WJS Welcome & Information Booth
Randy Schoppe and his wonderful staff.
Jerry Metcalf with his partner musician entertained us with some old cowboy music.
Touring the Will James cabins that were moved to the Big Horn Museum grounds from the Rockin’ R Ranch with Randy Schoppe.
Dave & Jane Secrist receiving the posthumous
WJS Big Enough Award and Plaque.
2019 WJS GATHER REPORT
Will James Society 2019 Gather
Event was a great success!
By Sharon DeCarlo
Hardin Montana and Big Horn County Museum was the place to be on September 5th through the 8th, if you love western heritage, history and Will James. Our Will James Society board was there with representers from all over the US and Canada to celebrate and promote this great American Cowboy's life and all that he did in his short time on this earth. WJS members came from as far away as Canada,Wisconsin andAlabama, Texas, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming, Colorado and Nevada. This proves that Will James has not been forgotten and that we are still a strong and viable organization with its sleeves rolled up ready to move forward!
With this Gather came new opportunities, new members, new ideas and a strengthening of our core values and goals as well as our bank account! Some folks that have been members for a long time showed up and introduced themselves and said they have been trying to get to a WJS Gather and this was the first opportunity they had. They couldn't get enough of James legacy and shared their longtime love of his work by telling stories of how he influenced /their lives and childhood. As a board member and the President, that sure did make all of what we do so worth all of our hard work and efforts! It was evident that this was truly Will James country. Most everyone we encountered knew who Bill James was and possessed a definite appreciation for his art, books and life as an American Cowboy. Locals showed up and visited our booth.
We made new friends and yes, increased our membership as well as receiving donations for our WSJ Scholarship fund. BB with raffle tickets in hand sold even more tickets and talked to folks about our goal to give 2 scholarships to deserving young students in 2020. Speaking of the Hardin Museum, what a wonderful experience it was to work with Director Randy Schoppe and his gracious staff at the museum. They literally opened their doors to us and gave us everything we needed to set up our information booth inside their beautiful museum. The meeting room was perfect for our board and membership meetings, and silent auction. The spacious picnic grounds had an outstanding covered area with tables and electricity. Everything was top of the line and perfect for our venue, we couldn't have asked for anything more!
September 6th, after our breakfast meetings (board and membership), a tour of James’ studio cabins and the other interesting buildings on the grounds was presented by museum director Randy Schoppe, his knowledge and presentation were impeccable. The experience gave us a real look into Will James’ life and surroundings where he produced some of his remarkable writings and illustrations. The essence of this remarkable artist and writer could be felt everywhere our travels took us.Will James loved it here and after visiting these places we can understand why. After the outside tour concluded we changed our original schedule up a bit and with the help of Rhonda and Francy we located and secured a guide named Curtis Real Bird to take us to the Battle of the Big Horn area where we had a great lunch at the trading post followed by an hour tour of the battle field where Custer met his fate. Our guide was so knowledgeable and articulate that we hung on his every word. The history becomes so real when you are there on the site where so many men on both sides of this battle perished.
Friday the 6th, in the late afternoon, saw us back at the museum outside in the picnic enclosure having a great meal provided by Bud's Catering. Bud cooked the meal and sent us two wonderful hard-working ladies who served us up a great plate of country vittles. Entertainment and a Special AnnouncementJerry Metcalf, with his partner musician, came by to entertain us with some great oldcowboy music mixed in with old-time country western tunes that most of us grew up with. Mr. Metcalf also allowed us to use his sound system to make a very important announcement.The Will James Society presented the WJS Big Enough Award to Dave and Jane Secrist. It was a great moment, we all had tears in our eyes as these two great Will James members received this much deserved award as they have been great champions of our mission to preserve the legacy of Will James.