More Features

Vaquero Heritage Days in San Juan Bautista celebrates the cowboy and the culture

Event at St. Francis Retreat promotes the history of the vaquero style.
Horseman Chantz Albrecht mans a vendor booth at the event in 2016. File photo

The Vaquero Heritage Days started Friday, Aug. 17 and goes through Aug. 19 at St. Francis Retreat near San Juan Bautista, celebrating the history of the vaquero -- the name for the first cowboy in the region. 

The weekend will showcase everything related to the Vaquero era such as cowboy gear, ranch fine art, jewelry, books, music, and horsemanship presentations.

Vaquero is a culture with a specific saddle and gear from the earliest days of Spanish California through the Mission Era. According the Vaquero Heritage Days website, “The best of the vaqueros were often referred to as "Californios". It explains that these men excelled in the art of making a horse as light and flexible to the rider's soft touch, as is said work as "one".”

The culture continues today in horsemanship, saddle and gear-making as well as fine art and jewelry.

Vaquero Heritage Days benefits the significant 73-acre St. Francis Retreat and is expected to be an educational experience of California’s unique vaquero heritage.

Friday night’s grand opening of the artisan show and Dave Stamey concert is already sold out.

The event continues Saturday through Sunday with presentations, vendors and show of the vaquero culture.

Artists Shannon Lawlor and Juni Fisher will be there along with vaquero-style demos by Jeffery Mundell, Heather Kornemann, Buddy Montes, Jo Johnson, and Jeff Derby.

Tickets for the event will be sold at the door for $10. There will be a chef-prepared lunch and beverages.

Jane Merrill, owner of Southwest Roundup Studio Gallery in San Juan Bautista, started the Vaquero Heritage Days in 2010, and in 2012 moved the event to the St. Francis Retreat.

For more information on the Vaquero Heritage Days, go to



BenitoLink Logo

Become a Member Today

Support your local independent news.

We work hard to give you the news and information you need. By becoming a member, you will be part of something bigger; BenitoLink, your community-supported news source.


bstrohn's picture
Blaire Strohn (bstrohn)

Blaire Strohn is a graduate student at Oklahoma State University focusing on International Agriculture. Blaire also graduated from California State University, Fresno with a Bachelors Degree in Agriculture Communications. Born and raised on a cow/calf operation ranch in Paicines, she is passionate about the agriculture community and western way of life.

Add new comment

Add Facebook comment

Comment using your Facebook account. Facebook comments will be published on this page, and on Facebook. It will not be posted to the "Recent Comments" list on the BenitoLink front page.