Bob Funk’s Big Event

I’m on the road at the annual Telluride Film Festival in Telluride, Colorado and soon I’ll be posting a full report on the films and film stars I’m seeing here. In the meantime here is a story from the Big Event in Yukon, Oklahoma.

            Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back.   Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, Lt. Governor Todd Lamb, former Governor George Nigh, singers Anita Bryant and Ty England, rodeo star Billy Atbauer and entertainer Jim Stafford were among the many guests who gathered in Yukon, Oklahoma on Friday for what is known as “The Big Event”.

Bob Funk, the owner of Express Ranches puts this party on very year to promote the ranching industry and what a gala it was. The two day event kicks off with a cow sale on Friday morning that is televised around the world.  Its just like a regular cattle sale except on Friday the cattle are still in pastures and a film crew is out there with them, broadcasting back to the Express Ranch sale barn where a dozen workers are taking bids over the phone selling cattle in bunches of everywhere from thirty to fifty at a time.

That night after the sale a big party is held under a giant tent where the various dignitaries give speeches about the important of the cattle industry. Governor Fallin sat at a table next to mine at dinner and she told me that Mr. Funk has given millions of dollars in college scholarships to high kids who want to get into the cattle business and he is also the second largest donor to OSU after T. Boone Pickens. I learned more of Mr. Funk’s philanthropic work from Heather Wilson, a former U.S. Representative from New Mexico, who told me that his St. James Hotel and the Express UU Bar Ranch in Cimarron are the largest employers in that area. She said he pays good wages, provides health benefits and offers profit sharing all of which makes him a hero in this economically depressed community.

After the Friday night gala I thought the event couldn’t get any better but Saturday turned out to be the real showcase when the auctions started off  with the individual cattle sales. These cows were in the sale barn and although I didn’t understand all the talk about genetics and DNA I could see that this is what today’s big cattlemen look for.Better animals, better prices for the ranchers and better steaks was what this greenhorn understood.

“The Big Event” is held every August at the Express Ranch in Yukon, just a few miles west of Oklahoma City. The sale is free to attend and open to the public and it is truly an educational experience. “Check It Out.”

This next story shifts from the best of mankind to the worst and it has a small tie to our area. Charles Gasko as everyone knew him at his 1012 3rd Street apartment in Santa Monica seemed fairly normal. According to Barbara Gluck who lived across the hall he walked his dog regularly and was usually well dressed with an elegant jacket but he could at times be mean to his female companion, especially when she spoke to the other neighbors. Their 800 square foot rent controlled apartment was just a couple of blocks from the Santa Monica beach and in a wealthy enclave of beautiful homes and apartments. But on June 24th, just a few days before I arrived in California the world discovered that this was not your average 81 years old but James “Whitey” Bulger, leader of the notorious Winter Hill gang in Boston.

Whitey had been on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list since 1994, right below Osama Bin Laden and I’ve got his story coming next week. Till then, from Telluride, Colorado where I’m attending the 2nd largest film festival in the U.S., I’ll see ya down the road…..



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