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Porter Saddles Up As New Cowboy Museum Manager
Bambi Porter has taken on the role of Oakdale Cowboy Museum Manager, a position she is excited to fill. Photo Contributed

Some might say she’s a natural fit or ideal candidate. For Bambi Porter, however, her title as Oakdale Cowboy Museum Manager is a longtime dream realized.

Porter was appointed to the position in June of this year.

“I have actually wanted this position for years,” Porter shared, of her newly assigned role, noting she first expressed an interest in the job over five years ago.

“We’ll just say that the planets were not aligned, and it just wasn’t my time,” she continued. “That was a hard pill to swallow. At the time and during that five years. At the beginning of this year, I found out that they were going to be hiring a manager, the person that was here had left.”

The journey from then to now, as they say, is history. Porter quickly proved to be the right Cowgirl for the job, as she hit the ground running in June with an event calendar already in full swing.

Coming out of the year of COVID-19, when Porter joined the Museum she was faced with a rescheduled Cowgirl luncheon, in mid-August, only to be followed by the upcoming Cowboy Museum Dinner later this month.

“June 1 I get here, we are there planning cowgirl luncheon,” she said. “The event was a huge success. It was one of the best ones that we’ve ever had, financially, and so that was a really great thing. People really needed to come out.”

But there wasn’t much time to savor that success.

“So then we pack up cowgirl luncheon and now I’ve got the member dinner and auction on October 30,” Porter continued. “So we didn’t even pause, we just put the boxes of cowgirl luncheon away and we’re pulling out everything for this other event, which will have at least 400 people.”

Porter shared, while she is the “be all, end all,” by way of coordination and seeing things through, it would hardly be possible without Administrative Assistant Leah Cypert and an active and supportive board.

“Thankfully, I didn’t have to figure it out by myself because this is a fabulous board,” she said of the luncheon and upcoming dinner event. “It’s a working board, and I had Leah. We are like peas and carrots good, and she just really kind of led me.”

During the past five years, while Porter wasn’t in the role she so desired, she did find a way to stay connected to the Western lifestyle, which she is so passionate about. She currently has a few “side hustles” which include serving as Project Coordinator for RFD TV, as well as work for the Cowboy Channel and a recurring segment on Good Day Sacramento in her Gypsy Cowgirl Kitchen role.

“So, although I wasn’t born and raised here, I am so passionate about the Western history, Western lifestyle and traditions and making sure that those things do not go away,” she said of immersing herself in the role. “I think the museum has done a great job. It seemed like to me that it was a total, you know, natural fit with my little side hustle over here, and the timing was just right.”

Looking ahead, Porter shared once the dinner is wrapped up later this month, they’ll roll right back into planning for Cowgirl Luncheon at its traditional time in the month of April.

As the dust has yet to settle and she remains in forward motion keeping all the balls in the air with the help of her assistant and the board, Porter noted she has big plans for the Museum and future events. One area she hopes to grow in the current structure of the museum, would be additional volunteers. Porter noted they can use extra hands to help with varying things from: stamping and folding newsletters, making buttons, prepping for events and more. An “On Call” list of volunteers would prove not only handy but instrumental for a number of the upcoming events the new manager would like to plan.

“Hopefully it’s okay if I say this,” the energetic go-getter stated. “We are in desperate need of volunteers; we need volunteers, really bad. We have so many things that we would like to do that we cannot accomplish with just a board.”

There are several areas for prospective volunteers to choose from, she said.

“It could be anything from folding newsletters, and putting the postage on them. Yeah, we have a huge need right now for an AV (Audio-Visual) person,” she said, sharing that she and Cypert could use a little “tech” help with a museum project.

As Porter recognizes it’s a need they could probably pay someone to help with, her hope is that a community member well versed in the area would be willing to take a little time to offer some one time help to the museum.

“We’re open Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Porter shared of the current museum hours, noting admission remains free. “It’s only been in the last probably 60 days that we’re really starting to see people come from, way far away, you know, things are kind of opening back up. We used to see people from other countries, at least daily but now we’re seeing people from other states. A few people from out of the country but it’s really nice that things are starting to return to some sort of normalcy.

“People are very generous when they come in,” she continued. “During chocolate festival, we saw about 1200 people come through. Isn’t that crazy? We were so excited.”

Now that she looks to the future and as the months continue to pass, Porter noted the position she coveted for so long, was well worth the wait.

“I kind of feel like I found my place, and I’m just, I’m really happy to be here,” she said. “The circumstances are perfect, in terms of the hours and the board is just right. I do believe that the good Lord had a plan for me. And it wasn’t meant for me to be here before, it’s meant for me to be here now.”