Turtles and Rodeo

turtles-rodeo-101-ranch-oklahomaIn 1930, a very interesting thing happened at the Miller’s 101 Ranch rodeo in Ponca City, Oklahoma. First a little nature lesson: when it rains heavy in Oklahoma, it is not uncommon to see turtles climbing toward higher places such as roads, hills, and even commercial and residential areas. That’s exactly what happened at the Ponca City rodeo; turtles started showing up all over the place. It rained so much that day it nearly ruined the event until someone came up with the idea of racing turtles instead of horses. With 10,000 entries, most of the turtles just went around in circles, however, it was entertaining enough that there were some declared winners. First place went to a turtle named Goober Dust, and the owner took home $7,100. While we’re talking turtles: There was even an organization created in 1936 entitled the Cowboy’s Turtle Association. The group started when cowboys collectively walked out of the rodeo at Boston Garden to protest the rodeo promoter W.T. Johnson, a man who refused to add cowboys’ entry fees to the rodeo’s total purse. Johnson gave into their demands and the Cowboy’s Turtle Association was started. The name comes from the fact that even though they were slow to organize when the time came they weren’t afraid to stick their necks out (such as a turtle).