Cedar City (Utah) March
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10th Annual Cedar City Cowboy Gathering Cedar City, Utah
Report and photos by Smoke Wade
10th Annual Cedar City Cowboy Gathering
Cowboy poets and musicians gathered on March 15 –18, 2007 in Cedar City, Utah, for the 10th Annual Cedar City Cowboy Gathering. The event took place at the Sharwan Smith Student Center on the campus of the Southern Utah University.
The gathering got started on Thursday evening with a cowboy jam session at Bard’s Restaurant in the Crystal Inn. The social event was a chance for folks to renew old friendships and for them to make new friends as well.
On Friday, the day sessions ran from 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with three 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. While poets presented their art at two separate venues, the musicians kept folk’s toes-a-tappin’ in the vendor and art show room. Many noted poets presented exceptional poetry. Jerry "Brooksie" Brooks, Utah, 2006 AWA Female Poet of the year, was flawless with her recitation of Buck Ramsey’s "Anthem." Walt "Bimbo" Cheney, Nevada, shared his exceptional poetry skills. Cheney has often been an invited poet at the 2007 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko. And veteran poet, Barbara Hall, delighted the audiences with her favorite poems.
The Friday night show featured funny poet, Phil Kennington; youth poet, Kate Murdock; and 11 year-old Alyssa Allan, all of Utah. Allan won the Silver Buckle in the Recitor/Humorous division at the 2006 Cowboy Poetry Rodeo held in Kanab, Utah.
The headline act for the show was the musical trio, STAMPEDE!, of Utah. Band member Steve Taylor is President of the Western Music Association. David Anderson is perhaps one of the most progressive songwriters in the state of Utah. Award winning yodeler and songwriter, Terri Taylor, is also known as the "Epiglottis" Goddess. As a group, they presented an exception show much to the delight of a near capacity audience.
After the Friday night show, cowboys and cowgirls danced the night away at the Crystal Inn to the wonderful dance music of Saddle Strings. Lead vocalist, Brian Arnold was a pleasure to listen to and his energy kept the dance floor packed all night long.
The Cowboy Poets of Utah, Inc. held a meeting early Saturday morning followed by day sessions from 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Capacity audiences attended all sessions. The spectators roamed from room to room, pausing to watch working displays or perhaps browse at one of the many 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 eight western states participating, it is not possible to list all that performed, yet there were several highlighted events and performances. The special youth hour at high noon 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. The featured musicians included Saddle Strings, Western Shadows, STAMPEDE!, Latigo, and Sons of the Rio Grande.
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 got under way with superb poetry presented by Sam DeLeeuw and Don Kennington. Both had a way of connecting with the audience. Both had the ability to make the crowd roll with laughter one moment and in the next, many folks began to wipe a tear from their eye.
The Headliners for the Saturday night show were the Bar J Wranglers from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. As a group, they performed a non-stop barrage of humor, music and poetry that brought out a standing ovation and an encore performance. The Bar J Wranglers presented a first class old time cowboy performance, and they should be considered as one of the top western acts in today’s venues.
After the evening show, many performers and fans gathered at the Crystal Inn for a jam session that ran into the wee hours of the morning.
Curly Syndergaard hosted a well-attended Cowboy Church at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday morning at the Cedar Livestock Market. Following the church, the cowboy poets and musicians once again said their good-byes—teary eyed, yet happy to have renewed old acquaintances, and, once again they vowed to meet again—somewhere along the cowboy poetry trail.
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