Sponsored in the U.S. Senate by Wyoming’s late U.S. Senator, Craig Thomas, the National Day of the Cowboy is a day the Senate sets aside for Americans to celebrate the contribution of the Cowboy and Cowgirl to America’s culture and heritage. It commemorates our cowboy and Western heritage, and honors working cowboys and ranchers, Western musicians and artists, cowboy poets and all the others who continue to contribute to our cowboy and Western culture. University of Wyoming author Robert Roripaugh, Cowboy Poet Tim Rush and creative writer Samuel Stenger Renken have contributed works that reflect this cowboy theme.
Cowboys and the University of Wyoming have a special relationship. Wyoming alumi, faculty, staff and students continue to contribute to this heritage.
The nickname “Cowboys” was applied to Wyoming athletic teams as early as 1891 – two years before the first official football game. The story is that the Wyoming pick-up football team appealed to a 220 pound cowpuncher, Fred Bush, for help in a game against the Cheyenne Soldiers. Bush signed up for a course or two and came out for the team. When he trotted onto the field decked out in a checkered shirt and Cowboy hat, someone yelled, “Hey, look at the Cowboy!” Since many of the members of the team were also ex-cowboys, the name stuck.