Two Texas towns call themselves the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” but which one truly deserves the title?

If you visit the websites of Bandera and Stephenville, you’ll see that both proudly lay claim to the title. And after learning more about both towns thanks to a 2021 article by Texas Highways, I can see how both feel they’ve earned the distinction.

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Being from North Texas, I’m very familiar with Stephenville, which is located southwest of Fort Worth. I pass through there every time I’m headed to Austin, which is typically at least once a year.

Pull into the downtown square at lunchtime on any given day and you’ll see trucks pulling horse or cattle trailers parked everywhere. Yes, the cowboy way is strong in Stephenville. Aside from that, the downtown area just gives off a cool old west vibe, in general.

In contrast, I’ve never been to Bandera, but I need to visit sooner rather than later. The little old town located northwest of San Antonio has the official distinction of being the “Cowboy Capital of the World.” Bandera earned the state designation back in 2013, thanks largely to the hard work of Eleanora Dugosh Goodley.

While both towns make a good case for calling themselves the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” they’re both home to different types of cowboys.

While there are plenty of ranches in the area, Stephenville is known more for rodeo cowboys. The city hosts the annual Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA rodeo and is home to Tarleton State University, whose rodeo team has won 8 national championships.

On the other hand, you'll find more ranch cowboys roaming about Bandera. Of course, where there are ranches, there are rodeos. And Bandera also hosts a pro rodeo.

Ultimately, it’s hard to make an argument for or against either of the towns calling themselves the “Cowboy Capital of the World.” And I, for one, am perfectly fine with both laying claim to the distinction.

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