Skiatook is alive with Old West wagon races
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Sunday, May 13, 2012
5/13/12 at 5:46 AM
SKIATOOK - The spirit of the Old West is alive and well this weekend in Skiatook.
The third annual Oklahoma Championship Wagon Races are being held through Sunday at 394756 N. 3900 Road, about three miles west of U.S. 75. The western-themed event is a trip back in time to an era when a speedy wagon might allow the driver to stake a claim to a piece of Oklahoma land before anyone else.
Event organizer Johnny Williams said Saturday the desire to have wagon races close to home led to the decision to hold the event on his family's land.
Williams said about 15 wagons were expected to participate in this weekend's event - also billed as "Wagons Ho!" - in various categories such as "buckboards," "outlaw" and "cross-country."
Patrick Gardenhire ofClaremore said he first got into wagon racing about eight years ago through a friend. He has learned to enjoy the hobby so much that he participates in several races a year.
Gardenhire's wagon was pulled Saturday by a pair of excitable Welsh/Shetland ponies who - even after their event was over - seemed to interpret every subsequent race-starting gunshot blast as meant for them.
For a lot of enthusiasts, wagon racing is a family affair. Daniel Hayes came to Skiatook from Leonard, Texas, with three vehicles full of family members.
Brothers Jeromiah McCause and Thomas McCause banded together on a team while their nephew, Mikey McCause, competed in another category.
"It's fun stuff," Thomas McCause said.
Dexter Bolin, 65, of Oologah was on a four-foot by six-foot wagon pulled by a pair of 40-inch-tall mules named Bert and Ernie.
They were able to run the course in about 23 seconds Saturday, which Bolin called a "good mule time."
The big event on the wagon racing calendar comes on Labor Day weekend when the National Championship Chuckwagon Races are held in Clinton, Ark., where about 150 teams are qualified to compete in five different divisions for the title of national champion.
Gardenhire said he knows only about a dozen people in Oklahoma who wagon race on a regular basis.
"It's going the way of everything else," Gardenhire said of an activity that is commonly associated with the late 19th century.
David Harper 918-581-8359
Jeromiah McCause and Thomas McCause of Skiatook pilot their wagon, "Silver Strike Express," around a corner in the annual Skiatook Wagon Races. KT KING / Tulsa World
Jarrod Rust leads a donkey that is ridden by Cooweesta Williams at an event at the Skiatook Wagon Races on Saturday. Rust and Williams finished first in their heat. KT KING / Tulsa World