Cavalcade Chuck Wagon driver starting 37th year in local race

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

Sitting near the entrance of the Cavalcade campgrounds at the Osage County Fairgrounds, Larry Morphew was in a familiar spot Sunday.

Morphew, who is making his 45th Cavalcade appearance, has used the same camping site every July for 30 years.

“The Bartlesville (Sooner Saddlers) group had been in this spot,” said Morphew. “When they stopped coming here, the Yale club moved in — and we’ve been here ever since.”

Morphew was 8 when attended his first Cavalcade in 1971. He started competing at the Pawhuska amateur rodeo seven years later with the Yale Roundup Club.

In 1986, Morphew organized the 4-Bar Roundup Club. The 4-Bar group has since become Cavalcade’s all-time winningest club — winning 15 Best All Around Club awards its 30-year history.

Morphew is driver of the 4-Bar entry in the Chuck Wagon Race, which is one of Cavalcade’s original events. The four-man Chuck Wagon team is comprised of the driver, a shotgun rider and two mounted outriders. (There have been years when every member of the team has been named Morphew.) The 4-Bar chuck wagon team has won the race nearly as many times as 4-Bar has won Best Club honors.

This will be Morphew’s 37th straight year competing in the local Chuck Wagon Race and the 36th year in a row he has driven a wagon here.

“I’m pretty sure that’s a record,” Morphew admitted.

After finishing third in its Cavalcade debut, 4-Bar won Best Club honors in its second year (1987), then repeated the accomplishment in 1988. The club became Cavalcade’s all-time leader in All Around victories two years ago.

“That was our 14th — which I remember since we did it in 2014,” Morphew, who’s the club’s president, said. “Then, we won our 15th in 2015.”

Last year, the Yale-based club claimed its third straight title by defeating a record number of 120 clubs. With another victory this year, 4-Bar would become the fifth club in Cavalcade history to win four times in a row.

The previous leader in club victories was Turley Roundup Club, which won the first of its 14 titles at the fourth Cavalcade in 1953 and the most recent one in 1991. Turley also is one of the clubs to win four straight Best Club awards. The first to accomplish that feat was Kansas’ Edna Roundup Club (1954-57).

Owasso RUC, which stands third on the total-wins list with 11 titles, won four in a row from1965-68. The aforementioned Bartlesville Sooner Saddler completed a four-peat from1974-77 and Turley’s run came from 1982-85.

Morphew said 4-Bar always has a plan for a club victory at Cavalcade.

“For most of us, this is a week’s vacation, so we try to enjoy it,” said Morphew, adding: “But, we do take it seriously.”