This ongoing tradition began way back in the year 1939, when members of the Freedom Chamber of Commerce decided to sponsor a reunion and chuck wagon feed in honor of the old time cowhands of this vast area who braved the perils and hardships of the range in search of their fortune.
Previous to the day of the reunion, invitations were sent to all old cowhands whose names and addresses could be obtained. One hundred twenty five invitations were sent out that first year, and back came enthusiastic assurances that nothing would keep the old boys away.
Come they did, from Wichita to Arkansas, from Fort Supply to Woodward -- a splendid group of old time cattlemen meeting in a happy reunion.
The tradition continues to this day in light of a few changes over the course of time. The meal is still free to those who attend the gathering. The Chamber of Commerce now gears up to feed nearly a thousand beef and bean dinners on Saturday afternoon. A huge number of people donate not only beef for the meal, but also their time and effort to plan, prepare and serve for the occasion. It is a gala celebration, and it provides a great opportunity for young and old to reunite in celebration of our rich heritage. One of the most recent changes the Chamber has made to the reunion is to add a reminder of days gone by, and stage the event outdoors.
A focal point of the reunion today is a program to honor the year's specially selected "OLD COWHAND." One person is selected each year by the Chamber of Commerce, and is recognized for his or her pioneer spirit, dedication to the Freedom community, goodwill toward other, and for generally just setting a good old fashioned example for others to follow in our "cowboy" way of life.
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