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Presentation to focus on African-American cowboys

Reservations open for May 21 history program at Finney County Historical Museum

Southwest Kansans can learn about the overlooked African-American cowboys of the Sunflower State and the American West in the upcoming annual “Evening in the Past” presentation on the patio at the Finney County Historical Museum in Garden City.

Entitled “History of the Forgotten Cowboy,” the program is set for 6 p.m. May 21, presented by Trae Q.L. Venerable, an author, speaker, horseman, outdoorsman and fourth generation farmer/rancher from the Kansas City area.

Venerable’s presentation will be preceded by an old-fashioned fried chicken picnic dinner, served with side dishes, iced tea and ice cream.

Admission is $20 per person, with proceeds benefitting programs and exhibits at the museum. Admission is by reservation only, due to limited seating, and reservations are open until noon May 17 or all seats are sold, whichever comes first.

The Evening in the Past program has taken place annually since 2015, but was suspended due to pandemic conditions in 2020-2021.

This year’s presentation is supported by the Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau and sponsored by Edward Jones Financial Advisor Preston Johnson as well as Keith and Candy Downer of Garden City.

Venerable raises Tennessee walking horses and has authored a series of books, including “Notables from the West,” “Women in the West” and “Rodeo Cowboys,” subtitled “Grandpa, I Just Want to be a Cowboy.”  He has made appearances throughout Kansas, Missouri and additional states, and his work has also been associated with the recent Netflix movie about Black cowboys, entitled “The Harder They Fall.”

Unlike the annual programs in some past years, Venerable will not be portraying a character from history, but he will focus on the ways that Hollywood, TV and some media have glamorized cowboy life but written out much of the struggle by African-Americans, who did extensive work in the field.

“Being cowboys back in those days were some of the toughest jobs, and the dirtiest,” he said in a recent interview, “so no one wanted to do it.”

“Cowboys were the lowest level of workers involved with the cattle,” he added, noting that Black cowboys were – and still are – far more prevalent than most people realize today.

The presenter said many of his past cowboy programs have been shared with school groups, but he is adapting for the adult audience in Garden City.  He will also offer his books for sale after the presentation, as well as additional branded merchandise.

Reservations and payment by check or cash may be made 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays at the FCHS offices, accessible through the north door of the museum at 403 S. Fourth Street; or 1-5 p.m. daily at the museum’s front desk, accessible from the exhibit entrance near the Ben Grimsley arches at Lee Richardson Zoo.  Reservations by credit card are not available.

In past years the gathering has sold out in advance.  

The program will move indoors at the museum in case of threatening weather.

Information is available at 620-272-3664.