Cowboy Poetry and Western Life

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Gathering Reports


Cedar City Cowboy Gathering (Utah) March

Reports from:

 Jo Lynne Kirkwood 

Smoke Wade

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March, 2005
Cedar City Cowboy Gathering   Cedar City, Utah



Report and photos by Smoke Wade 

9th Annual Cedar City Cowboy Gathering

It is often rumored that a raging blizzard can not keep cowboy poets from gathering, and gather they did on March16-19, 2006 in Cedar City, Utah, during a late winter snowstorm at the Sharwan Smith Student Center on the campus of the Southern Utah University.

The event got under way on Thursday night with a well-attended cowboy jam session at the Garden House Restaurant in Cedar City.

On Friday morning, the day sessions ran from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. with four different venues running at the same time. Cedar City is noted for providing theme sessions for poetry, which adds to the excitement of the gathering. With plenty of open mike time on Friday, there was opportunity for late arrivals to have a chance to perform. After the day sessions were
completed, a country-dance took place in the Sharwin Smith Thunderbird Lounge featuring a local band, Most Wanted.

The Cowboy Poets of Utah, Inc.
held a meeting early Saturday morning followed by day sessions from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Capacity audiences attended all sessions. The audience roamed from room to room, pausing to watch working displays or perhaps browse at one of the twenty-eight vendor booths available. Outside, Denny Condi, Utah, presented a sheep shearing demonstration while inside, young people were kept busy in the Kid's Corral where they were able to learn more about cowboy life.

With over 60 poets and musicians from nine western states participating, it is not possible to list all that performed, yet there were several highlighted events and performances. A special youth hour at high noon, Saturday, featured young poets from around Utah. Many have performed at other gatherings as well, and these lil' cowpokes are becoming well polished with their presentations. Sixth grader, Curtis Probert, Utah, has performed at the Sevier County Fair as well as Kanab, Utah, and his poetry rivals the old hands'.

The featured musicians included the Red Rock Wranglers, Wyoming Red, the Bar G Wranglers, Saddle Strings, Western Shadows, Coyote Moon and Stampede! among others. Always a crowd favorite, Stampede! dazzled the audience with their blend of humor by bass player, Steve Taylor, cowboy songs by David Anderson, and yodeling by lead vocalist, Terri Taylor. Terri has received the WMA 2005, Song of the Year Award, as well as being an AWA award winning yodeler.

Stampede! (Steve Taylor, Terri Taylor, and David Anderson)

Coyote Moon

Wyoming Red

Outstanding poetry was presented through out the weekend by reciter,
Jerry "Brooksie" Brooks, Utah. Brooksie has a way of bringing to life unique classic poetry in a way few can match.


One of the highlighted events took place in the Starlight Room. With floor to ceiling windows behind the stage, the poets had a backdrop of a raging late winter snowstorm that brought out poems and talk of moving cows in just such weather. Bimbo Cheney, Nevada, and Doug Keller, Utah, delighted the audience with their poems of "Rides, Wrecks and Rodeos," while Phil Kennington, Val Carter and Jo Lynne Kirkwood, all of Utah, told "Tall in the Saddle Tales." Yula Sue Hunting told of days on the Arizona Strip while Byrd Woodward, Arizona, told of old ranch days in Idaho.

Bimbo Cheney

Byrd Woodward

Doug Keller

The Headliner Concert got under way at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night. After a warm welcome by event director, Curly Syndergaard, Utah, the show was turned over to emcee, Andy Nelson, Wyoming. Andy is always a delight to listen to,
and his stage humor is unequaled. The featured poets for the evening show were Katie McCall-Owen, Idaho and
Mike Dunn, Arizona. Mike has received the AWA Will Rogers Medallion Award for his book of poetry, "Somewhere Between
Earth and Heaven." Katie has performed in Elko as a featured poet.

Andy Nelson and Steve Taylor

Mike Dunn

The headliners for the Saturday night show were R. W. Hampton and Belinda Gail, two of the most well known names in western entertainment. Both have earned numerous awards from the AWA and the WMA.

R. W. Hampton is the "real deal" when it comes to singing cowboy songs. His rich baritone voice compliments his cowboy life style, and his songs ring true of the western way of life. One can close their eyes and be carried away to the rangeland that R. W. sings about.

R. W. Hampton

Belinda Gail's performance was absolutely "electric!" Her energetic performance delighted the audience including a standing ovation for an a cappella presentation of "America the Beautiful." Belinda truly is "America's Western Sweetheart."

Belinda Gail

After the standing-room-only Headliner Show, the musicians and poets gathered again for a late night jam session at the Garden House Restaurant.

Jam Session (Stampede! and Andy Nelson)

Curly Syndergaard hosted a Cowboy Church at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday morning at the Cedar Livestock Market. A capacity crowd was treated to performances by Belinda Gail; R.W. Hampton; Lisa Stubblefield and Steve Lewis of Coyote
; Francis Wheeler, Colorado; Barbara Hall, Utah; Yula Sue Hunting, Utah; The Red Rock Wranglers; Ray Taylor, Utah; Katie McCall-Owens and family; the Bar G Wranglers;
Smoke Wade, Idaho; Bimbo Cheney; and Mitch Schoppman, Utah. Another delightful a cappella performance was given by Belinda Gail when she sang
"Amazing Grace."

Mike Prince and Barbara Hall

Jim Dunham

Paul Bliss

Ray Taylor

When event director Curly Syndergaard was asked what makes the Cedar City Cowboy Gathering rated a "Top Ten Must See Western Event" by True West magazine, Curly answered, "It is the people." And, all of the people involved once again said good-bye, promising to gather again, for friendship, poetry and music some where along the cowboy trail.

Curly and Cheryl Syndergaard

March, 2005
Cedar City Cowboy Gathering   Cedar City, Utah

Report and photos from Cowboy Poets of Utah Secretary Jo Lynne Kirkwood

The Cedar City Cowboy Gathering (previously Canyon Country Western Arts Festival) was held again over St. Patrick's Day weekend, and as usual it was a great festival and a whole lot of fun. Things got going Thursday night with a jam session at the Garden Restaurant, and we were in time to visit with friends Brooksie, Woody and Byrd Woodward, Belinda Gail, Saddle Strings, Kenny Hall, and many others. Saturday sessions ran from 10:00 through the early evening hours, and joining the festivities were Wyoming's Andy Nelson, Jim Dunham and Mike Dunn from Arizona, Bimbo Cheney, Katie McCall-Owens, Barbara Hall, Fred Engel, Francis Wheeler, Yula Sue Hunting, Val Carter, Stampede!, new Cowboy Poets of Utah member Laurie Tye, Red Rock Wranglers, Marion Manwill and Gordon Thomas, and The Peteetneet Creek Ranch Hands, and most certainly several I've left out. Performances continued through the evening, until a dance that night at 9:00 pm.  The band was a local favorite group, Most Wanted.

photo from Moab's Western Stars, February 2006
Jerry Brooks (Brooksie) and Barbara Hall

Saturday started with a CPU meeting in the Starlight Room, with Curly Syndergaard (CCCG Festival Director) in official capacity as CPU board chairman for the first time since his election to the post. Bill Gubler came down for Saturday, as did Phil Kennington, and Smoke Wade, and the day sessions began at 10:00.

Crowds were larger on Saturday, and audiences seemed appreciative and happy to be out of the storm that visited Cedar City. As the snow deepened, some of the out-of-towners began to worry about the journey home, but gradually the storm lessened and roads cleared. The Saturday Night Show was excellent, and featured RW Hampton and
Belinda Gail, with poets Mike Dunn and Katie McCall-Owen.

Yula Sue Hunting, who spent a lifetime cowboying on the Arizona Strip, and
Cheryl Syndergaard, festival Director of Poetry

Cedar City always seems to put on the best Cowboy Church, and the event is never finished until after services at the local stock barn on Sunday morning.  Anyone who would like to participate is invited to sign up during the day Friday or Saturday, and by time for church comes around the schedule is always full.  It's a great way to end the gathering, and sends everyone home counting their blessings and friends.


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