Opening day activities for the Vaquero Campfires Exhibit, Saturday, July 28th from 12 noon to 3pm, will feature a junior calf roping station, rawhide riatas weaving stations, Buckaroo crafts table and chuck wagon style grub by Santa Paula’s famous Hillgrillies BBQ.
The Vaquero – Spanish for cowboy or cattle driver – were men who excelled in the art of making a horse as flexible as silk to his rider’s will. 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 hand made horse gear show in the late 1970’s. 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.