Cowtown Wowtown

Get ready for your close-up, Denver!

A few weeks ago, a Tonight show crew came through town, gathering footage for a segment that will air tonight, a preview of what delegates can expect when they come to town a year from now for the Democratic National Convention. The piece features some of the usual suspects, including Jack A. Weil, founder of Rockmount Ranchwear, inventor of the snap-button Western shirt and, at 106, the world’s oldest working CEO.

Jack A. – also known as “Papa Jack” (his son Jack B. is also in the business, as is grandson Steve) – is also featured in the current Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau “Know What the Locals Know” marketing campaign for the city But it wasn’t so very long ago that Papa Jack was an unsung hero in a city that was too self-conscious about its cow-town roots to actually celebrate something Western – much less promote it nationally.

That all changed during a liquid lunch a few years ago on St. Patrick’s Day, when assorted boosters and LoDo neighbors gathered at McCormick’s bar for the annual changing of the street sign on Wazee. The Weils were there, and after a few beers, a certain bossy editor (me) started browbeating a certain Bureau bureacrat, telling him that the city should be touting true Western icons like Jack A., whose warehouse/shop has always been my favorite single spot in Denver (“True Romance,” March 15, 2001), but whose business would also have great appeal to the Eastern press. The Bureau bureaucrat surrendered to my bullying, sent out a press release about Rockmount the next day – and a Florida newspaper snapped up the story within 24 hours. Since then, of course, Papa Jack has been profiled by numerous national and international newspapers, magazines and TV outlets.

And tonight, he’s on Tonight. Giddyup, Denver. -- Patricia Calhoun

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