The term “sidewalk cattleman” was invented by 1941 Madisonville Meteor editor Henry Fox. Fox wrote about people wearing cowboy boots around town who didn’t own any cows. The idea took hold, and an organization was formed, complete with rules for wearing cowboy boots and penalties to be assessed for infractions of those rules. Today, the custom is to dunk violators in the horse trough on the courthouse lawn. So, beware when you come through Madisonville wearing cowboy boots. Be prepared to defend your right to wear your boots, or you could find yourself taking an unexpected bath in the watering trough!
You have to own at least two heads of cows to be entitled to wear boots. If you own three head of cows, then you can wear one pants leg stuffed in a boot; owners of four head can stuff both pants legs in; and, if you own six or more, then you can wear both pants legs stuffed in your boots plus spurs.
There’s been many a “sidewalk cowboy” that’s found himself drenched from head to boot, including the late Congressman Charlie Wilson, portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie Charlie Wilson’s War. Each year, the Madisonville Sidewalk Cattlemen’s Association sponsors a number of events, with proceeds going into a scholarship fund for deserving Madison County students. Information on this year’s schedule is below. For more info, visit sidewalkcattlemens.com.