Oakdale’s FES Hall was packed on Monday night, March 30, as locals and out-of-towners feasted in a unique community fundraiser that helped support two organizations – the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce and the Oakdale Cowboy Museum. The fare: over 400 pounds of bull testicles, better known as Rocky Mountain Oysters, accompanied with beans, Caesar salad, and French bread.
“I ate them as a kid, but I never knew what they were,” said first time attendee and descendent of the historic Willms family, Kelly Evans, before taking a bite. “When I found out back then what they were I told my mom ‘you mean I’ve been eating testicles?’ I haven’t eaten them since, so here we go.”
The Oakdale Testicle Festival became an annual event, first staged more than 30 years ago, as Oakdale Rotary Club members in the 1980s wanted to come up with an idea for an annual fundraiser. They sought something unique that would reflect the local western heritage of the area. The idea of a “calf fry” was presented and being a ranching community, there was plenty of “product” available from the locals. In 2001, the Cowboy Museum joined as a co-sponsor of the annual event.
This year’s festival honored one of Oakdale’s own, known to many in the professional rodeo community, none other than two-time PBR World Champion bucking bull Bushwacker.
From 2009 to 2013, Bushwacker went on a four-year buckoff streak, breaking the previous record of 35 buckoffs. He continued for an additional eight months and six events to reach 42 consecutive buckoffs. Bushwacker’s record streak came to an end on Aug. 17, 2013, when J.B. Mauney faced him for the ninth time in his career and rode the World Champion Bull for 95.25 points.
Although Bushwacker wasn’t at the event, and neither were any of his “parts” – he still has his – his owner, Oakdale resident Julio Moreno, was on hand and spoke to the gathering after a short video on the “guest of honor” was shown.
“He’s a good athlete and we’re going to go on the rest of the year before we retire him,” said Moreno. “He’ll have a great pasture of lush grass in his California home surrounded by cows to start a family.”
In addition to chowing down on the delicacy of the battered bovine nuggets, event goers were treated to an open bar and a live auction of several items that included a rifle, trips, and box seats for the upcoming annual Oakdale rodeo.
“This is a great partnership between the Oakdale Rotary and Cowboy Museum,” said Museum Executive Director Christie Camarillo. “Proceeds from the event assist the museum with its high school rodeo scholarships and also helps with the overall operation of the museum.”