In comparison to the often-romanticized life of the American cowboy, the Vaquero or their counterparts, the Buckeroos, would receive little attention from Hollywood filmmakers. Instead the Vaquero legend would be told through oral storytelling passed from one generation to the next, often around campfires. It would be the preservation of the California Vaquero story that would drive Lou Hengehold, owner of The Mill in Santa Paula, to host his first Vaquero inspired handmade horse gear show in the late 1970s. It would start a tradition that would span over three decades under the roof of The Mill, which now houses the Agriculture Museum of Ventura County.
Vaquero Campfires is a nostalgic look back at the eye-catching displays of silver-studded saddles, hand-woven rawhide ropes and antique bits and spurs that once lined the former feed store’s warehouse–the space where talented artisans and old-timers would share their Vaquero collections with the public and trade a bit, a saddle or even a story.
The Vaquero Campfires exhibit will be on display July 28 to November 25 at the Agriculture Museum, 926 Railroad Avenue, Santa Paula.