Oklahoma Secret: Boley Rodeo

I grew up in Oklahoma and never heard of Boley, or 40 other “black towns’ that were formed in the early 1900s by African Americans looking for the “promised land.”


Boley, 53 miles southwest of Tulsa, is one of a couple that are still there, and has — for decades — hosted a wonderful three-day Memorial Day Weekend event, Boley’s “black rodeo.”

No one seems to know how long it’s been around, but last year at the Oklahoma Historical Society, I tracked an early version of the event (“The Great Summer Carnival”) from microfiche of The Boley Progress, dated June 29, 1905; note that’s before Oklahoma was a state: “Boley, Indian Territory.”


For more Boely fun, here’s an article I did on Boley for Lonely Planet, as well as my episode of the “76-Second Travel Show”:


If you go, and it really is fun, Saturday is the best night, and be sure to get that “potato on a stick.”


About Robert Reid

Robert Reid is a travel writer (Lonely Planet, New York Times, ESPN), travel expert (Today Show, CNN's Headline News), travel videographer (76-Second Travel Show) and travel artist (don't ask).
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