Destination Spotlight – National Ranching Heritage Center
One of my favorite attractions in Lubbock is the National Ranching Heritage Center (NRHC). You can not only see, but fully experience the Old West at this magical place. I couldn’t wait to feature them as the Destination Spotlight! I caught up with Julie Hodges, the Helen DeVitt Jones endowed manager of education, to learn more about the facility.
What can visitors experience at the NRHC?
The NRHC, located on the Texas Tech University campus, is a 27.5 acre museum and historical park with 50 ranching structures and objects dating back to the early 19th century. In addition to the historical park, the NRHC has 38 life-size bronze outdoor art pieces and a 44,000 square foot museum building with six galleries featuring permanent, as well as temporary exhibits of art, photography and artifacts that capture historical and contemporary Western life. A dynamic institution that tells ranching’s story, the NRHC also provides a range of educational programs for children, youth and adults focusing on pioneer history, western culture, natural resource management and other current and historical ranching subjects.
The Ranching Heritage Association (RHA), the NRHC’s support organization, was conceived by ranchers and historians who recognized the need to preserve ranching history and traditions and was chartered as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation in 1969. The RHA was established to preserve the physical, social and cultural aspects of ranching and assist in developing, interpreting and maintaining public interest and educational programs about ranching. RHA hosts and supports special events, art and artifact shows and exhibits, award programs, publications as well as seminars and symposiums supporting the NRHC mission.
What are some annual events at the NRHC?
Candlelight at the Ranch
This year, Candlelight at the Ranch will celebrate the traditional spirit of a pioneer Christmas. This annual holiday event offers a glimpse into the past as visitors experience yuletide celebrations that took place on the open prairie more than 100 years ago.
Spend some time in the Old West during Ranch Day. Activities like rope making, leather stamping, horseback riding, chuck wagons, paint cattle branding and more can be enjoyed by young visitors, and for the adults we will have guides in period clothing in each structure that will share stories of pioneer days. Also, enjoy viewing some of the spurs and firearms in the NRHC’s collection.
The RHA invites everyone to enjoy an evening of art, music, food and dancing at Summer Stampede. Twenty noted artists and artisans will be featured with exquisite works (paintings, sculptures, spurs, bits, leatherwork) on sale at the event. A buffet dinner will be served, and there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy some awesome art, eat, drink and mingle before the Summer Stampede Dance.
Golden Spur Award Ceremony
The National Golden Spur Award is a joint recognition of an outstanding rancher by some of the industry’s leading organizations, among them the American Quarter Horse Association, National Cattlemen’s Foundation, RHA, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association and Texas Farm Bureau.
What is the featured exhibit currently on display?
The History of Beef Cattle Breeds. This exhibit show how modern ranchers depend on specially developed genetics, production techniques and data to produce beef. The story of beef cattle breeds in the United States is an interesting one, cast with many characters. Production, grains, processing, technology and marketing have all driven the industry to where we are today – an industry that provides high-quality protein for millions of consumers around the world. This exhibit brings the timeline of the beef cattle industry to life, featuring the history of the industry, a unique collection of photographs, life-size models of cattle and interactive kiosks.
If you haven’t had a chance to visit the NRHC, it’s a must-see! Here are the fast facts:
Location: 3121 4th St.
Hours of Operation: Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.