The blacksmithing demonstration was one of many attractions at the Empire Ranch Cowboy Festival. Photo by Pat McNamara

A perfect cool, sunny, day welcomed over 1,900 guests to the annual Empire Ranch Cowboy Festival held at the ranch north of Sonoita on Nov 2. Guests were treated to a total of 450 presenters, demonstrators, authors and vendors at the historic, newly restored Empire Ranch. 

The Cowboy Festival is the largest event held at the Empire Ranch each year, and this year’s attendance saw a record-breaking crowd. There were two large arenas set up for demonstrations by horse trainers, a drill team, charros in authentic costumes, BLM Wild horse and burros and many other informative and entertaining participants. 

A silent auction, cowboy conversations and story tellers, western skills demonstrations, animal and western entertainment, food and various retail vendors and non-profit organizations had booths up by the historical ranch buildings. There was a stage for entertainment supplying an authentic western music atmosphere to the guests. 

The Buffalo Soldiers from Fort Huachuca, dressed in historic costumes, also were there for a presentation of cavalry riding exercises. There were trail rides offered to those interested in getting the real feel of ‘riding the range’ on horseback.

Organizers of the event were pleased with the success of this year’s festival, and plans are already in the works for an even bigger event in 2020.