An older man standing with his arms crossed by a cabinet filled with knickknacks
Kelly Scott spends most Saturday afternoons visiting with folks at his chuckwagon during the recurring Cowboys on Main event.
Bandera’s roots as a cowboy haven date to just after the Civil War. The town used to host teams of drivers and Longhorns as they forged their way north on the Western Trail, heading to Kansas and Nebraska to sell Texas cattle. The route’s tenure was cut short after Longhorns spread disease to northern livestock, resulting in a ban on Texas cattle in other states and territories. But the Central Texas town’s reputation for cowboy culture endured. Since the 1920s, rodeos, dance halls, and dude ranches have wrangled tourists from all parts of the world. Bandera’s Kelly Scott grew up dazzled by Roy Rogers and the image of the American cowboy. He found himself shoeing and driving horses and wagons in Bandera, and even playing cowboys in TV shows and movies. He once had a cameo in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and remembers driving stars Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds around on set. Folks exploring Bandera can catch him in the town square on Saturday mornings with his beloved chuckwagon, performing in shootouts for weekend visitors.

Hitched and Hired

“I quit school in the ninth grade and hitchhiked to Bandera [from Bayside]. An old man in a little bobtail truck brings me to the Purple Cow Saloon, and it had them old swinging doors, just like in Western movies. A woman at the bar said, ‘Can we help you?’ And I said, ‘I was just wondering if any one of these ranches around here are hiring.’ And one of the drunks said, ‘Oh son, you’re too late. After Labor Day, they shut down.’ I no more than took a swallow of my Coke, then here comes this lady through those swinging doors and says, ‘I need a dude wrangler for three days at the Dixie Dude Ranch.’”

Confessions of a Rodeo Clown

“I’d been a clown since I was 16 years old— until I got married and my wife’s daddy did not like it. He said, ‘You can be a clown, but you’re going to get hurt, and we ain’t takin’ care of you.’ One of the worst things about my rodeo clowning was the slobber. Them bulls would be slinging their heads and slobber going everywhere. And you know I had my nice makeup on, and that damn slobber—it’s a wonder I’m alive today because I couldn’t see well.”

Wagon Wheel

“I had fooled around with wagons on different ranches, and I really liked that wagon business. When I got to the Flying L [Ranch Resort], they had a chuckwagon. The man who was in charge said, ‘Oh, that wagon hasn’t been hooked up in 10 years.’ He said, ‘If you want to start driving it, we’ll do it.’ So, I started driving that wagon and taking 10 to 15 people. We had cowboy breakfasts out in the field. I got my own wagon in 1963, and I’ve been going since then.”

Grub Trudge

“I make stew and peach cobbler. Beans, chili, and biscuits and gravy—that was the real main thing cowboys ate. Everybody thinks they ate barbecue. That took too long to cook. These cattle drives, it’d be like 2,000 head of cattle and just 15 or 16 guys taking care of them. So they wouldn’t stop for lunch because it’s too much trouble. They’d basically eat jerky and stuff they’d carry in their saddlebags.”

Cowboy Code

“I was raised with real cowboys. The real good cowboys are honest. The only contract they had was a handshake. Back in them days, a handshake was a big deal. It don’t mean nothing now—it means you might catch something.”

Wild Wild West

“My first little acting gunfight deal was with Bob Hope. Before he died, he would do these TV narrated shows. The name of this program was, A New Look at Texas, or something, and they wanted to do some flashback scenes of how the Wild West was. I played gunfighter for lots of areas around here. Then I just quit, because, you know, it’s silly. But one of the boys wanted me to get back in, and he said, ‘Kelly, you won’t have to die. You just do the shootin.’”

Town Trivia:


Number of Stoplights:

Year founded:

Nearest City:
San Antonio, 55 miles southeast

Cowboys on Main every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Map it:

Bandera County Courthouse, 500 Main St.

From the July 2023 issue

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