…...is definitely a family bucket list item for all Texans and everyone interested in western frontier history!
The Texas Cowboys' Christmas Ball was first held in 1885 in Anson. Its 80th consecutive re-enactment will be held there on December 18, 19 & 20. This annual family winter holiday celebration includes traditional western music, dancing, listening, refreshments and fellowship. It is always open to the public.
Historic Pioneer Hall in Anson has been the Ball location since completion of its construction in 1940. The Ball and Hall are designated as an official state historical event and site by the Texas Historical Commission to promote its historic preservation and celebrate its Texas history.
The Ball was first memorialized by rancher-poet Larry Chittenden with his famous poem “The Cowboys' Christmas Ball” (Ranch Verses, Knickerbocker Press/New York, 1893). The poem with music was published in the John Lomax classic compilation “Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads” (Macmillan Company, 1910). The poem with music was performed by cowboy folklorist Gordon Graham who sang it at the 1946 Ball. The Ball is portrayed in the large 1930s mural in the US Post Office at Anson and the 1939 watercolor painting by Maxine Walker Perini on permanent display at the Abilene Grace Museum. It is the acknowledged genesis for the “Cowboy Christmas” concerts held throughout the USA by American's #1 Cowboy Singer Michael Martin Murphey and his Rio Grande Band. They have highlighted the Ball one night for the past 20 years (Thursday this year). Muddy Creek is the Ball house band that plays other nights (Friday & Saturday).
“DANCIN' IN ANSON – A History of The Texas Cowboys' Christmas Ball” (Texas Tech University Press, 2014) written by Dr. Paul H. Carlson, emeritus professor of history at Texas Tech University, was recently published and released in time for this year's Ball. It is a classic and the preeminent history of the legendary Ball that may be purchased at the Ball or through ttupress.org.
The Texas Cowboys' Christmas Ball Association owns as well as maintains Pioneer Hall and conducts the annual 3 day Ball. It is a non-profit Texas corporation organized in 1937, an IRS 501(3)(c) tax-exempt public historical and educational charity, and composed of non-paid members who voluntarily contribute their time, service and resources. The Ball was copyrighted in 1937 and remains the exclusive property of the Association.
1885 Ball rules remain in effect. Ladies are required to wear dresses on the dance floor. Gentlemen must check in hats, spurs and guns. No drinking, smoking, spitting, fighting, cussing or riding horses is allowed in the Hall.
Thursday, Dec 18 – Michael Martin Murphey & his Rio Grande Band ($20).
Friday, Dec 19 – Muddy Creek Band & square dance exhibition ($10 adults, $5 seniors & ages 13-18, children 12 & under + active duty military free).
Saturday, Dec 20 – Muddy Creek Band & Texas Santa with candy for kids ($10 adults, $5 seniors & ages 13-18, children 12 & under + active duty military free).
The nightly Ball begins at 8pm and concludes at 12 midnight in Pioneer Hall, 2300 Avenue G, Anson, TX 79501. It is always held the Thursday, Friday & Saturday before December 25th. Additional information may be obtained from the musical website at www.ansoncowboyschristmasball or by calling (325) 537-2589.
“Way out in western Texas, where the Clear Fork's waters flow,
Where the cattle are a-browzin, and the Spanish ponies grow...
Where the antelope is grazin' and the lonely plovers call -
It was there that I attended 'The Cowboys' Christmas Ball'...
Don't tell me 'bout cotillions, or Germans. No sir-'ee!
That whirl at Anson city just takes the cake with me...
...I sha'n't forget yer, and I'll oftentimes recall,
That lively gaited sworray – 'The Cowboys' Christmas Ball.”
Larry Chittenden (“The Cowboys' Christmas Ball”)
(Texas Cowboys' Christmas Ball Association Historian who resides & ranches in West Texas)