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June 1, 2014

Dave Woods: OKC's cowboy culture explored

OKLAHOMA CITY — I was hesitant when I sat down for lunch at Cattleman’s Steakhouse in Stockyards City and my host ordered a lamb fries appetizer for our table. All of my life I’ve avoided eating the cowboy delicacy. But now, it seemed, was my time.

I was in Oklahoma City for a quick trip to check out the Western Heritage and Cowboy Museum. When in OKC I often call Seth Spillman and his crew at the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau for advice on where to go and what to see. On my list of other OKC destinations to explore on my short trip were the American Banjo Museum, Stockyards City and Cattleman's Steakhouse. I was ready to go.

On this particular day Seth and Tabbi Burwell, his new communications director, had some time of their hands and offered to escort me to a couple of “must see” destinations. We started off at Stockyards City, a hub for livestock sales. It was early in the week and a sale day. I met the CVB crew at the yards and we headed in. Walking across the wooden walkways above the cattle pens was an experience. I’m no stranger to rural life, but this was a first. Thousands of cattle heading off to be sold and fattened up – or to a more immediate end – scurried around beneath our feet. Riders on horseback hustled and rustled the stock from pen to pen, headed into the auction arena. Pretty impressive to see. Inside the auction arena a hundred or so buyers and sellers sat, mobile phones poised to make a quick call and bid on the lots of cattle as they were run though the ring. It’s been a weekly tradition at the stockyard since 1910. Today, more than 10 thousand head make it through the arena each week.

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