Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Dennis Gaines, Medicine Show, Re-Enactors Bring Fun For All To Ranching Heritage Days

KINGSVILLE - January 30, 2008

Contact: Julie Navejar
kajam03@tamuk.edu or 361-593-2590

Visitors will have the chance to see what life was like for early settlers of the Wild Horse Desert when the John E. Conner Museum at Texas A&M University-Kingsville hosts Ranching Heritage Days. The event will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, Feb. 4-8, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9. Admission is free.

Ranching Heritage Days features artisans and craftsmen demonstrating everything from blacksmithing to weaving to horse hair braiding. In addition to the real thing, re-enactors will be present portraying Buffalo Soldiers, medicine men and other historical figures.

One part of Ranching Heritage Days that combines the past and the present are the cowboy poets and storytellers. Dennis Gaines of Kerrville headlines this year’s Saturday line up. He is a self-described “rangy humorist, storyteller and purveyor of cowboy culture.”

Gaines is no stranger to A&M-Kingsville as he frequents Ranching Heritage Days whenever possible. As a real “workin’ cowpuncher,” Gaines regales audiences with tall tales of life on the range.

His efforts have not gone unnoticed as he was honored as “The Biggest Liar in the Sate of Texas” at the George West Storyfest in 2006. His most recent CD, Son-of-a-Gun Stew: A Texas Cowboy’s Gather, won the Best Cowboy Poetry award from the Academy of Western Artists (AWA) in 2004. Gaines has been featured on the Texas Country Reporter in a segment that generated one of the highest viewer response rates in the show’s history.

He has been featured in Americana Digest, Southern Living and American Cowboy magazines and has been a multiple nominee in the categories of Best Storyteller, Best Poet and Best Cowboy Poetry Album for the AWA. In 2000, he received the “Skinny Rowland” Memorial Award as Cowboy Storyteller/Humorist of the Year.

Cowboy poets David Williams and Gerry Allen also will be featured during Saturday’s event.

While attending Ranching Heritage Days, don’t forget to check out Phydeaux’s Flying Flea Circus, but watch out for what accompanies the circus, the Chief Wahoo Miracle Elixir Medicine Show. As pitchman for the miracle elixir, George Esparza, will talk visitors into trying his cure and at the same time will be ringmaster for his amazing flea circus. Audiences will be spellbound as the world-renowned acrobatic fleas defy gravity and surmount impossible feats of strength and agility.

New to the list of re-enactors this year is Doug Baum of Corpus Christi who is an historian and educator with the Texas Camel Corp. Baum and his camels will be on hand Feb. 7-8 to talk about the use of camels in America in the 19th century.

One of the re-enactors, John Potter, has been a classroom teacher for 28 years and a living historian for 15. He makes history come alive in period costumes while demonstrating rifle loading and firing, tomahawk throwing, starting a fire with flint and steel and knot tying.

Potter is co-author of Flags in the History of Texas and was named to Who’s Who Among America’s Educators in 1994 and 2002. He has appeared as a re-enactor in presentations for the History, Discovery and A&E cable channels.

John Jones, representing the Buffalo Soldiers Living History and Heritage Association, will be on hand, in period costume, to talk about the role of the Buffalo Soldiers in United States history. They help give a reflection of every day items that were utilized during a routine workday in the early days of the Old West.

Other re-enactors this year will be Dan Phillips and Renee Vickers who represent the 1830s era and the Nueces Gunfighters who perform Wild West skits.

Musicians Ed Zalkoskvy and Ruben Limas, guitarists from Corpus Christi, and camp cook Eduardo Martinez will be on hand Feb. 9 to entertain guests.

Craftsmen scheduled to be at Ranching Heritage Days include Robert Caldera, weaver; Jorge Maldonado, leather worker; Clemente Zamarripa, horse hair braider, D.R. Powell, farrier; and Bob Cadena, saddle maker and leather worker.

Not all of the entertainers or craftsmen will be at Ranching Heritage Days for the entire week, but most will be present Saturday, Feb. 9. The weekday hours of Ranching Heritage coincide with another event on campus, the children’s play Sleeping Beauty in Jones Auditorium, and so attendees should be advised that weekday attendance is expected to be heavy.

For more information, call 361-593-2810 or visit the museum web site at http://museum.tamuk.edu.

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