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"The Cal Farley's Boys Ranch Youth Cowboy Poetry Gathering, in my opinion, is an important event and fertile ground for planting the seeds of the cowboy way (the history, heritage, life, etc.) and letting them grow.  This cowboy way that Buck revered so much -- the caring, trust, integrity among his tribe needs to be passed on to the children.  My dream is to see young people from all over the country and other countries, for that matter, come to the youth gathering to learn from the masters.  This is the best venue I've seen to make that happen."   Bette Ramsey

Few events were talked about with so much enthusiasm as the first annual Cal Farley's Boys Ranch Youth Cowboy Poetry Gathering held in June, 2002.  Participants and audiences praised the experience and we're pleased to bring you, below, a report on the first gathering and information about subsequent gatherings.

See reports elsewhere at CowboyPoetry.com from:

the 2003 event here

the 2005 event here

the 2007 event here



For all of the latest news about the gathering, visit the Cal Farley's Boys Ranch Youth Cowboy Poetry Gathering web site.



Each year, the gathering awards a Cowboy Poet Award. See our feature on the Cal Farley Cowboy Poet Award.  


Send a young poet to the Youth Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Texas!  Cal Farley's Boys Ranch invites gatherings, schools, and communities to sponsor young poets' travel to the Youth Gathering to enjoy learning from, and performing with, some of the best in the business.  All activities, seminars and admissions at the gathering are free to youth. For more information, contact Darci Johnson, darcijohnson@calfarley.org  800-687-3722 extension 635



About Cal Farley's Boys Ranch & Affiliates:

"Each year, the Cal Farley organization serves more than 1000 children and families either in residence or through other outreach services. Today, more than 390 at-risk boys and girls from Texas and 22 other states are finding hope for a brighter future."  Read more at their web site.


Cal Farley's Boys Ranch Youth Cowboy Poetry Gathering


The First Annual Gathering, June 2002

The poster painting, Yellow Work Gloves, is by Don Dane

Children and adults from as far away as New Jersey and California traveled to Cal Farley's Boys Ranch to participate in the first-ever Youth Cowboy Poetry Gathering in June 2002.

The four-day event featured such well-known poets and musicians as Red Steagall, Don Edwards, Sons of the San Joaquin, Waddie Mitchell, Larry McWhorter and R.W. Hampton. Dedicated to Buck Ramsey, the event opened with Boys Ranch poet Robin Brown's stirring recitation of Buck's classic poem, Anthem.

Bette Ramsey, wife of the late poet, was instrumental in the event's success and unfailing in her support. In
Andy Wilkinson's article covering the event in Persimmon Hill, Bette noted that it was "one of the best examples of passing on the traditions and the heritage of the cowboy culture."

The Gathering is a one-of-a-kind event. Its primary purpose is to offer young people an opportunity to learn western folklore, cowboy values and the history and culture of the Old West, and to help keep the cowboy storytelling tradition alive.

"The only way to keep a tradition is to get youth involved in it," Mr. Mitchell said. "The American cowboy, the American West and the pioneer spirit are the most recognized aspect of America worldwide, yet in America for a few years it looked like it was going to find its way into obscurity."

Featured guests and experienced professionals mentored youth during open poetry and music sessions, as well as a variety of creative writing, performing, sculpting, drawing and rawhide braiding seminars.

Oscar performs a poem during the evening headliner show
featuring Red Steagall

Mr. Steagall believes we can preserve the images of the West and the images of the American Cowboy through mentoring today's youth. "We retell the story of the cowboy and the story of the West because we want to save the sense of values that people who work the land seem to have," he said. "We still believe that the values of honesty, integrity, loyalty, conviction about your belief in God and dedication to your family -- all those things are still important, regardless of how fast-paced the world is."

Stephanie Davis, left, discusses songwriting with two Youth
Cowboy Poetry Gathering participants.

Boys and girls chose from seminars by Mr. Mitchell and Oklahoma poet and singer Chuck Milner, a writing seminar taught by Andy Wilkinson and Stephanie Davis, and a variety of workshops and demonstrations by artists Rick Jackson, Wendy Liddle, Don Dane and others.

Abby, left, speaks with cartoonist Wendy Liddle on tips for
creating a good cartoon character.

"It was fun," said Maria, a fourteen-year-old Boys Ranch resident. "They were very encouraging, and when I cried doing my poem, they still helped me get through it, and they said I did a good job and they helped me correct it. I really want to do this again next year."

Steagall, Hampton and McWhorter also emceed youth open-mike sessions for the young participants interested in performing poetry and music. The youth competed for prizes and the opportunity to perform their selections during the evening headliner shows.

Robert, 14, another Boys Ranch resident, performed during the Friday night performance. "I liked it," he said, "but I was really nervous. It helped me to not be so nervous in front of a big crowd."

Instructor Terry Pershbacher teaches boys and girls the art
of leather tooling.

The activities were free to youth participants. And while the Gathering was geared for young folks, there was plenty to keep adults occupied, including a western arts and trade show, a chuck wagon lunch featuring R.W. Hampton, a trail ride, tours of Boys Ranch and opportunities for adults to perform their poetry and music.

"I came out here to the most organized, well-thought out, best reception of any festival I've ever been to in its first year," Mr. Mitchell said. "I'm going away from here with a renewed vision of what can happen."

Andy Wilkinson, poet, singer, song writer and playwright, wrote, "Buck would have been pleased. Goodnight might have softened his outlook on Tascosa. And a fine group of youngsters are looking forward to next year."

The second Youth Cowboy Poetry Gathering, June 2003

The Storyteller by Don Dane

Darci Johnson. the Manager for Tourism and Special Events at Cal Farley's Boys Ranch & Affiliates and the moving force behind the gathering shared an image of the 2003 poster by acclaimed artist Don Dane.  Darci tells that it was inspired by a photo from the 2002 event and it has "Dale Burson and our kids in it. That's even my saddle in the picture."

Following was the information about the 2003 event, from the Cal Farley's Boys Ranch Gathering organizers:

Gather your youngsters and join us for the second Youth Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Cal Farley's Boys Ranch, near Amarillo, Texas.
The event kicks off Thursday, June 12, 2003 with an evening performance featuring Don Edwards, Waddie Mitchell and
Andy Wilkinson. Activities will continue throughout the weekend with Friday and Saturday night performances, continual afternoon entertainment, youth seminars, a western arts and trade show, and celebrity sortin' following an authentic cattle drive. Chapel services on Sunday, June 15 will conclude the Gathering.

Each of the featured performers in last year's all-star lineup are scheduled to return, with additions such as Jeff Gore, Trudy Fair, J.W. Beeson, Donnie Blanz and others who will be leading seminars or performing on the outdoor stage Friday and Saturday afternoons. Lunch and dinner will be available at the chuck wagons and food vendors set up in the outdoor stage area.

Youth art seminars will again be offered by cowboy cartoonist Wendy Liddle, sculptor Rick Jackson and artist Don Dane, just to name a few of the returning favorites. New seminars include  youth saddle-making, conducted by legendary saddle maker Bob Marrs and J.W. Beeson, songwriting by Donnie Blanz, and open chuck wagon cooking and fiddling seminars.

Favorites such as Red Steagall, The Burson Family, R.W. Hampton, Chuck Milner, Stephanie Davis, J.B. Allen and the Sons of the San Joaquin will be on hand to mentor boys and girls, as well as entertain young and old alike.

Registration for youth seminars and ticket sales will open April 1, 2003. For more information, please visit our
Cal Farley's Boys Ranch Youth Cowboy Poetry Gathering web site or contact Darci Johnson 800-687-3722 x635.  


See Lloyd Shelby's report about the 2003 event here.

See Yvonne Hollenbeck's report on the 2005 event here.

See a report on the 2007 event here.







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