It’s the hottest ticket in town and for 464 lucky ladies — it’s money well-spent.
For the 12th consecutive year, The Oakdale Cowboy Museum has found itself in the enviable position of hosting the most-sought after rodeo kick-off event and judging by the waiting list that ended up being more than 100 people deep…that ain’t gonna change anytime soon.
What began as a modest event with 80 ladies has swelled to its current numbers as the cowboys serve the ladies bubbly beverages of champagne, beer and wine as well as provide plenty of entertainment from playful winks to ribald jokes. In addition, the Cowboy Museum uses this event to honor one special cowgirl who has exerted particular influence during her lifetime. This year, Joane Santos, a lifelong member of the Oakdale Saddle Club was chosen for the distinction. A short slideshow commemorated Santos’ life and Santos elicited a standing ovation from the crowd for her contributions and her giving spirit.
And if that wasn’t enough of a good time…this year, they even auctioned off two double dates with a few of the eligible cowboy bachelors.
“This was our first time auctioning off the cowboys and it was not planned,” Christie Camarillo, Cowboy Museum Executive Director, said. “One of the ladies said ‘if you auction off a date with one of cowboys, I’ll buy’ and one thing led to another and next thing we know…it was happening!”
And those ladies were serious. Both dates snapped up tidy sums at the live auction, going for $900 and $700 respectively.
Since the purpose of the event is to raise funds, Camarillo — after a quick nod of approval from her board president — went for it.
“It was all in good fun,” Camarillo said. “And the money goes to a good cause.”
Membership has its privileges and tickets go to Cowboy Museum members first. On the day the tickets went on sale, within hours they were sold out.
For some, both cowboys and cowgirls — the event is circled on their calendar for the day off.
And for good reason. Traditionally, after the luncheon, the ladies make their way down to the H-B Saloon where the revelry picks up where the luncheon left off.
Heidi Adams, an Oakdale resident, was dressed in her cowgirl finery, enjoying her third year at the Cowgirl Luncheon, only this time she brought along her best friend as a birthday present.
“I love the Cowgirl Luncheon,” Adams said when asked why the luncheon was a must-go event. “All the women and conversation, listening to the stories, and hanging out with the girls. Plus, now the younger generation is coming and that’s nice to see, too. It’s just better than ever.”
Adams’ best friend, Linda Osborn, was all smiles for her first Cowgirl Luncheon saying, “It was a great present. Phenomenal. I took the day off to come and I’m loving it.”
The cowboys — who are the entertaining focal point of the luncheon — always take their jobs seriously and make it a point to attend, even though some have difficult schedules due to cattle season.
“Even though many have conflicts because of cattle season, the cowboys always make it a priority,” Camarillo said. “The cowboys have a lot of fun. They realize it’s a fundraiser for the museum and they make it happen.”
Another staunch supporter of the event is Medlen’s House of Beef, responsible for the luncheon catering every year.
“Steve Medlen is so good,” Camarillo said. “He rallies on your behalf for fundraisers. It didn’t matter how many times I came to him with an increased order, he just said, ‘Christie, you keep selling those tickets and we’ll take care of the rest!’ and how can you not love that?”
Although Camarillo would love to expand the event, at 464 people they are at capacity for the community center and there simply isn’t a big enough venue within Oakdale to house the event.
So, for now, the hottest ticket in town will remain a highly-sought after limited seating Oakdale event, solidifying the belief that the Cowboy Capital of the World is the place to be if you’re looking for fun during the second week in April — otherwise known as Rodeo Week.