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The Academy of Western Artists' Seventh Annual Will Rogers Awards for Outstanding Achievement of Contemporary Cowboy Skills in Fort Worth, July 9, 2002,were a great success. The show was flawlessly produced, and included top entertainment and an impressive display of Cowboy artists' work, from spur makers to saddle makers.  

Among the highlights:

The over 140 BAR-D poets in The Big Roundup won the Buck Ramsey Award for Cowboy Poetry Book of the Year! 

Photo by Mike PuhalloThe award was presented by R. W. Hampton and accepted by editor and CowboyPoetry.com managing editor Margo Metegrano, on behalf of all the poets.  Some of the contributing poets were in attendance:  Featured Guest Red Steagall, Honored Guests Debra Coppinger Hill (named Best Female Poet),  Dennis Gaines, and Mike Puhallo; old pards Tim Graham, Scott Bumgardner, and Jerry "Jake" White; past Lariat Laureate Jay Snider, and Lariat Laureate runners up Linda Kirkpatrick and Lloyd Shelby. Also in attendance was friend of the BAR-D, nominee for best DJ, Jo Hargave, whose Keepin' it Cowboy radio show celebrates the Cowboy Way and brings the best in poetry and music to her audience.  Also at the shwo were: Honored Guest and Best Male Poet nominee Ray Owens and his wife Verna; Honored Guest and Best Female Poet nominee Ann Sochat, and Special Music Guest Kerry Grombacher were also at the show.

Mvc-016s.jpg (16497 bytes) Honored Guest and best BAR-D pal Debra Coppinger Hill was named Best Female Poet and gave a moving and  eloquent speech honoring her grandfather and her family traditions.

  Honored Guest Chris Isaacs -- the "Cowboys' Favorite Cowboy Poet" -- won the Cowboy Poetry Album of the Year Award for his great Out With the Crew CD.

Mvc-018s.jpg (10064 bytes)  And in a special moment not on the program, Honored Guest Dennis Gaines, past winner and nominee for Best Storyteller/Humorist, made a romantic marriage proposal from the stage to the lovely Karen Chesky.

Photo courtesy of Mike Puhallo

The previously-awarded Will Rogers Medallion Award was presented to the winners of the five honored books, pictured above from left to right, Mike Puhallo, Dennis Flynn (accepting for Chris Isaacs) Red Steagall, Margo Metegrano, and Lloyd Shelby.  At the far left is Charles Williams, poet and Executive Vice President of the Academy of Western Artists.

A great party at Big Balls of Cowtown in the Stockyards area followed the event, where the band Cowjazz entertained all night long, with many of the evening's award-winning musicians joining in.

In the wee hours, Jay Snider, Debra Coppinger Hill, Lloyd Shelby, and Mike Puhallo took their turns on stage with recitations of some of their best poetry.

Mark Lowry wrote a nice Fort Worth Star-Telegram article about the event, and there was another article in the Dallas Morning News (articles don't stay posted there). 


The complete list of winners

More about the Academy of Western Artists

More about the 2002 Awards show and more photos

The 2003 Awards show and Convention (separate page)

2002 Winners

Cowboy Poetry:
Male poet - Joel Nelson
Female poet - Debra C. Hill
Humorist/storyteller - Kent Rollins
Poetry Book of the Year - Margo Metegrano, The Big Roundup
Cowboy Poetry Album of the Year - Chris Isaacs, Out With the Crew

Western Music:
Female vocalist - Eli Barsi
Male vocalist - R.W. Hampton
Duo or group - Lone Star Chorale
Yodeler - Kacey Musgraves
Song of the Year - Joni Harms, Every Cowgirl's Dream
Album of the Year - Jean Prescott, Tapestry of the West

Western Swing:
Female vocalist - Robin Deeter
Male vocalist - Curtis Potter
Instrumentalist - Floyd Domino
Duo or Group - Time Jumpers
Song of the Year - Dugg Collins, Each Time I Hear That Song
Album of the Year - Tom Morrell, Jugglin' Cats

Additional awards:
Entertainer of the Year - Joni Harms
Rising Star - Jake Hooker
Radio station - KNTX in Bowie
Disc jockey - Orin Friesen, KFDI in Wichita, Kan.
The first Don King Award for Artist Recognition - Don King

Chuckwagon - Jerry Slaton
Hitching and braiding - Toni Schutte
Bits and spurs - Bill Adamson
Engraver - Johny Wyerts
Western artist - Bill Owen
Cartoonist - Bonnie Shields
Saddlemaker - Bill Maloy

The Academy of Western Artists

The Academy of Western Artists is "A dedicated group formed to recognize and honor outstanding individuals who, through their accomplishments, preserve and perpetuate the traditions, values, and heritage of the American Cowboy."

Three of the people who make things happen at the AWA are the Executive Director, Publisher of Rope Burns, and man-who-knows-everyone Bobby Newton; Charles Williams, Executive Vice President, poet, scholar, and the force behind many programs;  and Sandra Herl, who maintains the AWA web site, manages members, recruits talent and advertising for the Awards Show and annual convention, and gets the word out.  There are many more people behind the scenes, but these three are the heart of the organization.

Bobby Newton, AWA Director
Photo by Lloyd Shelby

Visit the web site and consider becoming a member. Even non-members can subscribe to Rope Burns, the source for the Cowboy Entertainment and Trade Industry (and home to a regular Cowboy Poetry column from CowboyPoetry.com.


More About the Show and More Photos

The Awards Show show is always great showcasing the best in Western talent.  The 2002 program book is equally impressive, with a cover drawing of Will Rogers by notable Western artist, Tim Cox, winner of the 2001 Will Rogers Award for fine art.

The program is illustrated throughout by some of the top Western artists and cartoonists, and pages are devoted to each category and include a description a list of the top ten nominees for each award.

Stars among the exciting musical entertainment throughout the evening were Ginny Mac, Jake Hooker, Jill Jones, Kevin Davis, Cowjazz, and Dave Alexander & Legends of Western Swing.  Hilarious Cowboy Poet Les Buffham brought down the house with his performance.

A video of the show is available for $20 postpaid from:  American Community Cable, 401 W. 2nd, Fort Worth, TX 76102



Thanks to three Best Book nominees for the photos below and for those forthcoming. Honored Guest Mike Puhallo, Lariat Laureate runner up Linda Kirkpatrick (and her friend Kathy Suttle), and Lariat Laureate runner up Lloyd Shelby (and his friend Judy Hadaway) shared the photos below. Mike Puhallo has more to come, and there are more from Lloyd Shelby.


  Mike Puhallo at the music conference. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

Debra Coppinger Hill at the music conference. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

Devon Dawson and the Texas Trailhands at the music conference (with Hoot Al, Rodeo Kate, Chuckwagon Chuck, and Roncho Ron).  Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  Lloyd Shelby, Buck Taylor, and Chuck Beggs at the music conference. Photo by Judy Hadaway


  Lloyd Shelby and Red Steagall at the music conference the day before the Awards Show, Photo by Judy Hadaway

  Lloyd Shelby, Jo Hargave, and Jay Snider before the Awards show. Photo by Judy Hadaway

  Ann Sochat before the show. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  Margo Metegrano, Linda Kirkpatrick, and Lloyd Shelby before the show.   Photo by Kathy Suttle 

  Ginny Mac opened the show. 
Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  Charles Williams, AWA Executive Vice President, poet, and more, is the force behind the show. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  Trudy Fair was a presenter, and she received a special award in for having been the show's emcee for the past five years. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  Mike Puhallo accepted the Best Female Western Musician award for friend Eli Barsi. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  Debra Coppinger Hill accepted the Best Female Poet award (Joel Nelson, presenter, in background).  Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  Dennis Gaines made an unscheduled appearance. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  He made a romantic marriage proposal from the stage to the lovely Karen Chesky. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  She accepted! 
Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  Joel Nelson received the Best Male Poet Award. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

Buck Taylor presented Bill Owen with the Best Western Artist Award. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  Jill Jones and the Lone Star Chorale were the winners of the Best Western Music Group. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  Jake Hooker received the Rising Star Award. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  Popular DJ Jo Hargave was presented the Entertainer of the Year award. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  Joni Harms accepted the Entertainer of the Year Award.

Cowboy Poet Les Buffham brought down the house with his performance. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

   The image in the background behind Les Buffham is of the Will Rogers Award statue, designed by celebrated sculptor J. B. Taylor.  Photo by Mike Puhallo 

  Larry McWhorter was the evening's most humorous presenter. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  Bonnie Shields accepted the award for Best Cartoonist. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

Actor Dean Smith was a presenter. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  J. J. Bleu of KNTX in Bowie accepted the Best Radio Station award. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  R. W. Hampton had some help when he picked up the award for Best Western Music Male Vocalist. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

Curtis Potter accepted the best Male vocalist award. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  Margo Metegrano presented the Best Humorist/Storyteller Award; Kent Rollins was the winner. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  Debra Evans Price, editor of Billboard Magazine, was a presenter. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

Don King received the The first Don King Award for Artist Recognition.  Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  Jean Prescott's Tapesty of the West was awarded the Best Album of the Year award. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

   Orin Freisen accepted the best Disk Jockey award. Photo by Lloyd Shelby 

  After the show, Debra Coppinger Hill and Linda Kirkpatrick. Photo by Kathy Suttle

At the Big Balls of Cowtown party, Lloyd Shelby, Joe Wells, and Linda Kirkpatrick.  Joe and Linda perform together in Cowboy Sunset Serenade. Photo by Kathy Suttle



Honored Guest Debra Coppinger Hill, winner of the Best Female Poet Award, shared her great award photo:








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