Wild west shows have been around for 130 years.
The traveling vaudeville performances revealed what it was like to be a cowboy to audiences that grew up in metropolitan environments, and included famous cowboys like Wild Bill or Buffalo Bill Cody, Tom Mix, Bill Pickett and Will Rogers to name a few.
Marty Tipton, who is also known as The Oklahoma Kid, performed a wild west show for children at the Tahlequah Public Library Carnegie Room on Tuesday.
Tipton is a fourth-generation wild west showman with family ties to Rogers and Buffalo Bill. His dad was a rodeo world champion, as Tipton qualified for the 1986 National Finals Rodeo in the bull riding and team roping events.
“My grandfather was a performer and producer with the original Pawnee Bill Wild West Show, and the Two Bill’s Wild West Show that featured Pawnee Bill and Buffalo Bill,” he said. “My grandma and Will [Rogers] are cousins. They were favorite cousins, and used to write each other a lot.”
Tipton said his grandmother kept the letters Rogers would send her from places like Germany or Czechoslovakia in a drawer beside her dresser.
“She had a little bow tied around them, and she’d untie it real slow - about half mile an hour,” he said. “She opened up it like it was gold, and she would read the letters to us.”
Tipton is a retired professional rodeo cowboy, and now travels the country performing as a trick roper and public speaker. He was 9 years old when he performed his first show in 1978 at the 101 Ranch near Ponca City where he grew up, and now works with the Oklahoma Historical Society. During his trick roping show, Tipton likes to promote reading and education by presenting pictures of famous cowboys and noted historical figures like Pawnee Bill, Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and Geronimo.
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