Hardin Simmons University hosted Western Heritage Day this year on April 22, 2021. According to HSU’s website, “Western Heritage Day is an annual educational event designed to immerse children of the Big Country in western culture as it might have been in Abilene during the 1800s.”
Approximately 1,000 students and their teachers spent time on the HSU campus while taking part in various western-related activities to learn about and commemorate Western heritage. The university planned various booths, crafts, demonstrations and activities in order to highlight the life and legacy of Western Texans of a bygone era.
Cassie Mattern, events coordinator at HSU, shared her thoughts on being able to host the event this year.
“There's a sense we're taking a step forward,” Mattern said. “A lot of our (university) students are feeling COVID-19 fatigue, so this is an exciting thing to open back up. We want people to come on campus, we want to give them a look at the history of the west and give them a hands-on experience."
Some traditional events were modified to comply with COVID protocols. For example, instead of a face painting booth, children enjoyed making hats, practicing lassoing and branding wood with the letters, “HSU.” There were a total of 21 different stations offered, ranging from HSU’s Six White Horses and World Famous Cowboy Band, to storytelling, animal petting and roping demonstrations. It is always heartwarming to see such spectacles such as children lining up for the various events, being locked in the “jail,” or the sight of massive longhorns grazing on Anderson Lawn.
HSU Western Heritage Day is always free for all Big Country day care providers and primary-aged students and schools. HSU is glad to be able to celebrate important West Texas history with each new generation. Many HSU students, faculty and staff were encouraged by the children and spent a safe time learning and teaching. We loved hosting this event again this year and are looking forward to many more to come.