The Wild West is coming to McKinney on Sept. 21-22, when cowboy celebrities and entertainers arrive at the Spirit of the Cowboy festival at Chestnut Square Historic Village.

"I go to cowboy festivals all over the country and I've always wondered why we don't have one right here in McKinney,"  said Donna Wilmeth, festival organizer, in a press release from Chestnut Square.  "So I just decided to get on with it and hold one. It's a great opporunity for the people of McKinney to meet their cowboy heroes."

Eleven celebrities from the great TV and movie westerns of the 1950's and 60's have signed on to attend the event. The following celebrities will be available for pictures, autographs, and Question and Answer sessions:

  • Robert Fuller of "Laramie"
  • William Smith of "Laredo"
  • James Stacy of "Lancer"
  • Micheal Dante of "Custer," "Legend of Custer," and "Winterhawk"
  • Don "Brown Jug Reynolds of "Red Rider"
  • Denny Miller of "Wagon Train"
  • Burton Gilliam of "Blazing Saddles"
  • James Hampton of "F Troop," "Teen Wolf" and "Teen Wolf 2"
  • Ken Farmer of "Silverado," "Friday Night Lights"
  • Alex Cord of "Laramie," "Branded"
  • Charlie LeSueur, actor, emcee and authory on B Westerns

The grounds of Chestnut Square Historic Village, the green space north of Chestnut Square and east Louisiana Street in downtown McKinney, will be transformed to accommodate a variety of cowboy activities, including:

  • Rides in an authentic restored Butterfield stage coach
  • Cowboy meals from the chuck wagon circle up
  • A stick horse rodeo on east Louisiana Street for junior cowboys
  • Western movies in the Chapel
  • Performances by western performers
  • Performances by Friends of Skidboot
  • Pony rides
  • Mock gun fights
  • Friday night hoedown sing along
  • Blacksmithing demonstrations at the Chestnut Square forge
  • Dutch oven cooking demonstrations at Chestnut Square
  • KHYI 95.3, The Range, Live Broadcast

To launch the Spirit of the Cowboy festival, Kristine Byars, a retro-western artist has created an original oil painting that evokes the Spirit of the Cowboy. The painting will be offered in a commemerative poster at Dixie's Store at Chestnut Square.

Visitors will enjoy the shaded grounds and historic buildings of Chestnut Square as a backdrop to the western fun. 

"We jumped at the opportunity to host the Spirit of the Cowboy festival," said Cindy Johnson, Chestnut Square Executive Director. "Our mission is to preserve and perpetuate the heritage of Collin County and cowboys are definitely part of our heritage. The cattle drives of the 1860's through 1890's went right by McKinney." 

Gates open for the event on Friday, Sept. 21 at 1 p.m. and close at 5 p.m. The Camp Fire Hoedown on the Green Space starts up at 7:30 p.m. and everyone is urged to bring their favorite instrument to join the fun. Friday is also "Senior Day," with discounted one-day tickets for seniors. 

Saturday's activities start at 10 a.m. during the weekly Historic McKinney Farmers Market and continue until 5 p.m. At 7 p.m., Dinner with the Stars begins at The Pantry Restaurant in historic downtown McKinney. Ticket sales to the Dinner with the Stars event are limited. All tickets are available online at the Spirit of the Cowboy website.

"Ticket sales have been brisk," said Johnson. "We've sold tickets to people from Japan, the UK and over 15 states."

The Spirit of the Cowboy Facebook page has generated interest around the globe.

"All the cowboy folks are out there posting every day about the event," said Wilmeth. "There's a lot of people who are excited about coming to Texas and seeing their favorite cowboys."

For more information about the Spirit of the Cowboy at Chestnut Square Historic Village: