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Chuck Wagons: Symbol of the West

Introducing: The American Chuck Wagon Association!

Are you aware that there is an organization dedicated to preserving the history of chuck wagon cooking and the cattle trailing industry?

Amazingly the great livestock migration barely lasted thirty years, yet we still talk about the cowboys and continue to be enthralled with the dangers they overcame. That history is what inspired the ACWA. What began as a small group of Old West enthusiasts has now expanded into a world wide association preserving the American past through competitions, demonstrations, charity and school events and other venues. Members of the American Chuck Wagon Association are dedicated to keeping that history alive, and they WORK at it. In fact, they are some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met.

Preparing a fire pit and outfitting a chuck wagon with enough supplies to feed fifty or more people is daunting enough. The cooking teams also load and transport their authentic chuck-box kitchens to various events held across the country. Most of their wagons are dated from the late 1800s, and have been lovingly restored. They serve up authentic meals using the cooking techniques once practiced by “Cookies” in cow camp. I have met so many interesting people who have willingly talked to me about their techniques and recipes. I continue to be amazed at how much time and effort goes into this passion, and I learn something new every time I hang around the ACWA bunch.

Sourdough biscuits from the Cocklebur Camp Chuck Wagon.

The mission statement of the American Chuck Wagon Association is:
To preserve the heritage of the Chuck Wagon.

This will be accomplished by the following Core Values:

  • Integrity.
  • Education on historically correct aspects of Chuck Wagons and its importance to the beef cattle industry.
  • Fair competitive events and the promotion of youth cook-offs.
  • Fun for people passionate about chuck wagons.
  • A desire to support our communities through various outreaches and educational scholarships.
  • Inspiring future generations to embrace the chuck wagon and western heritage.
Several member wagons of the ACWA were set up in Kingfisher, OK at the Chisholm Trail Museum delighting visitors with samples of sourdough biscuits and cobbler.

Anyone can be a member of the American Chuck Wagon Association. Show your support in keeping our history alive. Git over to their website for more information:

Several weeks ago I autographed my cookbook, KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’, in Kingfisher, Oklahoma at the Chisholm Trail Museum. Make this museum a must stop during a weekend get-away. Plus their gift shop happens to carry my book, so grab a copy while you’re there.

The museum features many excellent exhibits about the American West and cattle trails. Across the street is the impressive home of the third Territorial Governor of Oklahoma, Abraham Jefferson Seay. The three story home was completed in March 1892. To see more photos from the chuck wagon event in Kingfisher, sign-up for my eNewsletter or check out my Instgram account @natsgrams.

Chuck Wagon Events Near You!

You can experience the food of the cow camps by attending an event this summer. These folks are very friendly and they will talk your ear off about their wagons and the history. Don’t be shy! Say hello and ask questions. For more information check the local Chamber of Commerce or City events pages as listed below.

  • April 28-30, 2023 Logan, New Mexico
    Canadian River Renegades Cook Off
    For info on how you can purchase a meal ticket, call Bucky at 575-403-7680 or Sharon at 575-403-8320
  • May 5-6, 2023, Breckenridge, Texas, Bob Drake Memorial Chuck Wagon Cook Off. For more info on how to purchase a meal ticket to eat one of the chuck wagons, call the Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce 254-559-2301
  • May 11-14, 2023 Abilene, Texas. Sestern Heritage Classic. For more info on how to purchase a meal ticket, please call 325-677-4376
  • May 20, 2023 Pueblo, Colorado. 2nd Annual Chuck Wagon Rendezvous. The Historic Charles Goodnight Barn, Pueblo, Colorado. If you want to get a meal ticket to this great event, please reach out to Sally @ 719-250-3500 or send an email to:
  • May 27, 2023 Missouri. 12th Annual Wagons for Warriors. Cowan Civic Center, Lebanon Fairgrounds, Lebanon, Missouri.
  • May 27-28, 2023 Oklahoma. 32nd Annual Chuck Wagon Festival National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Chuck Wagon Team invite only event; however, if you want to purchase tickets to sample some great chuck wagon cuisine, call the Museum @ 405-478-2250
  • June 1-3, 2023 Amarillo, Texas. Coors Cowboy Club’s Chuck Wagon Gathering Tri State Fair Grounds, Amarillo, Texas.
  • June 4, 2023 Fort Sisseton Youth Cook Off, Fort Sisseton, 11907 434th Avenue, Lake City, South Dakota. For more info, contact Cassandra Swanson via email: or phone 605-359-5105
  • June 17, 2023 Pueblo. 1st Annual 4 Bar S Gathering Chuck Wagon Rendezvous Pueblo, Colorado.

Authentic Cow Camp Recipes and School Programs!

Based on over one year of research for KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’, I have designed a talk around the Texas Longhorn breed and the life of cow tailing cowboys. If you know of a book club or organization that might be interested in a discussion about the American West cattle trails, contact me and let’s get your group on the calendar. Click on the Contacts Tab at the top of the page. Sign up for my newsletter for interesting history bytes, photos, and recipes!

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Natalie Bright is an blogger, speaker, and author of fiction and nonfiction books for kids and adults. She writes romance with co-author Denise F. McAllister and historical fiction chapter books for ages 8-10. KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN‘ features authentic recipes from the cattle trail era along with ranch photography and history of the American WestComing early spring 2024, END OF TRAIL EATS will feature the food and history of cowtowns.