Some of Buffalo, Wyoming’s residents might not have known the number one show on TV’s A&E
was about their town because of the fictional name, Durant, but after this weekend, there’s no doubt in their mind.Five of TVs most recognized characters came to Buffalo, population 4,500, to honor the author of the Longmire series of books – the same books that inspired the TV show that showcases their acting. When five of television’s top actors show up in a small town in Wyoming, so do thousands of fans.
Buffalo residents and businesses were a bit overwhelmed by the crowd, but fans didn’t seem to mind the wait to meet the actors and the author. They lined up as early as 7 a.m for press conference and autograph session. Robert Taylor (Walt Longmire), Cassidy Freeman (Cady Longmire), Katee Sackoff (Vic Moretti), Bailey Chase (Branch Connelly) and Adam Bartley (The Ferg) were all in Buffalo and participated in several events each, including a motorcycle poker run for Sackoff, a karaoke night for Bartley, a softball game, a horseback trip, a golf outing and more.
Adam Bartley (The Ferg) poses with a fan.
Fans came from all over the United States, coast to coast, to meet the cast and author. While the lines were long and Big Horn Mountain foothills temperatures warm, most fans were rewarded with a handshake, hug, autograph or photo with their favorites. The Twitterverse lit up with excitement over the event, including @jenimc, also known as Jennifer McNamara, South Dakota, who tweeted, “event was supposed to be a press conference, not a signing session. Cast chose fans over media, how cool is that?”
The real sheriff of Johnson County, Steve Kozisek, welcomed the fictional sheriff and his deputies to his county with hats and a few warnings. “Sheriff Longmire, you need a haircut,” he quipped at TV’s Robert Taylor. “And you,” he said, pointing at Katee Sackoff who plays deputy Vic Moretti, need to button your shirt a bit more.” The crowd howled when he suggested Bailey Chase’s character, Branch Connelly, could wear some pants that were a little looser.
After the dressing down of the fictional sheriff staff, Buffalo’s mayor declared Buffalo, Wyoming, in Johnson County was renamed Durant, Wyoming, in Absaroka County for a day.
Author Craig Johnson
As the fans of the books and TV show flooded the streets of “Durant,” temporary t-shirt shops sold hundreds of shirts, mugs and bumper stickers advertising “Longmire for Sheriff.” Restaurants, hotels and other downtown businesses reported a lot of tourists walking through, experiencing the town for the first time.
Buffalo itself is at the junction of Interstates 90 and 25, a short stop for some on their way to Yellowstone. It does attract its share of tourists on its own because of its historic downtown hotel, The Occidental, where Owen Wister wrote The Virginian, as well as several popular campgrounds and cabins.
Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire series, did book signings alongside the cast of the TV show – all of whom he considers friends. Johnson works as an executive consultant for the show – a job he indicates he loves because he gets to make sure the show represents Wyoming in the right way.
Not many towns outside of Los Angeles get to host some serious celebrity appearances – and Buffalo, or Durant, will benefit for years thanks to an author from just outside of town who wrote a book.