Western Art

Cowgirls Learning From Cowgirls

Discover the diversity within the cowgirl way of life at the 2024 Art of the Cowgirl main event held January 17-21, 2024.

Discover the diversity within the cowgirl way of life at the sixth annual Art of the Cowgirl main event. 

The word “cowgirl” conjures images of a woman galloping freely across the open range or around three barrels in the arena at a rodeo. However, a cowgirl wears many hats, including a wife and mother, an artist and craftsperson, and a rancher and horsewoman. Nowhere is the diversity and spirit of the cowgirl more prevalent than at the Art of the Cowgirl main event, held January 17-21, 2024, at Horseshoe Park & Equestrian Centre in Queen Creek, Arizona. 

Discover the diversity within the cowgirl way of life at the 2024 Art of the Cowgirl main event held January 17-21, 2024.
Photo by Lauren Summers

Founded in 2018 by the late Tammy Pate, a lifelong horsewoman, former Miss Rodeo Montana, artist and bootmaker from Montana, the annual gathering celebrates cowgirls of all ages. It showcases their skills and stories while preserving and perpetuating traditional Western trades. It also raises funds for the Art of the Cowgirl Fellowship Program, which aids and encourages aspiring Western artists and horsewomen by pairing them with masters in such fields as fine art, silversmithing, leathercraft, boot making and horse training. The fellowship removes geographic, financial and other barriers to entry and offers women access to the shops of reputable mentors. Each fellowship recipient shares their experience during Art of the Cowgirl, and items made during the fellowship experience are auctioned with other donations to raise funds for future fellowships.

“Our Fellowship Program can be life-changing for the recipients as they have the opportunity to learn from the incredible master artists we have as part of our program,” says Jaimie Stoltzfus, chief operating officer of Art of the Cowgirl and executive director of the Art of the Cowgirl Foundation. 

The sixth-annual Art of the Cowgirl event kicks off on Wednesday, January 17, with an array of educational workshops in purse making, creative writing, photography, rawhide braiding, horsemanship, cinch building, stock-dog training, entrepreneurship and more. Workshops have limited space and require preregistration and tuition. Students receive a five-day pass to explore the event.

Photo by Lauren Summers

“If you are seeking to expand your artistic skills, horsemanship or Western craft, these workshops are so rich and full of hands-on, expert knowledge,” notes Phyllis Burchett and Kimberly Beers, instructors for the photography workshop. “At the heart of Art of the Cowgirl is a community sharing artistic skills and knowledge. We have often witnessed Art of the Cowgirl workshop instructors being completely open in sharing their expertise. This open learning environment is one of the reasons we wanted to be involved in Art of the Cowgirl events.”

Throughout the five-day event, attendees will be immersed in all things Western through educational workshops, live discussions and demonstrations, a trade show and art auction, live music, colt starting presented by Resistol, ranch rodeo, cowdog trial, breakaway roping and the World’s Greatest Horsewoman competitions. In the Wrangler All Women’s Ranch Rodeo presented by COWGIRL Magazine, four-woman teams of working cowgirls compete in events that simulate ranch work, such as branding and doctoring. The Kimes Ranch World’s Greatest Horsewoman presented by Western Horsemancontest showcases the versatility of cowgirls and their horses in four exciting phases of competition: herd work, rein work, steer stopping and cow work. The winner will take home cash, prizes and the chance to compete at the prestigious National Reined Cow Horse Association’s World’s Greatest Horseman in February in Fort Worth, Texas. 

Discover the diversity within the cowgirl way of life at the 2024 Art of the Cowgirl main event held January 17-21, 2024.
Photo by Lauren Summers

“Every year, the competitors that come to our event get better and better. It is fun to see the caliber of horsewomen coming to compete at our events. They truly showcase some of the best cowgirls in the nation,” says Mesa Pate, director of the competitions and the Elite Horse Sale. 

The Cowgirl Fiesta dinner and music on Thursday evening is a chance to develop deeper connections with featured cowgirls and the Art of the Cowgirl staff. Art of the Cowgirl joined forces with Cowgirl Artists of America to hold an exciting quick-draw contest during the event. The evening will feature Andy and Maggie Rose Hedges on stage. The finished pieces will later be auctioned in the silent auction to benefit the Fellowship Program. 

 The silent auction will open on January 8 and feature pieces from fellowship recipients, Master Artists, makers and more.

“The art auction is one of our main fundraisers for the Fellowship Program, and we would not be able to fund the opportunities we give without the generous donations from artists or the bidders supporting our program,” Stoltzfus explains. Online bidding closes Sunday, January 21, and bidders can learn more and register to bid at www.artofthecowgirl.com.

Discover the diversity within the cowgirl way of life at the 2024 Art of the Cowgirl main event held January 17-21, 2024.
Photo by Lauren Summers

The finals for the Merck Animal Health Breakaway Roping presented by Kimes Ranch and the World’s Greatest Horsewoman competitions finals are on Friday night. Saturday kicks off with the cowdog trial, colt starting, music, demos and more and features the Elite Ranch Horse Sale at 2 p.m. Online bidding is available at cci.live. The sale features a select group of horses trained by cowgirls across the United States. 

“Mesa Pate, our horse sale director, does a great job getting quality horses in the sale that are safe, athletic and well-rounded,” Stoltzfus says. “The amount of time and talent the consignors put into the horses in the sale is evident.”

Driven by cowgirls of all kinds, Art of the Cowgirl is a chance to connect with strong, inspiring women in diverse areas of the Western lifestyle who willingly share their stories and skills.

“Art of the Cowgirl is another avenue to tell the story of the West,” says Colorado saddlemaker John Willemsma, who will teach a workshop on drawing for leather tooling.

This year will be extra special, as it will honor the vision and life of Tammy Pate, who passed away after a brave battle with cancer on December 21, 2023. As we look towards Art of the Cowgirl 2024, we will honor Pate’s vision by gathering people around art, horses, community, music — all the things that she loved. There will be a special memorial tribute, “Tammy’s Rodear — A Roundup and Gathering of Tammy’s Friends,” on Sunday, January 21, at the event at 3:30 p.m.

Tickets are $55 for a day pass, $195 for a five-day pass online or available at the gate for $60/day (cash only). Admission is free for youth 15 and under. Workshop and clinic registrations are available through the website. For more information, visit the Art of the Cowgirl on Facebook and Instagram and www.artofthecowgirl.com.

Photo by Lauren Summers

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