Last weekend at the Chuck Wagon Gathering opened at 10 a.m. and lasted to about 4 p.m. Both mornings most of us rope makers arrived about 8:30 but by then all the chuck wagon crews had been up and working for quite a while cooking up authentic trail food.
There were probably about 12-15 chuck wagons working.
Doesn't this brisket look fabulous? I didn't get any, darn it, but my brother bragged that it was amazing!
Three Dutch ovens baking...hmmm, what could they hold?
Cornbread? Biscuits? If we are lucky they'll be full of peach cobbler!!!
Ahhh!! Fresh cornbread. I snagged the first piece, warm and drizzled with honey. Add a cup of coffee and I was ready to go for the day.
All of the cooks didn't stop all day long. They shared samples of their food with anyone who stopped by.
Beans here and others had beef stew that melted in your mouth.
How to stir a huge pot of stew?
With a shovel of course....a clean one...I hope!
Coffee over a fire. I especially enjoyed this crew's method of cooking over a pit. This crew was right behind our rope making tent and they were nice enough to share their coffee in the mornings. Thanks, we needed it!
Most of my photo ops came in the mornings before the crowds and late afternoons when the demonstrators were cleaning up and relaxing.
And how do a bunch of cowboys relax? By playing with ropes of course!
Jake, one of our rope making bunch, got to playing with his bullwhip one afternoon and my goodness was it ever loud! Some of the other guys tried it out and quickly learned that Jake made it look much easier than it was. I'm pretty sure Mountain Man accidentally whipped himself playing with one.
This chuck wagon cook took a few minutes from washing his dishes to show Little Charlie just how to break in his new rope.
But the most impressive, I would say, was Sue Cunningham. Sue has got to be in her 70's..maybe 80's! And she was right there sharing her roping skills too!
Sue Cunningham and her sister Jean Cates are champion chuck wagon cooks who learned chuck wagon cooking from their father, Dick Sheperd.
And boy do these women know how to cook!! They didn't just cook it and dish it out to the crowds like the rest of the chuck wagon crews. They gave demonstrations for two days making steaks, biscuits, cobblers, stews, pies while telling stories the whole time. But the best, oh the BEST were their cinnamon rolls! They brought some over to our tent while I was in the middle of making a rope and I just about died. They were the best cinnamon rolls I had ever had. Yes, better than Pioneer Woman's. (Sorry Ree, but I believe these ladies could out cook you any day!)
These women have published three Chuck Wagon Cookbooks which also includes their stories and memories of life and cooking out West. Check out the website for their cookbooks and you'll find a list of their awards...wow!
I took so many pictures (about 200) last weekend but still didn't come close to documenting it all. If I hadn't been making about a thousand ropes (yep, we definitely well over 1000) I would have taken more photos. The Chuck Wagon Gathering is one of the neatest festivals I've ever been to. If you are ever in Oklahoma City during Memorial Day weekend you should definitely check it out!