Well, another July has come and gone, and this year I was busy and missed one of my favorite days. I’m talking about the National Day of the Cowboy, celebrated in the U.S. the fourth Saturday of every July. So far 14 states recognize the National Day of the Cowboy, and each year Congress also passes resolutions in recognition of the day.

Cowboys and cowgirls represent a lot of things to a lot of different people, but especially for Americans they are a part of our culture and our history. The term “cowboys” is often used interchangeably with other words related to the Old West era, such as “gunslinger” or even “outlaw,” but real cowboys weren’t necessarily either of those things, but hardworking individuals who worked the frontier and helped build this nation. Oh, sure, there were some real cowboys who became gunfighters and law enforcement agents and even criminals, but most were not, the reputation of cowboys in the eyes of the public often having more to do with Hollywood fiction than reality.

To help bring awareness to the National Day of the Cowboy, in the early 21st Century a group of individuals came together and formed the National Day of the Cowboy non-profit organization. According to the group, the goal is “to contribute to the preservation of America’s cowboy culture and pioneer heritage …” To those ends, the organization seeks to educate the public about all things related to cowboys and cowboy culture and the heritage of the pioneers.

But it’s not all education. Nope, there’s plenty of fun to be had, too. Every year for 17 years there have been multiple events to honor the National Day of the Cowboy, such as the annual rodeo at the 7 Branch Farm in Lumber Bridge, North Carolina. Other events include the Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming, a celebration at Empire Ranch in Arizona, and a whole day’s worth of events at Bandera, Texas, the Cowboy Capital of the World. Also, plenty of other events to recognize and celebrate this special day take place in various locations throughout the country.

So next year, top off your head with a Stetson, strap on some spurs, and head to your regional rodeo to honor cowboys and cowgirls, both the fictional variety, those out of history, and those who still tend to cattle to this very day.