[Courtesy Photo]

When Grand County native Cricket Green learned that she’d been chosen as the county’s honoree for the National Day of the American Cowboy at the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo earlier this month, she didn’t believe it.

“When I first got the letter, I thought it was a fake!” she said.

Green grew up on White’s Ranch, now the site of Red Cliffs Lodge along Highway 128. She lived the legend of the American West as a fifth-generation rancher, herding cattle on horseback as a young child and later participating in rodeos. She was a rodeo queen in 1978, and years later, in 2002, her daughter was also rodeo queen. Cricket and her husband, Kent Green, were active members of the Canyonlands Rodeo Committee for ten years. Cricket’s background certainly qualifies her as an embodiment of the cowboy lifestyle, but she was still surprised—she said she hasn’t been involved in the ranch or the rodeo for years.

She showed the letter to Kent, with whom she runs the local Moab Cowboy adventure tour company. She also called her friend Wendie Flitton, who, along with her husband, runs Canyonlands Rodeo. Wendie told Cricket that she certainly deserved the honor—she’d lived the cowboy life for decades, and kept the image alive in the name of her tour guiding business.

“I got tears in my eyes thinking, ‘This is real, and it’s me!” Cricket said.

The National Day of the American Cowboy was first proposed in the U.S. Senate in 2005, and has been sponsored by both the US House of Representatives and Senate and recognized by several states as a day to celebrate and preserve the American cowboy culture, according to the nonprofit National Day of the Cowboy website. Ogden Pioneer Days is an annual festival commemorating the settlement of Ogden and includes a rodeo, parades, fireworks, art walks, concerts and more. The festival honors one or two representatives from each Utah county every year for “their contributions to promoting and preserving the cowboy way of life.”

Cricket was nominated by the 2019 Grand County honoree, Kortney Backus, who has also served as a rodeo queen and comes from a ranching background in Grand County.

Green attended the Ogden Pioneer Days festival, where she was recognized in front of applauding crowds and awarded an engraved stone plaque that she said “must weigh about 25 pounds!” She was especially glad that her husband and two adult children were there.

“It was a pretty big honor,” Cricket said.