Another post from my recent travels……………..
Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale
Welcome back. Billy Etbauer is a five time world bareback riding champion and many rodeo people say there was no one better. Still in great shape, he and his wife Hallie are about as down home friendly as it gets. Former governor Frank Keating and his wife Kathy are also easy to talk with and they visited with me about the great things A.C. Holden had accomplished during his time in public service. Governor Mary Fallin was there as you might imagine since she’s running for re-election and she told me she has many fond memories from her visits to Bartlesville. Basketball great Leroy Coombs was a guest along with numerous officials from the State Department of Agriculture, past governors, presidents of major banks and more professional rodeo cowboys than I could count.
Miss Rodeo Oklahoma, Lauren Heaton was there as was Grammy award winning country music star Lee Ann Womack. Later in the evening Lee Ann gave a performance that had the crowd of over five hundred clapping and dancing in their seats. The menu for the evening included large steaks, jumbo shrimp, salads, fresh vegetables and fancy potatoes served from long tables decorated with flowers and ice sculptures. I don’t want to forget the friendly and professional serving staff, all of whom were neatly dressed in black uniforms. There seemed to be at least a hundred of them and you never had to ask for anything. A top of the line event for sure!
Another noteworthy guest who was of special interest to me was Susan Robbins, the widow of the late actor Dale Robertson who passed away last year. For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, Dale was the star of many TV and movie westerns including everything from Iron Horse and Death Valley Days to Dallas and Dynasty. Dale lived just a mile down the road from here and was a regular guest at this event. A special eulogy was delivered for Dale by the man who was probably his best friend, Bob Funk.
I could tell you much more about the evening and drop another handful of names, many of which you would be familiar with but now that I’ve mentioned Mr. Funk, you may guess that this gathering could only have been held at one place- his Express Ranch in Yukon.
This annual occasion is called “The Big Event” and you regular readers know that I’ve attended several times and it is always lots of fun to see who’s there. The Big Event is a cow sale yes but it is also intended to be a celebration of the many opportunities offered to Oklahomans and more importantly, Americans.
The real stars of the show are of course the cattle. This ranch, combined with the other Express operations around the country, represents the largest seed stock producer in the United States. These registered cattle sell for big money and some of them are syndicated like race horses with multiple owners literally from around the world. The annual sales at the Express Ranch also provide millions in tax dollars for the State of Oklahoma. I feel fortunate to be able to attend and I hope I have captured at least some of the excitement of the event for you.
On Thursday night I caught a performance by the best garage band I think I’ll ever hear, The Fabulous Mid-Life Crisis Band. The band is on a roll, playing to big crowds around the state as their following grows. As I’ve mentioned they will be playing out at Woolaroc on September 12th along with the Big O Band from Oklahoma City and Gypsy Twang from Tulsa. Bring your lawn chairs if you want and there will be plenty of food. Tickets are $40 a person and include admission to the museum and grounds at Woolaroc from 3-5 p.m. before the event. If you haven’t been to Woolaroc lately this is a great opportunity to reacquaint yourself with this special place that Frank Phillips left for all of us.
Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…..