Longmire Days Hasn’t Been Canceled But Actors' Strike Is Throwing A Wrench Into Everything

Longmire Days hasn't been canceled but unless a waiver is granted, none of the actors from the fictional TV show will appear at the event. Organizers say they are trying hard to gain that waiver.

WC
Wendy Corr

July 20, 20238 min read

Longmire 7 18 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

UPDTE: Longmire Actors Get Waiver From SAG, Actors Can Participate In Longmire Days

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story, below, was reported before the actors had pulled out of Longmire Days because of the SAG-AFTRA actors and writers strike.

The actors’ strike looks to be having a big impact on the annual "Longmire Days" celebration this weekend in Buffalo, Wyoming.

Late Wednesday, organizers of the annual celebration dedicated to fictional sheriff Walt Longmire received notice that the actors on the popular TV show would likely not be able to appear.

“When Robert Taylor, Louanne Stephens and Derek Phillips arrived in Buffalo, we all learned that they would not be able to appear at that time without a wavier due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike,” organizers said.

They said they were working overnight to gain the waiver from the Screen Actors Guild, “but so far have not received it.”

“This means that no actors will be making scheduled appearances at events at this time at our Longmire Days charity event,” they said.

Taylor, who played the role of Sheriff Walt Longmire in the series, said he’s been a member of SAG for decades and will not appear at the event unless they get a waiver.

“I will not do anything in defiance of a union I support and have been a member of for decades. I won’t be attending any events until my union signs off on it,” he said.

In the meantime, organizers said the show will likely go on — with or without the actors.

“Events will continue, as possible, but just without the actors,” Longmire Days organizers said in a Thursday Facebook post. “Craig Johnson has jumped in on the trail ride this morning. As soon as we have some clarity on the situation we'll pass on that information immediately and make appropriate adjustments, but it is a very fluid situation.”

ORIGINAL STORY BELOW

Craig Johnson calls it a “$28 contract.”

That’s the agreement he strikes with every reader of every book he has written about Walt Longmire, the endearing (and seemingly indestructible) sheriff of fictional Absaroka County, Wyoming. 

“It’s a $28 contract between me and every reader that buys one of my books,” Johnson told Cowboy State Daily. “And so I need to make sure that I'm giving them the best quality product, the best quality book, that I possibly can. If not, why bother? I'll go do something else. I'll go dig ditches rather than try and produce something that I think is inferior.”

Johnson’s attention to detail and ability to bring colorful characters to life has earned him dedicated fans who have eagerly consumed all 24 of his Longmire mysteries, tuned in to a wildly popular television series based on the books and made possible an annual celebration in Buffalo that draws thousands from all over the country to interact with stars of the TV show.

Longmire Days

Since 2011, dedicated fans of the “Longmire” book and television series have flocked to Buffalo, Wyoming, the inspiration for the fictional town of Durant and setting for Johnson’s bestselling franchise. 

“I don't know that many festivals there are for a series of books and a television show,” said Johnson. “I know that there's one for Mayberry down there in North Carolina that they've had going for years and years and years, but I can't really come up with very many like the one that we've got here in Buffalo, or Durant, as it's going to be called this weekend.”

Beginning Thursday, thousands are expected to mosey into town for a four-day celebration and rub elbows with series stars Robert Taylor (Sheriff Walt), Louanne Stephens (Dispatcher Ruby), John Bishop (recurring character Bob Barnes) and Derek Phillips (recurring character Travis Murphy).

Jennifer McCormick, director of the Longmire Foundation, which puts on the annual celebration, said many of the scheduled events for the weekend have already sold out.

“Ticket sales are looking good,” she told Cowboy State Daily. “At this point, we really don't know how many people were expecting. It's our second year that we've been back since COVID where we've actually had an actor attend. Last year, it was Robert Taylor. This year, we have four actors.”

  • Longmire author Craig Johnson.
    Longmire author Craig Johnson. (Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily)
  • "Longmire" star Robert Taylor, right, mugs for the camera with a fan.
    "Longmire" star Robert Taylor, right, mugs for the camera with a fan. (Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily)
  • Fans line up for autographs at Longmire Days 2022.
    Fans line up for autographs at Longmire Days 2022. (Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily)
  • Show star Robert Taylor, aka Walt Longmire, chats with fans at an autograph session in 2022.
    Show star Robert Taylor, aka Walt Longmire, chats with fans at an autograph session in 2022. (Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily)
  • "Longmire" star Robert Taylor, center, poses for photos with fans at an autograph session in 2022.
    "Longmire" star Robert Taylor, center, poses for photos with fans at an autograph session in 2022. (Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily)

‘The Longmire Defense’

Among the events in Buffalo this weekend is a talk with Johnson, who will preview the 25th book in the Longmire series, titled “The Longmire Defense.”

“Last year, we added an event just strictly for (Craig) to talk about his new book,” said McCormick. “And that sells out so fast. All he does is read from the book and answer questions about the book, but it has really become popular.”

This will be Johnson’s first outing to promote “The Longmire Defense,” which he will take on tour after its official release in September.

“”For me it's a warm-up, because I've got, like, a 26-city tour coming up in September,” he said. “I'm always telling people, whenever they come to that first event here at Longmire Days, ‘OK, the good news is, this is the very first ‘Longmire Defense’ event that you're going to be a part of. And the bad news, this is the very first ‘Longmire Defense’ event that you're going to be part of. So, I may not have my schtick polished at this very first event.’”

The new book delves into the mysterious death of a state official decades earlier and its connection with Walt’s grandfather, Lloyd Longmire.

“It  goes back into Walt’s relationship with his grandfather, so it’s a pretty intricate mystery like that,” said Johnson, “but also very telling of the Longmire family.”

Hollywood Strike

Johnson said as the weekend approached there was concern that some of the actors might not attend because of the ongoing Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild strikes. As it happened, one major star of the show was unable to come to Buffalo because of the ongoing union disputes.

“One of the great losses this year was that A Martinez and his family were going to do their own family concert,” said Johnson. “A is just one of the most magnificent human beings you could ever possibly want to meet, but he's also very, very, very connected politically with the unions.”

Johnson said Martinez wrote a heartfelt letter to the organizers about his inability to attend.

“As much as it killed him to do it, he wasn't going to be able to make it to Longmire Days this year simply because he will be out there on the sidewalks of Los Angeles walking with a picket sign for that organization,” he said.

However, the actors who are attending got approval from the union to appear at Longmire Days.

“The good news is that it's a charitable organization and charitable event,” said Johnson. “And so they got dispensation, a lot of our actors did, to be able to come and do the event.”

  • Fans line the streets of Buffalo for Longmire Days 2019.
    Fans line the streets of Buffalo for Longmire Days 2019. (Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily)
  • Fans line up for autographs at Longmire Days 2022.
    Fans line up for autographs at Longmire Days 2022. (Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily)
  • Banner promoting fictional character Walt Longmire for Sheriff in Buffalo.
    Banner promoting fictional character Walt Longmire for Sheriff in Buffalo. (Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily)
  • A Longmire fan shows off her Longmire-inspired tattoos.
    A Longmire fan shows off her Longmire-inspired tattoos. (Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily)
  • Downtown Buffalo businesses show their support for Longmire Days.
    Downtown Buffalo businesses show their support for Longmire Days. (Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily)

Tourism Boost

McCormick said Buffalo is completely supportive of the annual celebration, now in its 12th year, which transforms the sleepy town at the base of the Bighorns into Durant, the setting for mayhem, murder and mysteries otherwise not often seen in these parts.

“Our downtown local businesses and people that we've talked to are excited,” said McCormick. “It's kind of in back in more of its previous form before COVID.”

Johnson echoed his gratitude to the community for supporting Longmire Days, despite the chaos that inevitably comes with an influx of thousands of people over one weekend.

“We were very fortunate that we have a community that really kind of backs this up and sees it as a benefit,” he said. 

Johnson said he’s glad that Longmire Days brings an economic boost to the community that he owes so much to.

“It does so much for the community that I borrowed so much from in doing the books, and from the state that I owe so much for all the work that I've been able to put out,” said Johnson. “I wouldn't be able to do it if it wasn't for the state of Wyoming, if it wasn't for the county of Johnson, if it wasn't for the city of Buffalo, it's kind of made all those things possible.”

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WC

Wendy Corr

Features Reporter