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September 9, 2012

Exhibit on rodeo history on display at Heritage Center

DUNCAN — A unique exhibit is on display through the end of October at Chisholm Trail Heritage Center and a special reception was held Thursday for those featured in it.

Featuring many Oklahoma rodeo legends, mostly from Duncan and the surrounding area, the exhibit is a partnership between the facility and the PRCA Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo to promote the upcoming rodeo. It is set for Oct. 18-20 featuring the best ropers, riders and rodeo athletes in the circuit.

Mike Anderson, who is on the rodeo committee, helped coordinate the exhibit and Cova Williams, museum coordinator staged the memorabilia of winning belt buckles, photos, saddles and images.

In the exhibit are Barry Burk, Carol Goostree, Sherry Price Johnson, Florence Youree, Mildred and John Farris, Junior Garrison, Shawn Frey and Michelle Dyer. Youree and Price Johnson are sisters.

A second exhibit features the western art of Minco artist Tom Simonton.

A brief glance at those rodeo legends:

Burk, a tie-down roper, is a 17-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier holds numerous titles, but not a world championship. Still though, the Duncan native (1942) enjoyed it enough to earn reserve champion status in 1967 to 1973 and again in 1975. He was all around champion in the American Junior Rodeo Association from 1957-61. Probably the biggest honor from years of roping came when he was inducted to the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1994.

Mildred and John Farris, inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2006, Their love affair with rodeo dates back to the 1950s. They met at a rodeo and ever since have kept up the love affair. She made it to the NFR 12 times in barrel racing. She served as a director for the WPRA and also as president and vice president in the late 1960s and early 1970s. From 1959 to 1979, John was in the arena competing on saddle broncs, bareback and even bull riding. One can’t forget his tie-down roping either because most cowboys will tell you, roping is essential. Since 1967, John has been involved with the NFR production team in various roles. The pair have amassed many awards. Mildred said at the reception that she has one entire room of awards and trophies but her health didn’t allow her to get to them to bring more to the exhibit. The couple live in Addington, near their friends, the sisters Youree and Price Johnson.

Youree has been barrel racing since 1950 and lives in Addington. In 1993, she was honored with Coca Cola Woman of the Year for contributions to rodeo. In 1996, she was inducted to the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum. In 2009, she again received an induction, to the National Rodeo Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

In 1962, Sherry Price Johnson (then Sherry Combs) secured the World Champion honors for barrel racing, with the help of her horse, “Red.” She also was a 12 time NFR qualifier from 1959 to 1991. And in 1997, she was named the WPPR’s Coca Cola Woman of the Year. In 2005, Price Johnson was inducted to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s Rodeo Hall of Fame. Those are only a few of the many awards she earned over her long rodeo career.

Garrison is a World Champion calf roper, holding that title from 1966 to 1970. He won the NFR average in 1968. He competed 11 times in the NFR and in 1967 he tied a calf in 7.5 and held the Guinness Book of World Records for years.

Nearly every major rodeo throughout the United States and Canada can gain tribute from Garrison’s accomplishments, including Cheyenne, Denver and Fort Worth, shared Williams. His claim is that he was one of the first cowboys to revolutionize right hand get off.

Goostree of Verden, an elite barrel racing champion was the first woman featured in ProRodeo Sports News, said Anderson. That was March 5, 1980. The two are longtime friends and both attended the reception, as did Dyer, Youree, Frey, Johnson and the Farris couple.

In 1979, Goostree managed to win more than $43,000, the first to do so in a single Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) season, and was designated WPRA World Champion with her horse, Dobre. Goostree also owns a custom bits company.

Frey, who is also a member of the PRCA Chisholm Trail Prairie Circuit committee, is originally from Louisiana, but moved to Stephens County in 1994 after his retirement from rodeo. He competed in the NFR and holds many awards, from 1985 to 1995. As a bareback bronc rider, he knows his share of bruises, but it never kept him down. Now he continues his love of the sport by helping bring the “rodeo” title back to Duncan and southern Oklahoma.

Dyer is probably the youngest of the group, and her humble nature was evident during Thursday’s reception. She said she was very honored to be included among those featured in the exhibit. She is a member of the Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association. She and husband, Jared, have one son, 15 month old Ace, who already looks like he’s ready for the circuit.

To learn more about these individuals and their accomplishments, visit the CTHC through October to see the exhibits. The facility will offer free admission Friday and Saturday for the two day Western Spirit Celebration, featuring chuck wagon cookoffs, longhorns, vendors and entertainment for all ages.

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