The Duncan Banner

Local News

July 29, 2010

120th Old Settler's Picnic starts today

Velma celebrates tradition

VELMA — Velma-Alma has already begun celebrating a tradition with more longevity than the state of Oklahoma. It’s 120th annual celebration, “The Old Settler’s Picnic.”

The tradition has evolved over the years, but for the better. Chad Cowan, member of the Old Settler’s Picnic Committee, said the tradition began when residents of the community met to work their cattle. Whether it be branding, vaccinating or any other cattle working necessity, the residents of the day gathered to perform them communally.

After the animal husbandry duties were complete, he said, those in attendance held a picnic. That tradition still lives today, usually around the first weekend in August.

“It’s a big deal in Velma,” Cowan said. “It’s always been to me at least, and all the folks who live here.”

The Old Settler’s Picnic kicked off at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday with the Ranch Rodeo. More than a dozen local ranches are represented in the Ranch Rodeo. The events that will transpire tonight are unlike most that you may see at a traditional rodeo.

“We will have wild cow milking, calf branding, team mugging, and more,” he said. “The teams are made up of five guys. It should be real fun to watch.”

Because of an abundance of entries for the timed events, Cowan said the team roping slack will kick off at 9 a.m. today. The rodeo atmosphere will continue through the day and into the evening. “Both Thursday  and Friday evening we will have a regular rodeo,” he said. Cowan said spectators can expect to see the rough stock today and Friday evenings.

“The entries to the rodeo usually comes and goes,” he said. “Typically, if something is down in terms of numbers, something else picks up. We usually stay pretty consistent.”

Cowan said music will fill the evening every night of the rodeo. He said Chance Anderson will perform tonight.

The festivities will continue into Saturday with a parade at 11 a.m. and the rodeo will be later that night. “It will be nice and warm,” he said. The dance floor will be surrounded by more vendors than he can remember.

“We have pretty high expectations right now,” he said. “If everyone that asked for a spot shows up, we will have a great year.”

Velma residency is not required to enjoy the Old Settler’s Picnic. Cowan said money isn’t either. There is no charge for admission to any of the rodeos, concerts, or the picnic. “We just want people to come and enjoy themselves,” he said.

— David Laughlin is a reporter for The Duncan Banner. He can be reached at 580-255-5354, Ext. 144, or via e-mail at

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