One For The Books

The dust is settled, life in Buffalo Wyoming is returning to normal, and we are blessed with another year’s worth of warm memories, of friends old and new, of special events and small discoveries, of things we’d forgotten and things we hadn’t yet dreamed. Longmire Days is put to rest for another trip around the sun and we have a chance to reflect and absorb the experiences.

So why come back year after year? After all, the list of events and social gatherings doesn’t change all that much from one year to the next. But you see, that’s just the point. In a world of constant and sometimes jarring change just for change’s sake, a little continuity is a refreshing respite. Never mind what’s happening in the outside world, for three days we can step back into our more innocent and trusting selves, to the part of us that we misplaced somewhere along the path from carefree childhood to a life of “grownup” work and worries.

It is joyful to see middle aged “cowboys and cowgirls” reliving the gentler past in a modern setting. Everyone walks a mite easier, with a quick-draw greeting of “Howdy” at the ready. Complaints are few, and are addressed with a smile and heartfelt concern. Most important, though, are the friendships formed between people of diverse origins and locales, bound by an interest in the exploits of a Western sheriff who knows what’s right and does it, no matter what. They say a man or woman is judged by the friends they keep. I believe that, and am a much better person for having met so many kind and interesting people during our travels in Wyoming.

It is astonishing that a town of about 4,600 has the ability to put out a spread for triple that number of guests. It is even more incredible that it’s organized by a Chamber of Commerce with but three or four paid employees. Volunteers, not just from the town but from all over the world, give of their time and effort during their vacation to help make Longmire Days a reality. Without them pitching in, the event simply couldn’t happen.

The Longmire show cast members who come each year, not unlike a family reunion, do so as much to reconnect and enjoy each other as they do to give fans a chance to meet and get to know them personally. Each of them makes the trek to Buffalo, for long hours and no pay, simply to give something back to their loyal fans. A more talented, congenial and caring group of folks is hard to imagine.

The spirit of Longmire Days, I suspect, is a reflection of the man behind Walt Longmire. I’ve had the honor and privilege to get to know Craig Johnson, and I’m here to tell you, he’s exactly what you’d expect. Thoughtful, generous, and humorous, and with no agenda but that visitors to Longmire Country turn a nice vacation into a great experience, he takes the role of goodwill ambassador to heart.

When in all honesty he’d rather be out working on their ranch, he and his lovely wife Judy put their heart and soul into making Longmire Days a success. And, in their book, “success” is defined as having every single visitor come away with a full heart and satisfied they had a special experience in the high plains of Wyoming.

—Ry Brooks

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