Jim Austin is looking forward to hearing great zydeco music this weekend.
“I’m really excited about that culture because it has a rich cowboy ethnic feel to it,” said Austin, board president of the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum.
A zydeco music festival is part of a weekend-long National Day of the American Cowboy celebration, which begins Friday and continues through Sunday. Eight legendary cowboys and two cowgirls will be inducted into the museum’s Hall of Fame.
The museum focuses on the people and practices that created the uncommon culture of the American West and contributed to rodeo history. And that’s what drives the selection of Hall of Fame inductees.
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Unlike her better-known movie characters — Jackie Brown and Foxy Brown — Pam Grier has loved the Western lifestyle since she was a girl in Denver. She was the honorary host of last year’s event at the Pam Grier Community Garden and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.
Unfortunately, Grier won’t be able to accept the honor in person, event spokeswoman Vivian Fullerlove said.
“She’ll still be inducted, but she has some issues that prevent her from attending,” she said.
Another inductee, Walt Willey, brings Wild Bill! An Evening With James Butler Hickok to the mix. With credits that include daytime soaps, stand-up comedy and satire, Willey is being inducted “because of what he’s doing to keep the Western culture alive with this one-man show,” said Gloria Austin, the museum’s executive director and co-founder.
Willey said he is honored to be inducted “because it’s for this show and certainly not for me. I’ve never been a cowboy. They’re also inducting Hickok at the same time, which is a little ironic. He didn’t much like cowboys or Texans.”
Cowboys and Texans would have been among Hickok’s nightmares as he went about taming the Kansas frontier towns of Hays City and Abilene, a museum news release said.
Other posthumous inductees include professional rodeo cowboy and livestock owner Floyd Buck Wyatt, who originated the knee-jerking technique still used by bull and bronc riders; Col. Allen Allensworth, who was born a slave but escaped and distinguished himself in military service, education, the ministry and municipal development; and Woody Strode, an actor whose roles included an Ethiopian king in The Ten Commandments.
Living inductees include watercolorist Burl Washington; Fred Whitfield, the first African-American to win the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s calf-roping world championship; Mollie Taylor Stevenson Jr., the woman who grew up and still lives on one of the oldest black-owned ranches in Texas and who helped establish the American Cowboy Museum in Houston; and Lawrence Homer “Big Buckle” Coffee, the man credited with breaking the professional rodeo color barrier.
The zydeco music festival will include Step Rideau and the Zydeco Outlaws. Throw in vendors with exceptional red beans and rice, catfish and crawdads, and you’ve got a winner.