Monday, August 27, 2012

Cows In The Heritage Area

In our heritage area this weekend you'll find a fascinating look at the intertwined history of the Irish and cattle here in Kansas City, an exploration and explanation of our "Celtic Pride in Cowtown" slogan. Written by Pat O'Neill, by the authority on all things Irish in KC, you won't want to miss it.

And for those of you who've wondered about our bovine beauties and why we adopted a cow as our mascot, here's a rerun of an explanation first published a few years back.

"What's The Deal With The Cow?" I get this question once in awhile. We all do occasionally here at Irish Fest HQ. I heard it on local talk radio a few days ago. Most people understand it. They see the little tag line we use, "Celtic Pride in Cowtown" and they say, "Oh, right. Kansas City. Cowtown. A cow. I get it."

They get it. But not everybody likes it. This might sound silly to some of you outside Kansas City, but some people here get really bent out of shape when they hear our fair city referred to as a Cowtown. They're quick to point out that the stockyards closed years ago. That we're a thriving, modern metropolis, with culture and class and big league sports and events you can wear tuxedos to and whatnot. Nary a bovine in sight.

All true. I know I haven't run across a cow around here in years. I also know that this coming weekend, Crown Center will be full of happy people, most of whom are not from Ireland, many of whom have never visited Ireland, all proudly declaring themselves to be Irish. Is that wrong? Of course not. And that's the point.

We're a people who cherish our history, who hold on to it for all we're worth, through thousands of miles and sometimes hundreds of years because we value that sense of belonging, that sense of an ancient and sometimes distant kinship to a powerful past and a shared identity. We understand that the past isn't something to run away from, but rather what molds us and makes us who we are, and who we want to be.

Same thing with Cowtown. Or at least we think it should be. Kansas City most certainly was built on the strong backs of cattle and the men who drove them here. And on the backs of Irish laborers and strong Irish women.

Kansas City is a cowtown. It is a railroad town. It is a river town, a jazz town, a barbeque town.

And Labor Day weekend, more than any of those, Kansas City is an Irish town."

1 comment:

Greg said...

As someone who comes from the Dallas/Ft Worth area each year, I was taken aback at first by the label of "Cowtown", since WE know Ft Worth as Cowtown. But it was nothing a little education and common sense couldn't cure. Both cities have rich histories with the cattle industry and deservedly share the label. Can't wait to celebrate to share in the celebration in "Cowtown" again this year.