The Duncan Banner

September 19, 2013

Rodeo Legends Reunion has organizers excited

Seats are still available for first time event

Toni Hopper
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — A special Living Rodeo Legends Reunion is planned for Saturday at the Simmons Center. It’s open to anyone who wants a chance to come and meet some of the greatest rodeo athletes, many of them from right here in Stephens County.

Some of them are World Champion title holders.

The idea isn’t a new one, said Mike Anderson, committee chairman for the Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo that happens Oct. 17-19 at the Stephens County Fair & Expo Center in Duncan. But it is the first time such a reunion has been held here, and for the public.

Anderson lives and loves rodeo. You can see him perched on a horse at most of the area rodeos at the Fair & Expo Center, where he is also director. About 15 years ago, Anderson had a rodeo to attend and was invited by a friend to an event in Fort Smith, Ark.. He knew he’d be tired by the time he got home from the rodeo, but three hours later, the friend picked him up and they were on the road to Fort Smith.

“I didn’t really want to go ‘cause I was so tired,” he recalls. “But I got to sit and meet with the legends of legends. I met Clark McEntire, Clem McSpadden and some others.” McEntire was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1979; McSpadden was the grand-nephew of Will Rogers and an Oklahoma legislator.

Fast forward to more than a year ago when Anderson, Joe Henderson and others involved with the Prairie Circuit Finals were talking of fundraising ventures. It takes about $190,000 to produce the Finals, which the rodeo committee has secured the contract now for a second year to be held in Duncan.

“This is something we’ve thought of for a long time. You don’t get to experience very often. I mentioned it to our committee,” Anderson said. “We keep talking about celebrities for a fundraiser. We have 12 World Championships right here in Stephens County.

Anderson said there will be some who can’t make it to the Reunion because of other commitments, but the event promises plenty of big names if you love rodeo.

Roy Burk and Charlie Heath are both slated as featured speakers. Heath is a cowboy poet who Anderson describes as  “really good and entertaining.” Heath has ties to Comanche and Bowie, Texas. Burk is from Duncan.

“Howard Council, the saddlemaker (and artist) from Lawton will be there,” Anderson said. An art piece donated by Council at a fundraising auction last year brought $2,600. There will be another silent and a live auction held at this year’s first Legends Reunion, with something for every pocketbook. Anderson said while the goal is to also raise funds to help cover the rodeo costs in October, the main thing is to bring cowboys and cowgirls together for a night of enjoyment.

“We have over 20 NFR past qualifiers who live around here. This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to get to meet the rodeo legends of the world.”

Anderson said his trip to Fort Smith was one of the most memorable events of his life.

“I got to rub elbows with them. Some of those legends died shortly after that. This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity — to get to meet the rodeo legends of the world.”

Anderson said there isn’t a solid financial goal set but they hope about 200 people attend.

“We’re hoping to begin a tradition of a cowboy reunion and recognize our sponsors for the Prairie Circuit Finals,” Anderson said. “But we would like for everybody to have a good time.”

On the Legends list are some who are “in memory.”

The list includes Clyde Burk, Jiggs Burk, Mildred Farris, John Farris, Dee Burk, Barry Burk, Blair Burk, Roy Burk, Ote Berry, Spud Duvall, Gary Ledford, Morris Ledford, Junior Garrison, Zane Tibbets, Greg Winham, Tom Walker, Willard Moody, Richard Stowers, Florence Youree, Sherry Combs (Johnson), Janae Ward (Massey), Missy Long, Carol Goostree, Joyce Loomis-Kernek, Kathie O'Brien, Kurt Goulding, Ryan Jarrett, Shawn Frey, Howard Council and Charles Pogue.

“We take it for granted because we live here. But this is a chance to meet with them and get an autograph or picture with them.”

So far, they have about 100 people who are planning on attending, but Anderson said, anyone is welcome to attend. There is a cost as it is also a dinner event. People can call Joe Henderson, 580-252-7388 for more information. The event starts at 7 p.m.