OMAK — Anita Waggoner’s connection to the rodeo has come full circle.
The granddaughter of Omak rodeo legend Leo Moomaw, she attended her first Omak Stampede in the ’40s when she was a few days old. Moomaw was one of the founders of the Omak Stampede and Suicide Race and a stock contractor whose bucking stock was well-known.
Growing up in Omak in the ’50s and ’60s, Waggoner spent time at her grandfather’s ranch, hanging out behind the scenes at rodeos. Bull riding events were her favorite, followed by the Suicide Race. She loved seeing the riders break over the hill and tumble down the steep bank and sandy runway into the river below.
After graduating from Omak High School, she moved to the city, leaving behind the horses, the rodeo and cowboys.
Or so she thought.
Years later, after a divorce turned her world upside down, she met an Oklahoma cowboy at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas who whisked her back to the cowboy way of life. She went from living the life of a socialite to owning a ranch in Freedom, Oklahoma, and raising rodeo bulls as a female stock contractor for the professional rodeo events throughout the southern states and beyond.
She later sold the ranch and lodge to Jerry Nelson of Frontier Rodeo Company.
Her novel, “Farewell to Freedom,” tells a fictionalized version of her story. She first published the book in 2011 and has reworked it this year. The new version, with a new cover, will be available on Amazon in August. It is dedicated, she said, to her cowboy partner, former bull rider Marvin Nixon, who was killed in an automobile accident in Oklahoma in January.
She also is working on a screenplay.
Waggoner credits her success and ability to carry on the family rodeo tradition to the examples of greatness her granddad instilled in her as a child.