This weekend is Lanesboro’s biggest festival, “Buffalo Bill Days.”
You might wonder why Lanesboro, Minnesota hold a festival for that famous western showman, “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Well, as it turns out, in the year 1900 Mr. Cody performed some of his first Wild West shows right here in Lanesboro. Even back then, Lanesboro was a hot traveler’s spot, and Lanesboro’s own Doc Powell, who went by the stage name of “White Beaver” helped put on the show.
But did you know…
-Cody’s nickname came from the fact that he killed over 4,000 Buffalo personally in his time out west.
-Cody served in the Union Army as a scout during the Civil War, and his continuing work as chief of scouts following the war earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1872.
-Cody took part in some of the first “media events” in American history, gaining publicity for the Army of the West by taking people like the Grand Duke of Russia on a buffalo hunt.
-Buffalo Bill successfully blurred the lines between fact and fiction in his shows, bringing in real Wild West legends like “Wild Bill” Hickok and Texas Jack Omohundro alongside his performers. It was the first reality show!
-At the height of his popularity, Cody was known the world over and was consulted by Presidents from Ulysses S. Grant to Woodrow Wilson about matters concerning the American West.
-Because of his shows, the term “cow-boy” went from being an insult (meaning a coarse and callous person) to a term to be admired. The shows featured skilled riding, roping, and trick shots from famous shootists like Annie Oakley.
-In 1887, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show was invited to England to perform for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Hard to believe that only a hundred years before, we had just got done fighting for our independence from England!
-Buffalo Bill gave out many free passes to orphanages when the Wild West show came to town. He argued for equal pay and voting rights for women, and the show’s women received pay comparable to the men in the show.
Come on down to Lanesboro, Minnesota this weekend for a celebration, and be sure to check out the Cannon Old West Society as they pay tribute to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Shows with re-enactments here in Lanesboro this Sunday. I hear they might rob the downtown bank!