The Vaquero: Event tomorrow focuses on Texas cowboy

SAN BENITO — Tomorrow at 6:30 p.m., the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center and The Greater Dallas Legal and Economic Development Foundation will present “Vaquero: Genesis of the Texas Cowboy.”

This is an exhibition created by the Wittliff Collections at the Alkek Library, Texas State University-San Marcos, presented in partnership with Humanities Texas, the state affiliate for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

It is being made possible in part by a We the People grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In the early 1970s, noted Texas historian Joe Frantz offered Bill Wittliff a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — to visit a ranch in northern Mexico where the vaqueros still worked cattle in traditional ways.

Wittliff photographed the vaqueros as they went about daily chores that had changed little since the first Mexican cow herders learned to work cattle from a horse’s back.

Wittliff captured a way of life that now exists only in memory and in the photographs included in this exhibition.

The exhibition features photographs with bilingual narrative text that reveal the muscle, sweat and drama that went into roping a calf in thick brush or breaking a wild horse in the saddle.

There will also be a screening of Hector Galan’s film “Vaquero: The Forgotten Cowboy. The unsung hero of the American West is the Mexican American “Vaquero,” literally translated as “cowboy” in the Spanish language.

Today, there are only a handful of these descendants of America’s first cowboys since a rapidly changing industry has quickly made this lifestyle obsolete.

Shot on location in South Texas, this moving documentary pays homage to a breed of men that history has overlooked as they continue a trade from an era gone by.