The Western Heritage Awards in Oklahoma City


This is a wonderful event to meet and mingle with leaders in western arts and heritage.

Welcome back.  It was 1961 in Oklahoma City and the event I’m getting ready to tell you about was then held at a place known as the Cowboy Hall of Fame. According to their records, the ceremony was created to honor and encourage the accomplishments of those whose works in literature, music, film and television keep the spirit of the American west alive. I wasn’t there back then but I have attended several Western Heritage Award ceremonies over the last dozen years and as a veteran event attendee I can tell you it’s a must. This year on April 17th there’s the big Jingle Jangle Mingle party when the halls of the museum will be filled with food and drink and guests will be decked out in their finest western wear and jewelry. This is always a popular event as the rich and the famous rubs elbows with the rest of us celebrating the cowboy way of life and then on April 18th the real awards begin. This is a big production and in my experience tickets go quickly so if you’re interested in tickets for Saturday call now.

In addition to the arts awards there’s the Hall of Great Western Performers award which is always exciting and another award called the “Great Westerner”. The evening wraps up with Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award, named for the museum founder.

This year’s featured celebrity guests are Patrick and Ethan Wayne which is another reason I think tickets will be hard to get, the longer you wait.  Patrick and Ethan will help present the Wrangler awards in film, television, literature and music. James Coburn (1928-2002) and Ken Maynard (1895-1973) will be inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers. In the middle of all this is the ceremony for the Hall of Great Westerners inductees. There are two people this year and the first is someone I know many of you Bartlesville, OK natives have heard of.

Born on May 16, 1933 in Bartlesville, he bought his first cow in junior high school. After graduating from high school in 1951, he went on to attend Oklahoma A&M where he earned a degree in Animal Science before taking over the operation of the family ranch. He and his college sweetheart Lorna Jane Moleod were married in 1956 and raised four kids, together. A member of the Oklahoma Agriculture Hall of Fame, a leader in the state ranching community and now a honoree at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage, John Hughes stature continues to grow.

The Hughes Ranch was initially a cow-calf operation and then was converted to a stocker operation. Today the ranch, which lies along highway 123 in Osage County, is easy to spot because it is also home to hundreds of wild mustangs.

The other inductee Cotton Rosser is a legend in rodeo circles. His Flying U Ranch has provided livestock for the National Finals Rodeo in Denver, the big Houston Rodeo and another fifty or so other events every year. Born in 1928, Rosser and his family operate one of the largest rodeo stock breeding operations in the world.

Through my research I found that these two men fit the criteria for the “Great Westerner” to a t:

  1. Exceptional contribution to the advancement of Western heritage and traditions over a lifetime. 2. Individuals who promote America’s rich Western heritage through their leadership and patronage of art, business industry, environmental, education, humanitarian, government or philanthropic organizations. 3. Achievement of national significance and historic relevance. 4. Exemplification of the traditional Western ideals of honesty, integrity and self-sufficiency over a lifetime.

Look for more on this party next week and with cowboy history in mind don’t forget Elder Care’s big shindig out at the Crossbell Ranch in May. Till next time I’ll see ya down the road….