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A glimpse of the cowboy lifestyle

Posted: September 13, 2008 9:57 p.m.
Updated: November 15, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Sisters Siron, 9, left, and Garnier Mani, 10, work on arts and crafts projects. Saturday's ranch event at the Hart Museum ranch house brought about 30 families out to play cowboy style.

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Natasha Tobler was busy at work on Saturday gluing colorful beads to a pink sheet of construction paper cut out as a pair of cowboy boots.

With her legs dangling from the chair, the 5-year-old watched other kids make their Western-inspired decorations as her mother, Tracy, stood behind her and looked on.

The mother and daughter from Saugus had just completed a tour of the William S. Hart Ranch and Museum's farm, giving Natasha and around 10 other families a close-up look at horses, pigs, donkeys and a mix of other animals.

"I've never seen a big pig before," she said at the craft table.

Petting the horses was the highlight of the day.

"I like the horses," she said with a shy smile on her face.

While the pair have been to the museum before through school field trips, Tracy liked how Ranch Days was a new kind of event.

"It's something different with cowboys," she said.

The farm tour and craft time was one aspect of the historical park's first Ranch Day, which gave preschool and elementary school-aged kids a glimpse of the cowboy lifestyle.

Kristin Van Wy, education and collections coordinators for the park, said the Newhall museum already organizes outreach efforts at elementary schools. However she wanted to create an event for the younger kids that would be interactive and educational.

Saturday's event brought around 30 families and Van Wy hopes Ranch Days will turn into an annual one.

"Hopefully in the future we can make it bigger," she said.

Outside the Ranch House, children gathered around the craft table to make cowboy boot decorations, cowboy vests out of paper bags and art supplies and rattlesnakes from uncooked pasta. At another table, families listened to volunteers discuss the clothing cowboys wore while another station featured volunteers talking about the food cowboys ate decades ago.

Denise Riley and her 6-year-old daughter Imani picked up a recipe from the "chuck wagon" table.

The pair made their first trip to the museum from Lancaster. Riley said she when found out about Ranch Day, she figured it would be a good opportunity for her daughter to learn about the cowboy lifestyle.

Plus it gave Denise a way to pick up new Western-inspired recipes for Imani to try out.

"She likes to cook," Denise said.

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