Western Oklahoma fits the “roads less travelled” bill quite nicely, and we’d like to tell you about an event that requires a bit of pre-planning.
The town is Beaver, Oklahoma (see interactive map below), on U.S. 64 and not really close to anything else. The road is good, views are vast as you drive the rolling agricultural hills, and there’s a nice state park just outside town. While there, you can visit the Jones & Plummer Trail Museum, staffed by very enthusiastic docents.
The real reason to go, though, happens the second weekend in April, when Beaver hosts the International Cow Chip Throwing Championship. It’s a county fair atmosphere at the Beaver County fairgrounds. Have your fill of fair food, midway rides, carnival games, and local music performers. On Saturday, everyone gathers for the big event (the locals call it the “cow chip”). The wagon of officially sanctioned cowpies is wheeled to the line, and the contestants (anyone can enter) take their time making the perfect selection.
As you might expect, candidates for local political office make the ceremonial first throws. This year. most were duds, but one burly rancher running for state senate managed an impressive 114 feet.
The team throws were met with less enthusiasm when some of the not-quite-dry patties broke up in the air and rained down on the spectators. (It was a windy day.)
The women’s champion threw a 144 feet and the men’s winner managed 168.
“Ain’t as good as last year,” said the local man standing next to me. “Last year he threw near 185.”
I allowed as how I might be back next year to give it a try.
“Bit of advice,” he said with a grin. “Lick your fingers good between your first and second throw. Gives it a better spin in the air.”
Besides the Beaver Dunes state park, there are great boondocking sites in the Rita Blanca National Grassland to the west and the Black Kettle Grassland to the south. Western Oklahoma may not draw the crowds, but you’re guaranteed to see things there you can’t see anywhere else. Happy travels!
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