COWGIRL|May - June 2020
When Debbe Dunning was asked to come up with a concept for a new show by Patrick Gottsch, owner of RFD-TV and The Cowboy Channel, during a chance meeting at a golf tournament, the idea was almost instant.
A fan of dude ranch vacations with recent week-long visits to Arizona’s White Stallion Ranch and Wyoming’s UXU Ranch, the actress most notably known for her role as Heidi the Tool Time girl from television’s Home Improvement had a strong inkling the concept was perfect for RFD-TV.
“The idea for the show came about for my love of dude ranching,” says the vivacious television veteran who sat with COWGIRL during the filming of an episode at RFDTV Ranch in New Mexico. “There are so many incredible ranches across America that a lot of people don’t know about and I wanted to share my passion for these wonderful treasures.”
It didn’t take long to discover that America’s dude ranch traditions were alive and well all across the West and Dunning set her sights on visiting them all after receiving an enthusiastic go-ahead for the new rural television series, Debbe Dunning’s Dude Ranch Roundup.
“I approach each dude ranch or guest ranch individually and I have to pretty much sell my product,” says Debbe. “My strategy is to tell the correct story, to do it authentically, to capture moments that are not set up, like when a father and a daughter get up and do karaoke.”
And what’s not to love?
“The hospitality that you walk into at these ranches is like you’re walking into your grandma’s living room,” Dunning reflects. “First you’re uncomfortable. Then you’re at home, and then you cry when you leave.”
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May - June 2020