Rodeos NW Oklahoma Style

by - LK Wagner

Freedom celebrates an old tradition still going since September 1939. It is now referred to as the " Biggest Little Rodeo and Cowhand Reunion " held in Freedom, Oklahoma, USA.

Freedom's first Old Cowhand Reunion was held September 15, 1939. Also, if you are in the vicinity of Waynoka, Oklahoma a week before Freedom's Rodeo, you might check out their "Annual Waynoka Stampede Rodeo". FairValley's Mayor (Everette Whitney) can tell you some interesting stories from his trek in the Rodeo circuit. His son, Vernon, does the Rodeo circuit today ( mainly the bulldogging ).

Freedom, Oklahoma, USA has restored it's buildings in this small, rural Oklahoma town to resemble the old western fronts from the Old Days to bring back the feel of the Old West to this quaint, little town located approximately 25 miles west of Alva on Highway 64 and then south on highway 50 for a few miles.

Each year Freedom has celebrated it's " Biggest Little Rodeo and Cowhand Reunion " with a staged gunfight and chuckwagon feast on the Saturday starting in the morning and ending with the Rodeo held at the Rodeo grounds in the north part of town and a dance in the middle of downtown Freedom, Amercia after the Rodeo. The population of that little town soars dramatically each year in mid-August with people traveling from all over to be a part of what is known as the "Biggest Open Rodeo" in the World.

First Cowhand Reunion --

The following information was taken from The Birth of Freedom written by John Cable. It is a brief history of the first Cowhand Reunion and the key players in the Rodeo organization between 1939 through 1942.

1939 --- Freedom Old Cowhand Reunion:

"Previous to the big day that has made Freedom the envied host city, invitations were sent over the country side to all old cowhands whose names and addresses could be obtained by careful questioning of all old cowhands met up with. Thus, 125 letters were mailed; inviting the old cowhands to come to Freedom, on September 15, 1939, for the first reunion and old time chuck wagon feed. Back came enthusiastic assurances that nothing could keep the old boys away. And come they did, from Wichita to Woodward; from Arkansas City to Supply. a splendid group of old time cattlemen met in a happy reunion."

Frank Kamas, 1st pres., Cimarron Cowpunchers Assoc. Frank Kamas -- This is a photo of the 1st. President of the Cimarron Cowpunchers Association. The day was a grand one for such an event, with Leon C. Phillips, Governor of Oklahoma, and many other notables present.

The reunion was called to order by Governor Phillips and on a motion made by Jim Selman of Woodward the organization voted to be known as the "Cimarron Cow Punchers Association." First officers elected were Frank Kamas, President; Walter Fulton, Wagon Boss; Sam Updegraff, Sec.-treas.; and Tom Dyer, historian.

Music was furnished by the Gyp Hill Band. Following the chuck wagon feed and business meeting, the old cowhands formed a section of the big parade to the rodeo grounds, where they were guests of the Junior Rodeo management.

1940 --- Old Cowhand Reunion --

The second reunion was attended by nearly two hundred old cowhands and their wives on Sept. 13, 1940. John Hinton, Pres. of the C. of C., acting as master of ceremonies of this grand occasion, introduced the various notables; of which there were a good number. The chief speaker was Dr. C. O. Newlun, President of Northwestern College.

Frank Kamas, President of the association, called for an election of new officers to man the organization. Jim Selman of Woodward was the unanimous choice for President and Simpson Walker for Secretary. Both gentlemen were expecting the largest gathering of cowhands for the third annual reunion and chuck wagon feed to be held yet in Freedom, Oklahoma on September 14. This is the Old Cowhand Day and all cattlemen were welcome. [ info from the Junior Rodeo brochure, 1941 ]