Sunday, July 5, 2009

Hispanic Cowboy wins history award

Cowboy Roper Wins Living History Center Award:
Making California Vaquero History Fun

Woodland, CA – The Living History Center has recognized cowboy trick roper, James Barrera, for his innovative arts-education performances in California schools. The center has awarded Barrera with a $1,000 grant to introduce for his “living history” presentations to schools in Yolo County.

Barrera has long been acclaimed by educators for his exciting living history presentations to students throughout California. Utilizing his lassos, whips and storytelling abilities, Barrera, tells folk tales of such legendary Western personalities as the “Mexican Robin Hood” Joaquin Murrieta, cowboy humorist Will Rogers and trick shooter Annie Oakley. Although, Barrera brings an old fashioned showmanship to the stage, he showcases California vaquero history with a creative twist. He thrills his audience by working individual students into his trick roping and whip cracking routines.

”The Living History Center is very impressed with the quality of work that James Barrera has done in schools throughout the Central Valley,” said Ray Tatar, chairman for the Living History Center. “What James does in the schools should be done all over the state. That whole period of California history seems to be missing from the educational system. Students are missing out on the historic and cultural contributions the vaqueros made to California and the American West. James provides that information with great flair.”

In 2008, the education outreach program for the Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival selected Barrera as the lead performer to entertain students at Colton Elementary and King Middle school. Barrera has been a feature performer at California’s most iconic and eclectic events including Old Sacramento’s Gold Rush Days; the Henry Miller Wild West Weekend; the Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival; the Pena Adobe Fandango; the Earthquake Festival and the California State Fair.

Because of his published work, Barrera is regarded as a California vaquero historian and expert on the art of trick roping and whip cracking techniques. Barrera has been the subject of several television profiles, including KVIE Channel 6’s Central Valley Chronicles and KMAX’s Channel 31’s Good Day, Sacramento, as well as a recent Sacramento Bee feature, “Rope Artist Stays in the Loop.”

“This award allows us the opportunity to introduce Yolo County educators to our living history presentations,” said JAB Production spokesperson, Lucinda Barrera. “The Yolo County Arts Council will coordinate with James in outreach to schools throughout the region. What better promoter than James, lasso in hand and his unique ability to bring history alive for the students. The end result, kids will have so much fun learning about California culture and history.”

In addition to festival and special event performances, many California schools schedule Barrera to entertain at their assemblies. Teachers often bring him into classrooms to discuss the history of the California vaqueros. He’s also conducted smaller presentations for blind, Downs-syndrome and autistic children who are being mainstreamed into public schools.

Californian, born and bred, Barrera is one of the few cowboy performers to acknowledge the deep and profound influences the native vaqueros carved into the culture of the Golden State and the American Southwest.

Contact Information:

- The Living History Center supports the teaching of history and culture by funding projects throughout California. For additional information write to the Living History Center, 28 Lucky Drive, Greenbrae, CA 94904.
- For more information on the Yolo County Arts Council arts-education program, call (530) 406-4844, or go to
- To obtain more information on Barrera’s performance, workshop and educational outreach work, go to

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