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Longmire Days

New Longmire Book Due in September, Longmire Days Scheduled in August

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Thirty years ago, Craig Johnson did two things that would change his life – he began building his ranch at Ucross, and he wrote the first two chapters of what would become a huge hit book and television series.

“I had one of those dads who was like, you were slave labor until you escaped,” Johnson said, laughing. “I got taught how to do basic construction and electrical and plumbing and all that, so I built the ranch myself – and then when I got the windows and doors and the heat turned on I started on the first Longmire novel. I wrote the first two chapters of ‘The Cold Dish,’ and wasn’t happy with it, and stuck it in a drawer for 10 years.”

But he eventually pulled it out and finished it… and 17 books later, Johnson’s series of mystery novels about a small town sheriff in Wyoming have a near-cult following. 

Eighteen books (if you include the upcoming “Hell and Back,”) a hit television series and an annual star-studded event in Buffalo have made Walt Longmire a household name – although Johnson told Cowboy State Daily he wouldn’t have bet that all would happen.

“When Warner Brothers knocked on the door and said, ‘Hey, we’d like to make a TV show out of the books about the sheriff of the least populated county in the least populated state in America,’ I started questioning their wisdom,” Johnson said.

Longmire, The TV Show

The TV series, which was first broadcast on A&E and later streamed on Netflix, has created a fan base of its own, apart from Johnson’s New York Times-bestselling books.

“As it turned out, we were the highest rated scripted drama in A&E’s network history,” Johnson said. “And then after three years they wanted to buy the show from Warner Brothers, and Warner Brothers wouldn’t sell it and so they decided to cancel it. And that was when Netflix grabbed us.”

The show, which ran for a total of six seasons, starred Robert Taylor, Katee Sackoff, Lou Diamond Phillips, Cassidy Freeman, Bailey Chase, LouAnne Stephens, Zahn McClarnon, A Martinez and Adam Bartley, along with high-profile recurring guest stars like Peter Weller, Graham Greene, Charles S. Dutton and Gerald McRaney.

“The show has continued to be in the top 20 viewed shows on Netflix for the last five years, since we ceased production,” Johnson said. “So it’s hard for them to stop running Longmire when it continues to garner an audience on a regular basis, which is really something – because, I mean, Netflix produces like these multimillion dollar shows with these big stars every month, and then there’s our little Indian and cowboy show, just chugging along there, year after year.” 

“So, we have hopes that maybe somebody at Warner Brothers will figure things out and might even make it back on the air sometime… you never can tell,” he added

Longmire, The Event

Those six seasons, though, made a huge impact on fans across the country. So much so, in fact, that the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce launched a “Longmire Days” festival 11 years ago – and it’s still going strong. 

Longmire Days are scheduled to be held in Buffalo (renamed “Durant” for the event in honor the books’ setting) August 18 through 21, 2022, and Johnson said all of the actors have indicated that they will be attending.

“Like everybody else, they’re kind of like cooped up and just dying to get back out, back among people,” he said. “I mean, for six years, they played as if they were in Wyoming, and so the chance for them to actually come and see what the real Wyoming is, I think it’s a unique kind of opportunity for them that they don’t normally get.”

Johnson likened the fan response (8,000 people attended in 2019) to science fiction conventions and Comic-Con events. He pointed out that actress Katee Sackhoff, who played Deputy Victoria Moretti on the show, has been one of the only cast members with experience in that type of gathering because of her roles in “Battlestar Galactica” and “The Mandalorian,” which have millions of followers.

“She’s used to seeing these huge crowds, you know, thousands of people lining up to get your autograph and all that kind of stuff,” Johnson said. “But a lot of the other actors, for them, it’s really incredible, to be in a parade, to be the grand marshal of a rodeo like the Cody Stampede (in 2017).”

Insider Information

For Wyoming fans of the book series, the inside stories behind characters and place names are a hook.

“One of my favorite quotes about writing is the one from Wallace Stegner where he says the greatest piece of fiction ever written is the disclaimer at the beginning of every book that says nobody in this book is based off of anybody alive or dead,” Johnson said.

“It’s difficult, when you live in a state that only has half a million people in it, because I’ll stick somebody from Gillette in one of my books and I’ll be down doing a library event in Rock Springs and somebody will say, ‘Is that so-and-so from Gillette that’s in your third book?’” 

Johnson said that when he chose the names of his fictitious county, Absaroka, and town, Durant, those also needed to be based on real life. He pointed out he didn’t want to go with a name like “Pronghorn” or “Antelope Gulch” for the setting of his tiny town in the (fictional) 24th county in the state of Wyoming.

“I wanted to use a name which I thought would be more indicative of a real life, Wyoming town,” Johnson said, “and so I just grabbed (Durant’s) name from a list of Union Pacific executives who was of questionable repute.” 

Besides being terribly difficult for the actors on the television series to pronounce, the name of Johnson’s fictional county, Absaroka, stands out as a nod to Wyoming’s Native American history.

“Absaroka is one of the oral interpretations of the word in the Crow language for the ‘children of long beaked bird,’ or the crow,” he explained. 

Johnson noted that because of the proximity of the large reservations in nearby Montana and in central Wyoming, he felt the inclusion of Native people and culture in the Longmire series was an honest portrayal of Wyoming’s population. 

“To not have them be a part of that (Absaroka County) region, it wouldn’t be honest,” he said. “They’re just too interesting, they’re just too magnificent – they’re just too wonderful to not include in the books. It would be criminal of me not to include them.”

Upcoming Book

Johnson’s upcoming book, “Hell and Back,” is scheduled for release in September — and Johnson is already planning his book tour, which will include Wyoming libraries and bookstores.

“There will be a big national tour, but certainly I’ll be bouncing around,” he said, adding that he enjoys supporting local bookstores and libraries. “You know, the Legends Bookstore there in Cody, she brings her books over here to me to sign them early, so that on opening day, she’s got signed books. And I mean, the first library event I ever did was in Meeteetse.”

There’s no doubt that the Longmire brand has brought positive attention to Wyoming — and Johnson said that attention has been a benefit to more than just him.

“One of the the points of doing Longmire Days was to raise money for charity,” he said, “and we did like $30,000, I think, for the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women’s Resource Center up in Lame Deer (Montana) this year, and $10,000 for the Johnson County Search and Rescue, which was in dire need of funding, and a bunch of others like it.”

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‘Sheriff Longmire’ Actor Won’t Be At Longmire Days This Year (In Person)

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Robert Taylor, the actor who plays the title character on the TV series “Longmire,” won’t be able to appear in person at Buffalo’s Longmire Days this year.

Taylor is unable to attend in person because of Australian coronavirus restrictions that ban overseas travel by citizens. Taylor and several other actors from the series will instead appear in online and live-streamed events during the weekend.

“This decision to change was hard to make knowing that many of you have made your reservations and travel plans,” the event’s organizers said in an announcement on the Longmire Days website. “We hope we have given you, the fans, enough time to change those plans if you decide to, and we are grateful for your kindness and understanding.”

Other actors appearing at Longmire Days virtually include Katee Sackhoff, Adam Bartley, Bailey Chase, Louanne Stephens and A Martinez.

Longmire Days, which will be held Sept. 2-5 in Buffalo, commemorates the series of books about Sheriff Walt Longmire, which was then adapted into a six-season television and streaming series, which can now be viewed in its entirety on Netflix.

The Longmire Foundation noted that this year’s Longmire Days will be smaller in scale than past years, recalling the first event in 2012 when series author Craig Johnson sat outside, talked with fans and signed books.

This year’s schedule of events hasn’t been finalized, but the organizers intend to host question and answer sessions, book signings with Johnson, a 5K run, a rodeo and a street dance in Buffalo’s downtown.

“If you are still planning to come to Buffalo, we have a weekend for you!” the organizers said. “We are scaled back a bit, but will still be in the same beautiful setting celebrating the best book series ever written along with one of the best TV series. (Craig did not write this. We are all fans too.) Come see us for the weekend!”

Last year’s Longmire Days was moved to a completely online format due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was originally slated to be held this month, but organizers moved it to Labor Day weekend back in January due to safety concerns.

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Wyoming’s “Longmire Days” Rescheduled to September 2 – 5, 2021

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The Longmire Foundation on Friday announced it is postponing the annual Longmire Days celebration from July to September.

Longmire Days is an annual event held in Buffalo, Wyoming, every summer which celebrates the series of books featuring Sheriff Walt Longmire written by Wyoming author Craig Johnson.

The organization said that the safety concerns of event attendees, the community, and the actors who donate their time was the reason for the postponement.

It’s progress, however, as last year’s in-person celebration was canceled in favor of a virtual event.

“We feel this change will give the event the time that may be necessary for large-scale, in-person get togethers to be possible,” the organization said.  “We also feel event attendees may require the extra time to change travel plans and feel safe and secure traveling to Durant (aka Buffalo), Wyoming. We want to see everyone, and we want everyone to be safe.”

The organization said the scheduled dates (September 2 – 5) are tentative and it “will make a final decision about holding the event in early August.

“We are planning for the best-case scenario while preparing for the worst-case one — cancellation due to public health concerns.  We appreciate the patience of the Longmire enthusiasts during this process. The safety of our community, the fans, and the actors are, as always, foremost in our minds,” the organization said.

“Please stay safe, wear a mask, wash your hands, maintain social distancing, get the vaccine, and let’s all hope we get through this before the event so we can all come together again and celebrate as a Longmire-loving community,” it said.

The Sheriff Walt Longmire books served as the inspiration for the television series “Longmire,” which is currently streaming on Netflix.

There were six seasons and 63 episodes produced over the course of the series, all starring Australian actor Robert Taylor as the fictional Wyoming sheriff.

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Thousands visit Buffalo for ‘Longmire Days’

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By Wendy Corr for Cowboy State Daily

Even though it’s been three years since the last new episode of “Longmire” aired, thousands of people last week visited the town that inspired the setting for the books written by Ucross author Craig Johnson.

An estimated 10,000 were in Buffalo on July 18-21 to celebrate the eighth annual “Longmire Days,” an event created to commemorate the popular television and book series.

Fans from around the world flock to Buffalo for the autograph sessions with stars from the show, parades, a craft show, talent show and classic car show that highlight the weekend.

Damaris Miller of Colorado said her love of the show will keep her coming to Buffalo every year even though the show is no longer in production.

“You just feel like you know the characters and you feel like if they walk on the street, you would just feel like you were friends with them,” she said. “You know their history, you know their life. And as you can see from Buffalo, it’s crowded from people who just love the series. I plan on coming every year.”

Buffalo residents enjoy the boost to the local economy that comes with the annual celebration.

“It enriches us by bringing together lots of different folks who come here and appreciate the beauty of where we live,” said Tacia Kolb of Leadership Johnson County.

The streaming service Netflix continues to air past episodes of “Longmire.”

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