Story by Joe Vielma, Purple Sage Chuck Wagon
Photos provided by Chuck Wagons for Heroes
Chuck wagons have been a part of the west since the early years of the Cattle drives. The cattle drives brought meat to the East and settlers with dreams to the West. For many today, the heritage that they represent is one of respect and a strong bond between men as well as pride for our nation.
Three years ago, Chuck Wagon teams, John and Barbara Byram, Have Wagon will Travel, David and Sherry Roberts, Deep Fork Cattle Company, and I teamed up with thirty other Chuck Wagon teams in Lebanon, Missouri on Memorial Day weekend for their Wounded Warrior Event. A parade and music were followed by a meal of our choosing where we cooked and served a sample to approximately 100 people per wagon. During the weekend we fellowshipped with other Chuck Wagon teams.
Months later, when we were reminiscing about the good time we had at Lebanon, Missouri, John Byram asked why we couldn’t present an event of this caliber in Stillwater, Oklahoma. An idea and challenge was born.
We all met at the Byram farm in Perkins, Oklahoma several times during the following spring and started to gather information and ideas about where such an event would best be received in Payne County. The discussions led to questions we needed answering before we proceeded with our mission. David Roberts started making phone calls to other Chuck Wagon veteran event groups and Chuck Wagon cook teams. We needed to know how they felt about Oklahoma having a Chuck Wagon veteran event similar to the ones in Texas, Missouri, and Arkansas. The idea was becoming a reality.
A few months later the committee decided that the Chuck Wagon veteran event would represent the state of Oklahoma to support all Oklahoma Armed Forces veterans, along with their families and support groups, and named it Chuck Wagons for Heroes. Barbara Byram contacted the American Chuck Wagon Association and shared our event and planned a date with interested members. Local support groups including Morrison American Legion, Cross Brand Cowboy Church, and Cowboys United Cowboy Church among other supporters donated time, money, and auction items.
On September 28, 2018, at the Cross Brand Cowboy Church property on Fairgrounds Rd, Stillwater, OK, eleven Chuck Wagons arrived from Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, and Oklahoma. Camps were set up that evening followed by a Bar-B-Q dinner and fellowship hour.
On September 29, 2018, with the help and support of friends and volunteers, Chuck Wagons for Heroes opened the gates to the public.
The Chuck Wagons were the main attraction. Each one is unique with different makers and year models. Each cook team had their own brand and style of appetizers for the public to taste before the cook sampling feast at noon. The public paid at the gate and walked freely among the Chuck Wagons to sample all the cooked meals throughout the afternoon that were cooked on open fires as they did in the old west.
During the morning of the event, the public was entertained with gospel music provided by John and Wendy Bearry and Bob Duke. The National Anthem and afternoon music was provided by JD and LD Brower.
The American and Oklahoma flag was brought in on horseback and presented to a local Boys Scout team to present the colors. All military veterans present stood like statues, while parents and children also saluted the flags with respect and honor. The campfire smoke aroma and the fall season atmosphere brought the moment to a standstill. Only the birds could be heard singing on the majestic horizon.
This year, the Chuck Wagons for Heroes Fundraiser will be co-chaired with the Wounded Veterans of Oklahoma Organization and will be held on September 21, 2019, at the Payne County Expo Center in Stillwater, Ok. There will be live music by JD Brower Band, Marlow Gunfighters, vendors, and a live auction.
For more information contact Barbara Byram 405-612-3935 or Joe Vielma 405-742-7567 or go to find us on Facebook at facebook.com/Wagonsforsoldiers/.
Mission Statement: Chuck wagons for Heroes mission is to raise funds for military veterans in the state of Oklahoma, while preserving the heritage of the Chuck Wagon. The Chuck Wagons will prepare meals focusing on the Taste of the Old West, prepared in iron pots over an open fire, all the while keeping our history alive.