sunday here at the festival. But there were cattle drives, there was a melodrama, there were all kinds of food, and vendors, and gunfights as always on the Main Street of Old Abilene Town. (Jeff) That’s right. And then Red Steagall was the kind of grand finale last night right before the fireworks, and we also had the Native Americans, which I thought was a nice touch. The Chisholm Trail came through their country, which was Oklahoma, where it became Oklahoma, at that time. (Ron) So we had both cowboys and Indians here in Historical Old Abilene Town. One of the most interesting parts was the cattle drive, there were longhorn cattle, actual longhorn steers that were brought up from Woodward, Oklahoma, had a daily cattle drive around the park, and then the culmination was the loading of the cattle onto the steam engine and the train to go east. (Jeff) That’s right, and that was super and drew quite a crowd. It was certainly fun to watch those longhorns get on, and they had horns long enough that you had to tilt their head a little bit to get through the door on that cattle car. (Ron) The history of Abilene is that Joseph McCoy, an Illinois cattle buyer, came down the railroad line through Kansas after the civil war looking for a community to host the stockyards, where they could bring all those wild longhorns up from Texas to the railroad so they could go east to the cattle markets there. There was a Joseph McCoy interpreter who made remarks at the cattle loading, and then they had actually built a wooden loading chute that resembled one of the original loading chutes for cattle. (Jeff) Yes, and I think it was actually quite accurate. I think it was a very good replica of what they actually used. And you might even mention that Joseph McCoy, more or less designed the cattle car himself. And we were using one from the 1860s; it was actually that old, so that was interesting. (Ron) That’s tremendous. The Texas drovers, when they were moving those cattle north, found that they could follow the ruts of the wagon trains that were left by freight wagons that were going down to the Indian tribes in Oklahoma. The man who was doing the trading was a half Indian trader by the name of Jesse Chisholm. And so the Chisholm Trail got its name. Why was the Western Music Association part of this event? (Jeff) Well we talked to Abilene when we knew they were going to do a show, and actually we were talking about doing one actually next year, on the 150th year. But this year, this is actually 149 years since the cattle started coming up the trail, which was 1867 by the way. And so Abilene decided to kick it off with the show this year, and then they’re going to culminate it with even a bigger event, bigger show next year. And so we talked to him that, “Hey. We’re the Western Music Association, the Kansas chapter. We would like to be a part of your celebration and with all you’re doing.” And so they said, “Sure. Come ahead.” And it’s been a great event, and from everything I’m hearing, the people really like what we did, so that’s great. (Ron) There is a group that’s meeting to plan events all year long, culminating in the 150th anniversary, so be watching for more information about that. If you’d like to find out more information about the Chisholm Trail celebration, go to Chisholmtrail150.org.