The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good:   I received an e-mail from one of the contacts I was provided.  He passed on another contact that has a very strong connection to the Round Up.  I also finally managed to get to the county archives on a day when the archivist was in.  I found a great deal of information on the Round Up going back to 1985 – almost the beginning.  The museum curator also provided some helpful information to pursue. I found videos on 6 out of the 10 ranches involved.  I am beginning to sense a theme to their participation in the event.  This theme was backed up by what I read in many of the newspaper articles in the archive.

The Bad: The newspaper archives website was down for maintenance, just when I scheduled extra time off from work to devote to research. Then I lost time with the small town problem…when I have a day off, the county archives are usually not open, but I had a day off on a day the archives were scheduled to be open.  I arrived with excited anticipation of all the information I could find, but the archivist had called in.  I love the archivist. She is a wealth of information, and a wonderful lady, but I can’t imagine what will happen when she retires.  Apparently, no one else is allowed in without her.  She has lost the people who help her gather information, so she appears to try to run everything alone now.  I worry.  It may seem strange to worry about a “county” entity, but I have learned some sad things about Wichita Falls history.  A great deal of information and artifacts have been lost over the years.  I don’t remember when the county archives were actually established, but before they were, there was a gap in history keeping.  Many individuals donated items to the MSU History department, but when the department moved to a new building, items may have been misplaced.  Then items were passed on to the MSU Library, who passed them on to the archives.  Lita, the archivist, knows of some specific items that are missing, but has no idea how many others might be.  There is also the “museum” problem in Wichita Falls.  There have been at least two museums in recent decades that have collected items (some items only on loan from individual collectors) only to sell them to other collectors.  Yes, history in Wichita Falls has been neglected at best, and lost or sold at worst.  Therefore, I worry what will happen someday when we lose Lita.  But I digress…

The Ugly:  After Tuesday’s class on technical steps to building menus on the websites in WordPress, I went to my website and experimented with several of the accessible formats.  I’m afraid that I could not build a top menu in any of the formats I tried.  I followed the steps and it appeared to do the action, but the menu was not created.  I wonder about the formats.  They all appear to be blogging formats.  Could that be a different format than for information sites?  They all seem to be set up for blog posting and tracking.  I’m just not seeing how they can be made static for informational formatting.  Now I am really panicking about this!

Making Progress, Pilgrim

This week, I made a bit of progress on my biggest concerns, and knocked out a bit of the research.  I have my list of winning ranch team ready to start loading into a timeline.   I also found some of the information on when events changed and moved during the past 35 years of the Round Up.  I completed the 2 hour training for the IRB (painful!) and have the application for approval printed up and ready to submit.  I wrote up the questions I want to ask in my interviews, and managed to get a line on a few people who may agree to be interviewed or may know someone to interview.  I was given e-mail addresses for these potential interviewees, so I wrote up an introductory e-mail to send asking for an interview.  Now comes the hard part, I am very nervous about asking for interviews.  I can’t decide if it should be a professional or informal type of request.  People in this town can be funny about discussing what goes on in this town.  Thank goodness, I at least can mention the person who gave me their names, so that might smooth the introduction.  I know I’m not the only one nervous about contacting people for interviews, so if anyone has any advice on making “cold calls” for interviews, please pass it along.  Professional or informal?  I look forward to your thoughts.

Texas Ranch Round Up Project Contract

The goal of this project encompasses better understanding the community goal of the activities included in the week of the Round Up event.  This includes attempting to determine if the cattle ranching community (or at least of the ranches selected to participate) wish to share their “love” of their lifestyle, or attempt to limit enjoyment of the event only to those who share it.  Without being able to participate in the event before the end of the semester, observation will be limited to interviews and informal queries of community members – in an attempt to obtain unprepared and potentially more unbiased responses to questions.

As potentials for interviews, I would like to layer the interviews through participation status – rancher, volunteer, guest speaker, and crowd.  I am hoping to contact one guest entertainer for an interview.  She has performed at the Cowboy Church service several times and is scheduled again for this year’s event.  I am hoping that she can provide insight into the idea of a full religious service at a community event.  This appeals to me as a unique experience for an event not associated with a religious holiday or celebration.

The website may be rather basic as my abilities with the WordPress structure are limited.  I do plan to create a timeline of event winners and showing when new events were added to the Round Up over the years.  I would like to show a map, probably using Google Maps, to show the locations and sizes of the ranches involved.  Since this is a well reported event each year, I am hoping to include videos from You Tube or local news stations on the website.  I also hope to include samples of items from the various surrounding events, such as artwork, poetry, and pictures of food from the chuck wagon.  I’m not certain how best to display these, but will seek an interesting format to prevent merely another drop down menu.  I would love to learn how to have the images flow through the main page.

My biggest difficulty may be finding people to interview.  The official committee communication person appears to be hesitant to respond to my request for contacts.  Understandably, the committee may be concerned about my academic treatment of the Round Up’s ideals.  I am seeking points of contacts through other channels, but my interviews may be later in coming.  While I am working on finding candidates to interview, I will be researching the archives for perspectives on the event from previous decades.  A big question will be to the claim that this event helped launch similar events across the nation.  If this event was the first of its kind, how did the idea catch on to become popular in other cities?

I will not be able to attend this event before the end of the semester as it takes place in August.  I am currently working through connections to the community to find interviewees.  I am also looking at the websites of participating ranches to find points of contact.  I will also be looking at contacting people who work for and with the organizations that sponsor, benefit from and report on the event.  As this event is a big news item every year, I hope to talk to reporters who have covered it in the past.


March 10: Send invitation to Ms. McIntyre for interview.  Have names for other potential interviewees.    Have list of winning ranches for timeline.  Have questions to the IRB.

March 15:  Begin creating timeline of winners and new events.

March 17: Gather videos and news stories on events.

March 22: Begin interviews.  Begin building menu drop downs.

March 24: Interviews continued.  Begin transcribing.

March 29: Continue Interviews and transcribing.

March 31:  Begin website build, hopefully with improved graphics.

April 5: Continue Interviews and transcribing.  Website Building.

April 7: Continue Interviews and transcribing. Website Building.

April 12: Continue Interviews and transcribing. Website Building.

April 14: Continue Interviews and transcribing. Website Building.

April 21: Project Draft Completed.

April 23: Update website from feedback

April 28: Work on improvements to project. Begin work on final project blog.

April 30: Work on improvements to project.

May 3: Work on improvements to project and presentation

May 5:  Final project Due.

May 10:  Presentation on final project.

May 12: Peer Review Due.

May 14:  MSU Graduation


  •             A recent event in Wichita Falls may have an impact on the environment of the Texas Ranch Round Up in Wichita Falls.  One of the largest ranches in the area, the W.T. Waggoner Ranch, was purchased by an individual who also owns other ranches and professional sports teams in the U.S. and other countries.  Since the Round Up is limited in participation to only select working cattle ranches in north Texas, it will be interesting to observe whether the change in ownership affects the ranch’s attitude, behavior, or overall participation.

    Participation in this event includes not only competing in the rodeo events, but also the cultural, art, and family events – even going to church as a “cattle ranching” community.  Even a small change in the make-up of the main competitors could make a change in the atmosphere of the event – or not.  It will be interesting to attempt to discover if this change makes any difference to the competitors or organizers.

    This event includes many smaller events held under its overarching idea, such as the art and poetry events held each year during the “Round Up.”  This seems to be building an entire tribute to the ranch lifestyle during this weekend of events.  Does Wichita Falls become an extension of ranch life for the weekend?  Do the events assimilate everyone attending into the ranch culture?  How do the participants of the events view the spectators and vice versa?  Since this appears to be an event meant to highlight a singular culture, it will be interesting to examine the expectations and outcomes for participants, organizers, and spectators.  Are those participating wishing to extend the life of the ranch culture or attempting to give “outsiders” a glimpse into their way of life?  Does the charitable aspect of the event affect the participation and expectations?

    Since the event occurs after the end of the semester, I will be relying on interviews, news stories, and other written observations to attempt to answer these questions.


I apologize for not being there on Thursday. I injured my arm at work – yes, I’m a klutz. I spent Thursday with ice packs and motrin and am still fighting with using it. I am finding that I can only type for about 10 minutes before it becomes too uncomfortable. I’m working on my prospectus, but having to go very slowly since typing is very uncomfortable. I just hope this gets better, so I canavoid a trip to the doctor for an x-ray.

Through the Halls

Place: First floor hallway, Prothro-Yeager Humanities building on Midwestern State University campus

Time: 10 minute intervals between classes

Purpose: To observe student behavior and interactions in this small isolated environment

Taken as a group, many older adults view college students as a homogenous group – young, like-minded, modern, talkative, and often silly.  Watching a particular hallway in the Prothro-Yeager Humanities building on the campus of Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas disproves and yet, also proves a few of these assumptions to be true.  With a short ten-minute interval between class ending and starting times, it could be expected that students might be rushing from and to their required places, however, most seemed unconcerned with time, or for that matter, space.

This hallway in particular is a short hall of only four classrooms; however it is also a corridor to the main hallway through the building. At least a hundred individuals tread this hallway during the ten-minute timeframe observed, making it busier than many streets in the town.  Out of this number of people, it is surprising how few actually communicate with each other.  While groups do develop within the hall (more on that later), most passing through barely acknowledge the presence of others in their environment.  Listening to headphones attached to a number of different electronic devices, many walk along unhindered by personal contact with the world around them.  Though unconnected with the “real world” around them, most glide through the crowd without causing even a ripple from their entrance and exit.  They seem like ethereal spirits merely visiting the scene.

Other individuals, not on headphones, walk along steadily while gazing at the floor itself or at some distant point unseen by others.  They avoid eye contact with any single individual, but watch intently ahead while maneuvering the crowded hallway for openings and passages. Some appear to be withdrawn, studying internally on some heavy mental burden requiring all their concentration.  Most are completely unobtrusive, but will occasionally notice another and hold open a door, step aside to allow someone passage or meekly smile at a passerby.  They may, however, suddenly notice a group of their immediate peers and screech to a halt to form a grouping in the center of traffic.

These groupings can be fascinating to watch.  Varied by reason for the grouping, they do seem to most often form by race, nationality, or ethnicity.  They form from the crowd in an instant and halt progress of traffic immediately in their vicinity.  A single person standing on the side of the hall may be joined by two or more students suddenly, and then the flow of traffic becomes a log jam.  All those not invited into the grouping must stop, change direction, back-track, or otherwise get out of the way.  These groupings form in such delighted conversation upon meeting that those around them may feel ashamed at either wanting them to continue or at not being able to be a part of the group.  Either reasoning prevents anyone in the surrounding area from expressing resentment at the obstruction and all simply select other paths.

Differences occur in the execution of the between class dance based on class time and day of the week.  Mondays bring fewer students – especially to early classes – and more interaction.  Students appear to notice each other more , open doors to let others through ahead of them, and speak – yes, actually say “hello” to each other.  Could this be caused by spending time away from academia over the weekend,, being among family (such as moms who remind them of their manners), or the effect of fewer students battling through the same area?  It would be very interesting to spend more time in different locations over several days and class change times to compare and contrast the activity by class subject areas – business vs. humanities or engineering – and services available in the building – just hallways vs. a building with a coffee shop.

Texas Ranch Roundup

Considering the idea of highlighting a culture that members of a community wish to preserve, I am looking at the Texas Ranch Roundup as a subject for my project.  This is a highly celebrated event here in “the Falls” each year, and hosts many events surrounding the cattle ranch competition to highlight many aspects of the ranching way of life – from fun kids’ activities to arts and crafts, chuck wagon cooking, and a well-attended church service.

    The roundup is a well established event, though not as old as I was searching for  – established in 1981.  The roundup website claims that events around the country have “followed in the footsteps” of their original event: “It all started here… we are the Original Ranch Rodeo… celebrating 35 years of showcasing historic ranches, the hard work of true cowboys and every facet of ranch life.”  (

The official logo from the Buzz radio website (

The event’s official logo definitely expresses the ideal of the tough, hard-working ranch hand.  The larger than life image of the ranch hand holding a brand in one hand and a lasso in the other evokes Texas pride, entrepreneurial spirit, economical capitalism, and the ideal of a simpler form of life.