The cowboy is an undisputed American icon, and the 19th century westward expansion into the “Wild West” has been immortalised in popular culture for over a century.
The American Frontier has been mythologised using tales of legendary outlaws such as Billy the Kid, quick-fire showdowns and raucous saloons, and is by far the most popularised period in American history. But the movies we love, together with other media portrayals (such as HBO’s Deadwood or the video game Red Dead Redemption), oversimplify the Old American West’s historical events, and exaggerate the exploits of some of culture’s favourite villains and heroes: all for the good of entertainment, of course! This love affair with all things Western continues to this day, in spite of its historical inaccuracies, and so we chose this wonderful genre as the theme to our 2015 Independence Day party.
For the decor, we wanted a more natural look, and elected to incorporate dried wheat and beautiful cacti to represent the vegetation of the land, with accents of paisley and deputy sheriff badges. The tablecloth is a navy Kate Spade Larabee Spot design, and we used vintage cowboy and indian action figures to finish the look.
The highlight of the party was the home-made s’mores station using a small Sterno can, home-made marshmallows, graham crackers and imported Ghiradelli chocolate squares! Yum.
Visit Cowboy Country
The disconnect between fact and fiction of the Western can be seen quite notably in the location that has become synonymous with the American West, Monument Valley, even thought the area was never, in fact, a true cowboy area (most cowboys of the time inhabited the states of Texas and California). The Navajo tribal park, bordering Utah and Arizona, however, was a favourite of the director, John Ford, where in 1939 he filmed “Stagecoach”, the movie that firmly established John Wayne as the true Hollywood Cowboy. Eventually, Ford made 9 more movies in this area, and others have also used this setting to depict the West, including the fabulous Back to the Future: Part III.
Although it is not an authentic cowboy location, the geologically fantastic buttes and plateaus of the area make it a truly spectacular filming location, and it is well worth a visit. The only lodging within the park is the View Hotel, and no visit would be complete without traversing the 17 mile dirt track on the valley floor.