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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

All Hat, No Cows

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

By Dennis Sun

From Wall Street to Los Angeles, the fashion world is seeing hats and boots worn by a lot of people nowadays, and as many of us know, it was brought on by the hit TV series “Yellowstone.”

Those of us with a little gray hair, remember the movie “Urban Cowboy” from the 1980s, which started a movement similar to what we see today. It lasted a few years, but quietly died down. This time, I think the fad will last longer, especially if the TV series continues releasing new seasons. 

Those of us in the West call hats and boots just that – hats and boots. Everybody else calls them cowboy hats and cowboy boots. I think it is alright to be thought of in this way and will gladly share the meaning. 

There is now a hatmaker selling old beat up and dirty hats for the full effect. This new fashion trend is called “Westerncore.”

When “Yellowstone” first started playing on TV screens throughout the country, I thought it put ranchers in a bad light. People from the cities started believing this was how all ranchers in the West acted – shouting profanities, drinking a lot of whiskey and beating up men and women alike. 

It sure didn’t reflect the Western values and role models we actually hold close, such as the Cowboy Code of the West. Now, people are using the phrases “cowboy up” and “ride for the brand,” with little understanding of what these actually mean.

The series has now begun to depict some issues ranchers battle on a daily basis – wolves, brucellosis, drought, low margins of profit and invading development eroding our open spaces. It is good for the general public to realize these issues are real and make ranching and farming a very hard way of life.

The difference between our actual Western way of life and the way of life this series depicts, is we sit down at the table and try to solve our issues face to face, instead of throwing people we disagree with off of a cliff or beating them up.  

“Yellowstone” has had a large effect on the tourism industry across the Intermountain West, and the economy from filming the series in Montana has certainly profited. 

In fact, Montana says the series brought in an estimated 2.1 million visitors to the state, and those visitors spent close to $730 million. It has caused the cost of a single-family home in Bozeman, Mont. to rise from $660,000 in 2021 to $811,000 in 2022. The average sale price of working ranches has risen over $2 million.

Montana figures spending tied to tourism and the cost of production of the series in the state is huge. State officials say it brought in $44.5 million in state tax revenues, 10,200 jobs and 3,305 more people moving to the state due to increased economic opportunity in 2022. 

Like other fads, this one will not last forever, but it’s fun to see it grow and watch people take advantage of the economic impacts. We hope “Yellowstone” viewers recognize our real values and try not to change us, both in lifestyle and political views. 

I imagine a good snowbank and a creek full of mosquitoes will send some packing for home, but if they want a well-worn, ratty hat and a pair of duct-taped boots to take with them, I have some for sale.

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