Freedom Annual

Rodeo 2021

Freedom's annual rodeo, held the third weekend of August, has been drawing fans and contestants from all across the nation for over 84 years. This three-day celebration includes every major event in the sport of rodeo ranging from barrel racing to wild bull riding. This beloved rodeo event combines professional action with hometown color and style. A dance is held nightly following the rodeo and features some of the best country musicians around to ensure a foot stompin' good time. On Saturday, guests are invited to the Old Cowhand Reunion at 11am and then to partake in a free chuck wagon style dinner at noon. The Old West setting of Freedom's Main Street provides the perfect backdrop to all of the rodeo activities.

Advance Tickets
Adults: $8 / Child (6 to 13): $4 / Child (5 and under): Free

At the Gate 
Adults: $15 / Child (6 to 13): $10 / Child (5 and under): Free



Experience pure Americana and true Western heritage at the annual Freedom Rodeo & Old Cowhand Reunion in northwest Oklahoma. Held since 1938, this has been continuously recognized as one of Oklahoma's most outstanding annual events. Make your way to the small town of Freedom, nestled on the banks of the Cimarron River, to enjoy a KPRA/IPRA Rodeo, a street dance Thursday night on Main Street, a 5K and fun run, a parade, a free chuckwagon feed on Saturday.


Old Cowhand

Description of Picture.

Gary Earnest, pictured here with his wife Kathy, is the Freedom 2021 Honored Old Cowhand.


Ranching roots in the Freedom area run deep for Gary Gene Earnest. Gary was born on April 25, 1946, to Gene and Myrtle Earnest at the Freedom hospital, which was located in the building which is now the parsonage for the Christian Church. He grew up at the family homestead eight miles east of Freedom in the Fairvalley area, where his great grandparents William E. and Elizabeth Earnest and their son Elbert and daughter Lena moved from Missouri and settled in 1900.

Elbert and Arda (Livingston) reared Gary’s dad Gene and his siblings Forest, Opal Mae, and Rex in the Earnest family house which was built over a dugout. Neighbors included the Fulton, Carberry, and Eden families. This also was the life Gary grew up knowing: family, neighbors, horses and cattle. When Gary looks back on these days, he remarks that ranching was hard work for his parents and older sister Patsy during droughts and snowstorms, but as a kid, you didn’t always realize how hard it must have been.

Gary began riding a horse as a young boy; he rode Tony, Patsy’s horse, then, Apache. Lucky, and Jitterbug were other horses from his youth. The first horse he rodeoed on was Smoky, Mart Fulton’s horse. Then his folks bought Mike for a calf roping horse. One of Gary’s favorite calf roping horses that he rode as an adult was Gravy. Gravy made several appearances at the Freedom rodeo arena over the years. After Gravy retired, Gary rode a black horse called Bar.

Gary graduated from Freedom Schools and attended Oklahoma State University and Northwestern Oklahoma State University. He served in the Oklahoma Army National Guard for six years. He worked for several businesses in the Alva area, such as M and R Equipment Company and Kramp Feedlot before working for Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Company. His career with Panhandle included positions as Equipment Analyst, Controls Technician, and Measurement Technician. 

He worked for Panhandle until 1993. This seemed like a good year to retire…in order to work on the land full time. At this point he was operating the family ranch east of Freedom and farming for his wife’s parents, Bud and Norma Rauh east of Alva. Then, neighbor Arly Eden asked Gary if he was interested in leasing half of the Dalton Ranch along the Cimarron River. Gary built up the herd with Black Angus stock and for a few years assisted Luddington Cattle Company with their bull sale.

Because Gary enjoyed the sport, he was an active volunteer and participant in the Freedom Rodeo. In the summer he would show up on Chamber workdays at the rodeo grounds to work with C. R. Nixon, Jim London, Arly Eden, Les Kamas, Tracy Walker, and many other volunteers from Freedom and area ranches to groom the arena, weld and paint chutes, and mow the parking area for the third weekend in August. 

For twenty odd years, Gary served on the Rodeo Committee, later serving as chairman alongside arena directors Gary Gerloff and Ky Luddington. The committee knew rodeo and worked with various stock contractors over the years such as Beutler, Charlie Plummer, and Barby. For several years, C.A. Lauer from Buffalo supplied the roping calves. Planning for the rodeo began in the spring with setting dates, organizing concession volunteers, printing flyers, working with the queen and program committees and also the American Legion for rodeo dances, supporting the chuck wagon feed, hiring contractors, judges, and rodeo clowns, and taking entries. Then everything had to come together for three nights of rodeo entertainment!

Some things in ranching have changed over the years, such as grazing and breeding improvements. The family operation begun by William and his children in the early 1900s has evolved into a family corporation, Brass Spur, named for a set of spurs owned by Gene. 

On the other hand, some things haven’t changed on the ranch, such as working cattle. In the spring Gary’s family and neighbor Arly Eden come together for roundup and spend the day working in the wide-open spaces of western Woods County.

Today the Earnest family includes Gary and his wife of 44 years, Kathy.

Son, Dustin and Teresa and family: daughter Siera, Sean, and Jameson Doherty, also son Stanton, and Teresa’s son Ethan Nelson and his wife Drew, Alva, OK

Daughter, Taren, Alva, OK

Son, Sage and Meg and daughter Easton, Fort Worth, TX

Daughter, Savanah and Mike Herrmann, Dallas, TX and Sydney, Australia

It’s a good time to remember family, ranching, and rodeo events in the Freedom area. Other family members who have been selected for Honored Cowhand include Lena Earnest Selman in 1963 and Gene Fulton Earnest in 1987. And it’s a good time to thank the Freedom Chamber of Commerce for this honor at the Freedom Rodeo and wish them the best in continuing this fine tradition