Coming up in July is a festival that I’d really like to attend. It’s Longmire days, held, appropriately enough, in Buffalo, Wyoming.
Buffalo is a small town in the north central part of the state. It’s the seat of Johnson County, which is well known in history for soundly whipping an army of hired guns, sent up by the big-time ranchers in Cheyenne to clear settlers from the lands they’d legally homesteaded. That army was so thrashed by the tough farmers and cowboys of Johnson County, that the ranchers had to pull strings all the way to Washington to get their gunmen rescued by the US Cavalry. It’s also home to some of the Indian tribes that whipped Custer — and they still live there by their own rules.
But those are stories for another time. This festival is all about Absaroka county, a mythical place created by author and Buffalo homeboy Craig Johnson. It’s about a modern day sheriff — Walt Longmire — who could have been a sheriff in the 1800’s as easily as today. His Absaroka County comes alive with all the characters you might expect with such great raw material. The history of the real county shows these are tough people who don’t take to being pushed around.
The story always revolves around these people, and it’s an action story from the start, one that satisfies any lover of great westerns. But there is a lot more to it. Love and loss, dreams destroyed and reborn, radical hippies and modern militia – these things are all there, just as they are a part of the real west. And importantly, too are the Native American tribes and communities, showing us they are real people with real strengths and issues, and a proud culture that, so far, has survived the clash with the whites.
It’s a brilliantly written book series and it’s great to see the town celebrating the books and television show. The festival is July 7, 8 and 9, 2017. For more information visit the Buffalo, Wyoming, Chamber of Commerce website at buffalowyo.com and check the events page.