The Art of the Cowboy

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Jared Coffelt isn’t entirely sure that he’s met all of his customers at Flint Boot and Hat. “I’ve got customers who, to some degree, still never come into town,” Coffelt chuckles. They’re ranch cowboys, working outside the expanding borders of the Hub City, and when their custom-made felt hats have seen their last dusty sunset, folks in the ranch headquarters call Coffelt, whose shop has noted the measurements on file for years. Coffelt crafts their new hats, then sends them out to the ranch to their expectant new owners.

“They wear these hats daily,” Coffelt says. “They’ve got to hold up, be what they want, and fit right.” That’s a good estimation of Coffelt’s philosophy for every customer, though these days, he’s not just creasing felt for ranch hands and rodeo stars. “We get bankers and lawyers and everyone in between,” Coffelt says. “Right now, the way the fashion world is, women and others want more wild and different stuff. It’s fun to do that in an old-school way while taking a whole new look at it.”

Nouveau-Western Spirit

Local Lubbock Finds

Hat Shaping

That nouveau-western spirit is part of what inspires Cassie Troutman, a CASP resident artist and owner of Cassapora Leather, where she makes customized leather pieces — more perfect accouterments to live out your western fantasy.

“I work with a lot of recycled pieces like boots and tooled belts, and I lean into the romanticized feeling,” Troutman says. “Lots of things are going very sleek and modern, and this is the opposite.”

Creators derive inspiration for their craft from the connection to the practice of cowboying in West Texas.

A Place ofOrigin

“This was ranching territory,” recounts Jim Bret Campbell, director of the National Ranching Heritage Center, a museum and a 19-acre historical park located on the northern boundary of the Texas Tech University campus. “Some of the largest ranches in the country in the late 1800s were headquartered here on the South Plains — the 6666, the Pitchfork, the Tongue River and others.” Decades upon decades later, “that’s still the heart of Lubbock,” Campbell said. “We still remain a western town.”

The Heritage Center—boasting historical buildings, exhibitions of archival photography and more—takes seriously its mission “to preserve the history and legacy of ranching,” Campbell said. A similar respect for the past breathes life into the American Windmill Museum, a 28-acre wonderland located at 1701 Canyon Lake Dr., one mile east of Interstate 27. There, visitors can take in nearly 200 windmills on display—”a magnificent sight to see,” executive director Sandra Harris says.

American Windmill Museum

FiberMax Center for Discovery

National Ranching Heritage Center

“The windmill is what made this area come alive. If they hadn’t discovered how to get water out of the ground, none of us would have been able to live here,” Harris says. Harris sees visitors who regale her with stories of the windmills they grew up around on their family farms, but she also greets plenty who are “curious about life in the west.”

Those eager to learn more about the region’s history might supplement their visits to the American Windmill Museum or the National Ranching Heritage Center with a stop at the FiberMax Center for Discovery, which focuses on the agricultural prominence of the region with antiques and interactive exhibits, according to director Lacee Holting. “I think of Lubbock as a destination, where the western lifestyle and heritage all correlate back to an intrinsic set of values,” Holting says. “One thing I’ve always liked about Lubbock is how wide open it feels. When people think back to the Old West, you think of this open pasture and land waiting to be explored, and that still describes Lubbock.”

From the great expanse of land, visitors can head to the famed Depot District, where they can catch the latest sounds from Lubbock’s legendary musical scene. Or, if their timing is right, they can catch the thrill to see the sight of cowboys battling that eight-second buzzer at the ABC Pro Rodeo in April in Levelland, the Texas Tech College Rodeo in October or the Lubbock Pro Rodeo in November.

The West WildResurgence

Lubbock may soon see a new influx of those cowboy enthusiasts eager to reconnect with their western roots or to learn about a completely foreign way of life: Just as Peacock’s smash hit “Yellowstone” has boosted tourism in Montana, so, too, may the forthcoming “6666” spinoff, based on “Burk” Burnett’s massive spread, bring attention to the South Plains.

“We are hugely excited that people are seeking that western lifestyle,” says Campbell, “and we know that when the 6666 has already been mentioned in an episode of ‘Yellowstone,’ the ranch was searched hundreds of thousands of times online. It’s amazing that a pop-culture show can do that; our job is to share the story of ranching, and Lubbock serves as the central hub for all of this great history.”

When those eager fans arrive in the real west, they’ll find that the journey from Lubbock to the 6666 Supply House, which is just over one hour,will make a perfect day trip, bringing them past other long-standing, significant brands like Pitchfork.

Cotton Court Hotel

Pioneer Pocket Hotel

Overton Hotel & Conference Center

Back in Lubbock, the accommodations pay homage to the region’s rich history with western decor that are complemented with modern touches at places like the Overton Hotel or Cotton Court Hotel.

As much as anything, that sums up the new frontier of Lubbock, a city west of your expectations. The burgeoning metropolis is growing rapidly, but some truths remain embedded in the bedrock: Here, the sun sets slower, strangers become unlikely friends and a community unites before the golden horizon.

“I’ve lived here long enough that I can see how big this city has become, and it’s a totally different place,” Coffelt says. “But while it’s grown significantly and become very diverse and multicultural, it’s still the heart of west Texas.”