Planning for Cattlemen's Week 2021 includes exciting new events

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital
Ben "Son" Johnson Jr., a champion rodeo cowboy and movie actor, is shown here at left. Also pictured are rodeo champions John Bowman and Jim Snively.

June 2020 in Pawhuska was relatively subdued, lacking in anticipation and excitement. The spread of COVID-19 led to the cancellation of traditional events, such as the annual Osage County Cattlemen’s Association luncheon, and the Ben Johnson Memorial Steer Roping.

With the process of vaccinating the population against COVID-19 underway, the OCCA is laying plans to try to “get back to business as usual,” association president Ford Drummond said.

Drummond explained by telephone last week that the cattlemen’s association hopes to be able to hold its usual luncheon, and that the committee that stages the Ben Johnson Memorial Steer Roping will be able to safely hold that event on Father’s Day.

The Ben Johnson Memorial Steer Roping is an anti-cancer benefit held in honor of the memory of Ben Johnson Sr. (1896-1952), a champion rodeo cowboy and rancher. Ben Johnson Sr. was the father of champion rodeo cowboy and Hollywood movie actor Ben "Son" Johnson Jr. (1918-1996).

Additionally, the OCCA has coordinated with Cody Garnett, owner of the Ben Johnson Cowboy Museum in Pawhuska, to add what could be exciting events to the lineup of activities for June 18-20. Those events are to include a Working Ranch Cowboys Association rodeo June 18-19, with competition beginning at 7 p.m. on each date and a Cowboy Dance to follow each evening.

Also in development for Cattlemen’s Week are a John Israel Cowboy Trade Show, and a Junior Ranch Rodeo.

The OCCA was able to hold its annual ranch tour in 2020, and plans for the 2021 version of the event are ongoing, Drummond said. While the full itinerary of the ranch tour has yet to be worked out, the OCCA has secured Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve as its final destination and the site for the post-tour picnic lunch, Drummond said.

Drummond voiced anticipation for the energy and appeal that new events can add to the Cattlemen’s Convention and Father’s Day weekend. The entire period is being branded as Ben Johnson Days.

“I think it’ll be a great addition to Father’s Day weekend,” Drummond said. “It will be an action-packed weekend.”

Garnett said he is thinking not only about June 2021, but about possibilities for growth in the Ben Johnson Days concept for 2022. He has in mind possibilities for new events in downtown Pawhuska – things like cowboy poetry performances, chuckwagon cooking competitions and the like – as ways to “showcase our Western way of life and ranching values.”

“At the end of the day, it’s being proud of who we are and our area,” Garnett said.