Local cowboys take over Helena City Hall

Children learned about the music of many countries as they donned representational hats and added to the beat with their own instruments at 2B Ranch’s Wild West Show. (Contributed)

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

In what was surely a first, the City Hall council room rang with a melodic voice carrying forth with the lyrics of “Home on the Range.” Moments before, a genuine rootin’ tootin’ cowboy had herded up the young boys and girls present, and outfitted them with proper headgear, plus an appointed and aproned camp cook for the long haul of moving westward with the cows and steers.

The occasion was a special visit from Cowboy Bruce Brannen, who cracked his whip and manipulated his lasso into some pretty amazing gyrations. Dressed in his official 2B brand emblazoned leather boots, he also proved to be quite an ace with his bullwhip, as he snapped into a long-stemmed rose held by his brave assistant, Vernie, between her teeth and a lit cigarette (well, actually a glowstick) held in his own lips.

Cowboy Bruce has other talent — one might not think it particularly cowboyish — as an accomplished artist. Working in both pen and ink and pastel/paint, he depicts Wild West scenes with accompanying horses, cowboys, Indians, boots and buildings or trading posts.

His business card also mentions cowboy poetry. Each child present received a black- and-white sketch autographed by Cowboy Bruce.

To my mind, this program modeled a great example of how we all learn best when all our senses are involved. Singing, dancing, dramatizing — participating by movement — always ensures that we remember more of the experience, thus acquiring knowledge.

This entertaining program was part of Make A Splash, this year’s Jane Holmes Library Summer Reading Program, which is in full swing each Wednesday at 2 p.m. Cowboy Bruce also encouraged every young cowboy and cowgirl present to remember to read.

For the upcoming Independence Day holiday, the city of Helena welcomes everyone to a family evening of fun, food and fireworks in Old Town and the Amphitheater on Saturday, July 2.

Adult beverages will be available. Bring your chairs or blanket, but no coolers or beverages may be brought in.

Arts and crafts vendors will be set up along the sidewalks beginning at 4 p.m. and Golden Rule Bar-B-Q, Carmella’s Ice and Top It Off Yogurt will have offerings available. Music starts at 6 p.m. with Carson James Sumpter performing.

“We know that our citizens love the music and the fireworks,” said Mayor Penhale, “but it is our sponsors who help make that happen. The city wishes to thank Golden Rule Bar-B-Q, Cam Ward, In Memory of Larry Childers, Allstate, VaraTech Solutions, U.S. Teks, Top It Off Yogurt and M1 Photography.”

The evening will culminate with the band U.S. performing onstage, covering everyone’s favorite ‘80s rock ‘n roll hits and fireworks following at 9:30 p.m.

Laura Brookhart can be reached by email at labro16@yahoo.com.