World-Famous Cowboy Band attends Texas Cowboy Reunion

July 10, 2019 Felicity Neptune, Staff Writer

(ABILENE, Texas)–Due to the widespread fame of the Hardin-Simmons Cowboy Band, the ensemble was specially invited to play at the Texas Cowboy Reunion Rodeo in 1935 and have continued playing almost every year since.

2018 Drum Major, Bret Hudman, leads the band during the parade.
2018 Drum Major, Bret Hudman, leads the band during the parade.

The Texas Cowboy Reunion was created in 1930 by a group of local men from Stamford who wanted to honor the pioneers of the west and provide a place where they could reunite and “live again the days of the longhorn and open range.” However, there was no time to build an arena for the event, so an amphitheater on Swenson Ranch became the first location to host the reunion.

By 1935, an arena was constructed with a special section in the stands for a live band to play. The Cowboy Band was the first band to sit in the band section and have played at almost every reunion since the construction. Along with the band, Will Rogers was a guest at that the reunion; However, the following month Rogers passed away in an aviation accident making the Texas Cowboy Reunion his last public appearance. 

Because the reunion is such an important tradition for HSU, it is under rare circumstance that the band does not attend. For example, between 1923 and 1973, the only times the band missed the Texas Cowboy Reunion was due to a large number of band members being drafted in World War II. From March 1943 to September 1946, the Cowboy Band was inactive. 

Although the Texas Cowboy Reunion began as a small community project with only a few men, it has become the largest amateur rodeo in the world. It is not only a time for competitors to reunite with one another but also a time for friends and family in the audience to come together as well as HSU alumni to return to campus and play with the band again. Each year, the Cowboy Band invites new band members to play with them at the rodeo as well as any alumni, friends, or family who are interested in joining the band for a day filled with music and laughter.

The World Famous Cowboy Band marches in a parade.
The World Famous Cowboy Band marches in a parade.

Playing in the rodeo with the band as a freshman is a great way to get to know some of the people who will be in the band in the fall. It gives those freshmen a head start when it comes to having friends on campus on that awkward first day of school. Students also get a glimpse of how advanced the music is and will be able to determine if they will be able to continue with the course.

The rodeo occurs every year during the week of Independence Day. The Cowboy Band marches in the Opening Day Parade in downtown Stamford and also performs a 20-minute concert before the rodeo begins. During the rodeo, the band plays for each individual contestant in the Grand Entry. This could take 45 minutes to one hour, but the main events start quickly after. For several functions, the contestant must stay on their horse for at least 8 seconds to qualify to the next round. To help the contestant know when 8 seconds have gone by, the band plays pieces that are only 8 seconds long. This encourages and distracts the rider while also helping the rider find a way to count while focusing on staying on their horse.

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