It’s hard to write a column about an event that not everyone is able to attend. Yet, recognize the unique opportunity this event offers to our community and its symbolic hat tilt to its western heritage.
The event I speak of, is the now ever popular and highly coveted Cowgirl Luncheon. I’ve penned a piece on this in past years, but 14 years later this one (not so little) fundraiser still prompts thoughts which I find value in sharing.
This year I was fortunate enough to attend with colleague Virginia Still. Still, aware of the event, privy to all the ‘newsroom’ stories of the wild and crazy which is Cowgirl Luncheon. had never been.
Personally, I’ve had the good fortune of attending multiple times. My first time back in 2005 with my son, who was not yet a year old. That was back in the ‘courtyard’ days, with tables set up adjacent to the Cowboy Museum and the infamous statue. Cowboys would then stream from Bachi’s with plates in hand and serve the ladies.
Since that time, I have attended with a table of girlfriends, as well as a work assignment. Yes, I know we really have some tough assignments as Oakdale Leader staff (insert sarcasm) and this would be one of my very toughest assignments.
This year, with co-worker Still at my side and her camera lens as a view finder I was offered a unique opportunity to ‘see’ a party I’ve grown to appreciate.
Here are just some of the treats I was able to witness.
Cowboys tipping hats:
Only women attend the Cowgirl Luncheon, the Cowboys in attendance are there with purpose … to serve the ladies. Serving the ladies more champagne, a mixed drink from the bar or a beautiful plate filled with the fixin’s of lunch. Some cruise around offering raffle tickets, others clearing your plates. But with each exchange, rest assured, you see a nod of the head and the tip of a hat.
Gentlemen, that’s what the Cowboy servers remind the ladies in attendance. They are a lot of things: cattlemen, ropers, riders and ranch hands but they were taught to be gentlemen.
The Oakdale Cowboy Museum is a 501c3 non-profit. Just like any notable non-profit they operate on fundraising, membership and generosity of donations. The live auction alone brought in a total of $10,000. Most items sold for well over their value, not because they’re exclusive or hard to find, but because the bidders are supporting the cause. Oh, sure it’s easy to get caught up in the fun as Travis rattles off the numbers and taunts the bidders with idle kidding but ultimately it’s about business. No one leaves disappointed.
Small town living:
This year marks my 14th year as an Oakdale community member. I hesitate to use the coveted term Oakdalean, as my heart truly belongs in the City. Yet, as much as the City is truly my home, I am blessed to be able to hang my hat in the 95361. This town, these people, this Western Heritage has embraced me as its own. Truthfully, it was not an easy transition. I lived the days of, ‘oh, you’re not from here,’ which in time transformed to ‘we’ll adopt you, just call us family.’ For all that I love about City living there are unique pieces, jewels which are unique to this town. The camaraderie, the feeling of belonging, the genuine kindness felt through a hug hello or good bye.
The community at large is what I would fondly describe as the real deal. The Cowgirl luncheon offers attendees a glimpse of this uniqueness.
As Still and I circled the room, both before and after lunch was served I was reminded of this gift. The unique knowledge of what it means to call a small town home.
I spotted young ladies, with cocktails in hand who I once photographed as children. As they chatted up their circle with cocktail in hand, arm around their mom and memories being made … what a gift.
More the merrier:
It is little secret, this event sells out every single year within less than an hour. Much of that is due to the items I have shared. People travel to town, just to attend this event.
For some acquiring tickets is impossible, the time of the day/week makes it hard to attend. Ladies actually take the day off work for this genuine gal pal time, because it is that much fun. It’s a memory making day that happens to be disguised as a fundraiser.
As we left, Still shared she understood why it was the hottest ticket in town. She could see why ladies stand in line for the opportunity to attend.
Secretly, I wished I had the answer on how to offer a small group of first time attendees the opportunity to attend at least once. Through Still I was able to see, the opportunity does more than treat the attendee to a memorable party. The opportunity offers the attendee a chance to witness what many of us are privy to live, Western Heritage is alive and well and we are privileged to call this place ‘home.’
Christie Camarillo, I once again tip my hat to you on not only a job well done, but a glimpse of why you love it so. Thank you.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.