A Rare Occasion
Cowboy poetry gatherings, a mixture of spoken-word poetry and western music, usually feature a variety of performers in one-to-three-day events.
It is a rare occasion where a few performers gather at a ranch house and a few fortunate listeners are privileged to sit at the dining table or living room sofa for two hours of close-up cowboy poetry and music. Should that be called a cowboy poetry gathering? Definitely!
Saturday night, July 2, at a ranch house near Gainesville, Texas, that is exactly what happened at a birthday party. Three of the best performers in the genre made it a memorable evening.
Thank you, David Sampson, for your hospitality!
Poetry, Music, and Storytelling at the 36th Annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering May 28-29
The 36th Annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering will be held this weekend, May 28-29, in Medora, North Dakota, at the Medora Community Center.
Day shows on both Saturday and Sunday (1 PM-4 PM) are free to attend. Enjoy a variety of cowboy poetry, music, and story telling. Sunday morning will start off with cowboy gospel singing at 9 AM. There will be a Western Arts Show in conjunction with the Gathering in the Roosevelt Room at the Medora Community Center. Enjoy art from local and national artists, as well as Western leatherwork demos.
Night shows begin each evening at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for high schoolers, $5 for kids, and free for 5 and under. Saturday night's show features poet Marci Broyhill from Dakota City, NE; singer Vernon Prestegord from Twin Valley, MN; poet Jim Hamilton from Decker, MT; singer Kurt Rockeman from Great Falls, MT; with emcee Bill Lowman from Sentinel Butte, ND. Sunday night features poet Ron Hansen from New Town, ND; singer Richard Mosch from Erhard, MN; singer Tom Brosseau from Grand Forks, ND; with emcee Connie Gjermundson of Taylor, ND.
Dancing, Barbecue, and More at the Best Little Cowboy Gathering in Texas
The Best Little Cowboy Gathering in Texas continues today in La Grange, at the Fayette County Fairgrounds, approximately 65 miles southeast of Austin.
Saturday events include cowboy music and storytelling; music from Jake Hooker, Jody Nix, Jason Allen, Steve Helms, Ricky Trevino, and Jody Booth; Jody Nix and Rocky King at the dance hall; the judging of the barbecue cookoff (with categories including beef brisket, pork ribs, pork butt, chicken, chili and pinto beans); children's activities (bouncy houses, face painting, treasure hunts, and mutton bustin'); and access to vendors selling arts and crafts.
General admission is $25 at the gate for one day, with dance hall access only available to VIPs who mailed in checks early. The Best Little Cowboy Gathering in Texas is held the second full weekend in March, and advance tickets are available each year. For more info, see bestlittlecowboygathering.com or visit them on Facebook.
Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous Comes to Logan This Weekend
The Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous will hold their 12th annual event this weekend at a new venue, the Cache County Event Center.
Friday night includes a free concert on the Main Stage at 7 PM featuring Colorado musician Jon Chandler, New Mexico singer/songwriter Doug Figgs, and Oregon cowboy poet Tom Swearingen, followed by a cowboy family dance with music by the Sagwitch Basin Boys. A western swing dance contest will be held during intermission.
Saturday morning will begin with a patriotic poetry contest for kids and adults and a kids' cowboy poetry contest. Free entertainment and activities for kids, youth, and adults is offered Friday night and all day Saturday. Food vendors will be onsite as well, and cowboy church will be held at 9:30 AM Sunday.
See cvcowboy.org for a complete listing of activities, entertainers, and ticket prices where applicable.
Music, Poetry, and Smiles at Lone Star Gathering
The classrooms, hallways, and auditorium of Sul Ross State University were alive with cowboy hats, guitars, banjos, chords, and rhymes Feb. 18-19, as the Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering convened on campus.
More than 1,500 individuals were present for the Gathering, including paid ticketholders, free session attendees, performers, volunteers, and staff, with as many as 20 percent of them first-time attendees. They came from 30 states as well as Israel and Germany.
Performer Brenn Hill said, "Thank you Lone Star Gathering for your efforts and hospitality. One of the favorite events of my lifetime. Here's to many, many more." His colleague Daron Little said, "What a great gathering." Attendee Barbara Denny George echoed the sentiments of many, saying on Facebook, "What a great day! New faces and old faces! Great entertainment!"
Miles City Cowboy Poetry Gathering Scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 27
The Miles City Cowboy Poetry Gathering, an annual fundraiser for the Range Riders Museum, will be held on Sunday, Feb. 27 on the grounds of the museum in Miles City, Montana.
The Range Riders Museum has an expansive campus with 13 buildings showcasing the history of southeastern Montana, including a large collection of firearms and arrowheads (the Bert Clark Guns exhibit), a C.M. Russell gallery, the Wagon Depot with antique vehicles, and much more. They also have a 300-seat event venue, Memorial Hall, and are open to visitors April 15-Oct. 15, 8 AM to 5 PM (closed Tuesdays).
Texas Hill Country Cowboy Gathering Called ''A Perfect Day''
The Texas Hill Country Cowboy Gathering held the pandemic version of their regular gathering on October 23 with a one-day event at the Bella Vita Ranch in Hye, Texas.
Attendee Kay Nowell said, "The event kicked off with a superb concert presented by Andy Hedges, Joel Nelson, Randy Rieman, and Pipp Gillette with Lloyd Wright. We were taken on a journey through song, story, and original and classical poetry that constantly delighted us. These were some of the finest songsters, poets, reciters, and musicians in the country performing in an idyllic setting."
"A special moment was shared when Lauren Padgett got out her Santa Cruz guitar and sang 'Coyotes,' a song made popular by her grandfather, the beloved Don Edwards."
After the concert, those attending enjoyed a pig roast dinner under the trees by the pond. Old friends caught up with each other and new ones were made as they waited for the Mike Blakely Band to set up on the outdoor stage. Then they danced the night away to traditional western dance tunes and Mike Blakely originals featuring Doc Blakely on fiddle.
Nowell continued, "At the end of a perfect day, we were all grateful to John Muraglia for opening his Bella Vita Ranch to us and planning this outstanding event."
Western Folklife Center Cancels National Cowboy Poetry Gathering for January 2022
On Oct. 21, the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada announced the cancellation of the upcoming 38th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, planned for Jan. 24-29, 2022.
In their announcement, the Center said, "After careful consideration of logistical challenges and financial hurdles due to the COVID pandemic, we have determined it will be impossible to deliver a Gathering experience that resembles anything close to what we have all come to expect. The Gathering has always been unique—it is so much more than just a week full of entertaining and educational programs. People come here to be together, to hug, to dance, to eat and drink, to sit shoulder-to-shoulder while listening to poetry and music. It's multigenerational, because we celebrate age and wisdom and connection with our elders. It's in winter, when ranchfolk have a little downtime. It's almost exclusively indoors, because we celebrate the nuances of silence and the spoken word (and it's usually cold outside!). It's in Elko, because this is a cowboy town and that's how we like it. Our community, however, is experiencing a very serious surge in COVID numbers. Elko County has seen a rise in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths over the past two months. By order of the governor, masks are currently required indoors for everyone. We know that we cannot enforce that due to the nature of our event, and frankly, we can't imagine it feeling like the Gathering with them."
The WFC continued, "With so much uncertainty, it is unclear what will be required in January, but after surveying our artists, volunteers, members, ticket buyers, and extended workforce, we know now that we will be unable to accommodate the broad spectrum of expectations in producing both a safe and comfortable event for everyone—let alone something that comes anywhere close to their memories of past events. No matter what we do, we know that decreased ticket sales will not cover increased costs to produce the event, and that could jeopardize the future of both the Western Folklife Center and the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering."
"We will be bringing you some special programming, livestreamed from our iconic Elko venue in January (details to be revealed soon). We are also exploring more ways to connect with you in the coming year, both online and in person. We are getting right to work planning the 2023 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and remain committed to fulfilling the Western Folklife Center's mission to use story and cultural expression to connect the American West to the world. Our nationally recognized cultural center is open to local residents and visitors Monday through Friday 10 AM to 5:30 PM, and 10 AM to 5 PM on Saturday. We hope you will stop by to see us."
Waddie Mitchell, cowboy poet and co-founder of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, added, "We're all disappointed, but the board has made a wise decision. It's like finding out the road's washed out when you're headed to the yearly dance. You've got a date and you're on the wrong side and there's nothing you can do about it. It's no one's fault. You just have to say, 'Shucks. We'll try it again next year."'
Those interested in supporting the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering may wish to consider becoming a member of the Western Folklife Center. Membership begins at $50 per year, and has a number of benefits, including video access.
Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering and Western Swing Festival Kicks Off Tomorrow
Held in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards each October, the 2021 Gathering will take place Oct. 22-24. This is the 30th anniversary Gathering, and includes musicians, poets, a children's poetry contest for multiple age groups, a cowboy trappings and trade show, a wagon train, a chuckwagon cookoff competition, ranch rodeo and roping events, a youth fiddle contest, a cattle dog challenge, a cowboy gospel concert, and multiple performances by Red Steagall and the Boys in the Bunkhouse with Bobby Flores, Jake Hooker, and Jason Roberts.
Other scheduled performers include Jean Prescott, Dan Roberts, Mikki Daniel, Hailey Sandoz, Kristyn Harris, R.W. Hampton, Chris Isaacs, Jay Snider, Yvonne Hollenbeck, and Straw Berry.
The wagon train left Jacksboro, Texas on Sunday, Oct. 17 and arrives in the Stockyards today.
Past crowds have ranged from 25,000 to 35,000 people throughout the 3-day event. Along with the tens of thousands of visitors, hundreds of ranch rodeo contestants, poets, musicians, wagon train participants, and vendors from all over the country join in on the festivities.
For tickets, see the RSCG website: redsteagallcowboygathering.com
Western Slope Cowboy Gathering Scheduled for Nov. 5-6
The Western Slope Cowboy Gathering (WSCG) was founded in 2016 by three Grand Junction, Colorado, local performers (Terry Nash, Peggy Malone, and Nona Kelley Carver), when the former Grand Junction Cowboy Poetry Gathering was at risk of fading away. Each year, the Gathering features twelve to fourteen performers, with a cadre of regulars and a few new ones each year. It's held in Grand Junction the first weekend of November, in partnership with the Museums of Western Colorado, and enjoys a huge turnout of fans and supporters. This year's dates are Nov. 5-6.
Headliners have included Jean and Gary Prescott, Kristyn Harris, Trinity Seely, and Jeneve Rose Mitchell. This year the Gathering will be headlined by The Cowboy Way trio, featuring Jim Jones, Doug Figgs, and Mariam Funke.
WSCG regularly features award winners such as Floyd and Valerie Beard, Dale Page, Dennis Russell, Terry Nash, and Peggy Malone, to name a handful. In 2021, attendees will see a number of performers new to the Gathering, including Caitlyn Taussig, Evelyn A. Roper, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, and Duane Nelson. Organizers are excited about this year's complete line-up, listed below.
- The Cowboy Way
- Floyd Beard
- Valerie Beard
- Nona Kelley Carver
- Bill Clark
- Jo Lynne Kirkwood
- Peggy Malone
- Terry Nash
- Duane Nelson
- Dale Page
- Evelyn A. Roper
- Dennis and Bev Russell (The Russellers)
- Caitlyn Taussig
Check the Gathering website for more information on performers and the event: WesternSlopeCowboyGathering.com
Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine Announces Forty Performers for February 2022
Over forty cowboy poets and musicians will perform at the 2022 Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering Feb. 18-19 in Alpine, Texas. Tickets to the Gathering will go on sale this fall. Sign up now for the "Cowboy 9" discount ($9 off your first ticket) and to be notified when tickets go on sale to the general public. Or become a member for early access.
With a mix of ticketed shows and free sessions over two full days, the Gathering offers attendees the chance to hear and meet remarkable singers, writers, and instrumentalists with a cowboy background, while enjoying the beautiful high desert of the Big Bend region. Whether you're interested in hearing spoken word, songs, guitar, banjo, fiddle, bass, or mandolin, you'll find it in the small town of Alpine in February.
Performers announced include:
- Mary Abbott, poet and reciter from western New Mexico;
- Dale Burson, multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and banjo;
- Don Cadden, performing his original poems and songs as well as the classics;
- Bob Campbell, talented singer-songwriter of authentic cowboy songs;
- Craig Carter, Marathon-based rancher, singer, songwriter, and band leader (performing with Zack Casey);
- Allan Chapman and Rodeo Kate, songwriter and fiddler;
- Doug Figgs, singer/songwriter from Lemitar, New Mexico;
- Jack George, 14-year-old reciter of classic cowboy poems;
- Pipp Gillette, performing traditional cowboy music on guitar, banjo, harmonica, and bones;
- Amy Hale, author of novels, nonfiction, and poetry who cowboys on the Spider Ranch in Arizona;
- Kristyn Harris, powerhouse singer, songwriter, yodeler, and swing guitarist;
- Andy Hedges, west Texas songster and host of the Cowboy Crossroads podcast;
- Brenn Hill, singer/songwriter who chronicles the cowboy life from Utah;
- Randy Huston, contemporary singer/songwriter who ranches outside Las Vegas, New Mexico;
- Chris Isaacs, cowboy poet, reciter, author, and humorist from Arizona;
- Jim Jones, singer/songwriter and Western novelist from Rio Rancho, New Mexico;
- Jill Jones and the Jingle Bobs (Bob Goldstein and Zeke Severson), featuring vocals, bass, and guitar;
- Ross Knox, famous cowboy and packer who writes his own poetry and recites the classics;
- Daron Little, writer and singer of contemporary cowboy music;
- Deanna McCall, poet and author who ranches outside Timberon, New Mexico;
- John Moore, outstanding mandolinist, guitarist, vocalist, and equine clinician;
- Glenn Moreland, performing original and traditional cowboy music on guitar and fiddle;
- Andy Nelson, poet, humorist, second-generation farrier, and producer of a weekly radio show from Wyoming;
- Joel Nelson, poet, rancher, and Grammy nominee in the spoken word category;
- Jean and Gary Prescott, singers/songwriters who run a cow/calf operation south of Abilene;
- Vess Quinlan, poet, reciter, and fourth-generation Colorado livestock raiser;
- Brigid and Johnny Reedy, Montana-based brother and sister duo on fiddle and guitar;
- Randy Rieman, horsemanship clinician and noted reciter of cowboy poetry and Australian Bush poetry;
- Jay Snider, poet and reciter who raises ranch horses and cattle in southwest Oklahoma ;
- Dave Stamey, singer/songwriter and balladeer who is a member of the Western Music Hall of Fame;
- Gail Steiger, singer, writer, and foreman of the 50,000 acre Spider Ranch in Arizona;
- Michael Stevens, musician, horseman, and guitar builder, formerly of the Fender Custom Shop in California;
- Rod Taylor, musician and actor, former head of the cowherd for Philmont Ranch;
- Andy Wilkinson, poet and songwriter who is the Artist-in-Residence at Texas Tech University's Southwest Collection; and
- Jim Wilson, singer, guitarist, and former sheriff.
Collectively, these performers have amassed so many awards it's almost impossible to list them all.
Building on the 33-year tradition of the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, the inaugural Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering was held in February of 2020 with an enthusiastic reception from performers, attendees, Alpine residents, and local businesses. The Gathering is a non-profit organization promoting narratives of the cowboy life told in poetry, song, stories, and art by those who have lived it, and is supported by members and other donors.
2021 Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering August 12-14
Prescott's 34th Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering is scheduled for August 12 - 14, 2021 at the Prescott Rodeo Grounds, 840 Rodeo Drive, Prescott, Arizona.
How do you compress the unique sights and sounds of the history and culture of the West into four days? Experience the performances of more than 40 cowboy poets and musicians Thursday through Sunday at this year's Gathering of Arizona's Cowboy Poets. Local cowboy poets and singers will be featured.
Night shows are Thursday-Saturday at 7 PM, with daily sessions Friday from 12 to 5 PM and Saturday 9 AM to 5 PM and Saturday 8 to 9 AM.
Scenic Railroads and Great Music: 2021 Cowboy Train
Two museums, three vintage train rides, and six private concerts over seven nights and eight days: that's the 2021 Cowboy Train, from Roots on the Rails. The tour will travel from Denver to Santa Fe this fall, using buses and historic trains to piece together a railroad/history/art/music adventure.
Departing on Sept. 24 from Denver, the group should see fall colors in the aspens of the Front Range and San Juan mountains. Train rides include the Georgetown Loop Railroad, the Royal Gorge Railroad, and the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad steam train from Antonito, Colorado to Chama, New Mexico. Performers participating include songster Andy Hedges (winner of the 2020 Western Heritage Award for Traditional Western Album for Shadow of a Cowboy), Grammy Award winner Dom Flemons (multi-instrumentalist and songster), western musician Dave Stamey, and Brigid and Johnny Reedy (sister on fiddle, brother on guitar). Private concerts are scheduled for six evenings of the trip. After two final days exploring Santa Fe, Taos, and the surrounding area, the tour concludes on Oct. 1 with a shuttle to the Albuquerque airport.