Alva Review-Courier -

Freedom begins rodeo events with 82nd annual Queen Kickoff


Ashley Strehl

Contestants for the 2019 Freedom Rodeo are, from left: queen contestant Sadie Crusinbery, princess contestant Shay Wilson and queen contestant Kaylen Gaskill.

The 82nd annual Freedom rodeo and Old Cowhand reunion is just around the corner, which is one of this community's deepest and most treasured traditions. Rodeo events begin a month before, with the Queen Kickoff held at the local park under the pavilion.

Last Saturday, July 13, at 6 p.m. the community gathered at the local park to support the beginning of rodeo festivities in fellowship. To start the night the committee recognized the early passing of Cheyenne Benefield, the reigning 2018 Freedom rodeo princess. Community member Marvin Nixon, Benefield and her mother died last year in a single car accident.

To honor Benefield, the committee raised money at the kickoff for the annual $500 scholarship that will be given to the continuing Freedom rodeo princesses upon their graduation for years to come. A moment of silence was then held for Benefield and guests who attended took time to bow their heads. "At the beginning of the year, we lost a cowboy and two cowgirls that were a part of this community," 2018 Freedom Rodeo Queen Tiffany Weber said. "Even though the kickoff was a success, I couldn't help but miss Cheyenne. Last summer she grew as a very close person to my heart. Cheyenne will be missed deeply at rodeo this year."

Local cowhand Rick (R.C.) Brown was named the 2019 Old Cowhand, a high honor in the community. Brown will be recognized during rodeo weekend at the arena during the rodeo and at the Old Cowhand Reunion Luncheon held on Saturday, Aug. 17, at the local park.

Queen contestants were able to introduce themselves upon attending the evening's event. Sadie Crusinbery of Alva and Kaylen Gaskill of Waynoka will be competing for this year's queen title. Princess contestant Shay Wilson will compete for her title. Shay is an elementary school student at Freedom and the daughter of Shan and Ronna Wilson. "I have family that competed, and I love to ride horses," Wilson said.

Because the Freedom rodeo is so well known, this helps the committee reach out to potential contestants. "I have numerous family members that have done it," Crusinbery said. "It has always been a dream of mine."

Not only is this rodeo a big part of Freedoms history, it is also part of the history of surrounding communities. "My aunt was the Freedom Rodeo Queen 22 years ago," Gaskill said. "These are really good people, and this is a really good rodeo."

Items that will be awarded to the contestants were auctioned off by auctioneer M.J Odgen. Weber and the contestants assisted the auctioneer by taking various items and walking them around the venue for interested participants to see. Highest paying items included the Old Cowhand's belt buckle for $1,000, the princess' horsemanship belt buckle for $525, queen horsemanship belt buckle for $325, the queen belt buckle for $500, the Queen crown for $300, the queen trophy saddle and breast collar for $800 and the princess trophy saddle and breast collar for $700.

Other auctioned items included various desserts made by community members such as a coconut crème pie made by Louise Darr that was auctioned off for $110. All proceeds made at the auction will go into the queen committee account.

Ashley Strehl

This banner was made in memory of Cheyenne Benefield.

"We are glad to be able to do this," Rodeo Queen Committee chair Dalene Dauphin said. "It is good for the girls who are running for the queen and princess titles. They have to go through the whole pageant process, and it teaches them a lot. It's good for our little town; what money we collect through the rodeo goes back into the chamber, which then helps our school and other community events and issues. I'm just thankful for all that came and supported us."

Freedom will soon see a new rodeo queen to represent the community. "I grew up in the Freedom community and went to high school here and I feel very honored to have been the Freedom Rodeo Queen," Weber said. "Good luck to the rodeo queen and princess contestants."

The 82nd Freedom Rodeo and Old Cowhand Reunion will be held on Aug. 15, 16 and 17. Donations for the Benefield Memorial can be made by calling Patricia Dauphin at 580-430-8113.


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