SONOITA —Cowboy lifestyles will be taking centerstage this weekend.

The Empire Ranch Foundation is hosting its 20th annual Cowboy Festival on Saturday and Sunday with a lineup of activities that celebrate Arizona’s western history and culture.

Along with demonstrations, kids’ activities, artisans and entertainment, the festival showcases Bureau of Land Management and Empire Ranch Foundation efforts to preserve the historic ranch for future generations.

Every November, some 2,000 visitors attend the event, located on Empire Ranch Road, off scenic Highway 83 in Sonoita.

“The festival has changed names through the years, but it’s always held in the fall and it always showcases our western heritage,” said Foundation President Faith Boice, whose father, Steve Boice, was raised on the historic ranch.

“People are always so enthused about the festival, and it draws a bigger crowd every year,” she said. “Money the foundation raises through these events is used to preserve this beautiful ranch and rare Southern Arizona jewel,” she said.

As a nonprofit organization, the foundation provides funds and organizes volunteers to support and complete preservation projects and educational activities on the ranch, which serves as a Western heritage education center.

Empire Ranch sits on the 42,000-acre Las Cienegas National Conservation Area on public lands acquired and administered by the Bureau of Land Management Tucson Office since 1988.

Steve Boice, co-founder of equine rescue Horse’n Around Rescue Ranch and Foundation out of Hereford, serves as one of the festival organizers, along with his daughter, Faith.

“This started out as a one-day event and has grown so much that we’ve added a second day for the first time this year,” he said. “It’s been amazing to see how the festival has evolved through the years.”

Boice said that while past festivals have drawn more than 2,000 visitors, he expects the added day could bring that number up to 3,000.

Horse’n Around will be one of numerous organizations to participate in the event, Boice said.

“We’re going to have a couple of round corrals there with some of our horses, and our trainer, Regi Richter will be giving demonstrations,” he added.

The event provides an amazing opportunity for people to learn about the historic ranch as well as cowboy heritage and culture.

“It’s educational and a lot of fun,” he said. “There are food trucks, artisans, raffles and all kinds of activities going on both days. They’ll have western music and entertainment and speakers. People love the festival, and come back every year.”