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Cowboy Poets of Utah honor Colen Sweeten


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April, 2006
Cowboy Poets of Utah honor Colen Sweeten   Payson, Utah

The Cowboy Poets of Utah had announced a "Tribute to Cowboy Poetry Week" on April 22, 2006, with dinner and a program, in Payson, Utah. The official Cowboy Poets of Utah web site announced "We're having a Cowboy Poetry / Western Music Get-together Saturday, April 22 at 5 pm at Mi Rancherito's (85 E. Utah Ave.) in Payson. Come enjoy food, friends and have a Cowboy Poetry Week Jam Session."  

The heart of that event was a surprise: the honoring of poet Colen Sweeten, an idea conceived by Jerry ("Brooksie") Brooks and acted on by the many Cowboy Poets of Utah members and many friends of Colen Sweeten.

  photos and report by Jo Lynne Kirkwood  


Colen Sweeten has probably already won just about every award given to cowboy poets in Utah or Idaho.  Family members collected a few of his more significant plaques, as well as some photos and copies of his book, for a display table at the restaurant.  Also on display was a collection of Colen's woodcarvings.

As guests entered the banquet room, each signed their name to a copy of the Cowboy Poetry Week poster featuring a painting by Joelle Smith and created by CowboyPoetry.com.  Here we've caught Phil Kennington as he adds his signature.  The poster was presented to Colen later in the evening.

The room was filled with friends and well-wishers there to celebrate Cowboy Poetry week, and Colen Sweeten. This is a photo of cowboy poet and musician, Marion Manwill, and wife Vi.

As Colen first came in we sang "For he's a jolly good fellow." Here's Colen as he first came into the room... that's "Semi" Colen with him - Colen III.

About a dozen members of Colen's personal family were in attendance. Here is Ruthie, Colen's wife of over fifty years, and daughter Irene.

The band, STAMPEDE!  Terri Taylor, center, is a member of the board of directors for CPU, and husband Steve Taylor, on her left, is president of the Western Music Association.  Left, band member David Anderson.

Colen with poet, musician and friend Kenny Hall.

Executive Committee for CPU.  Don Kennington, Board of Directors;  Val Carter, Vice President; Terri Taylor, Board of Directors; Rod Miller, Treasurer;  Sam DeLeeuw, President;  Jerry ("Brooksie") Brooks, South Central Rep and organizer for the event; Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Secretary; Colen Sweeten, Utah's elder statesman of cowboy poetry.

Colen, sharing the award with the group. The text reads:

Cowboy Poets of Utah
Pioneer Heritage Award
Presented to
Colen Sweeten
for living the life,
dreaming the dreams
and telling the stories of Utah's pioneer cowboys
April 22, 2006

Sam DeLeeuw and Dave Anderson, sharing a song they've written together.

Colen could have provided all the entertainment for the evening; he kept us rolling in the aisles. One of the highlights was a viewing of the tape from Colen's appearance on Johnny Carson in the early 90's. This was thoughtfully provided by Colen's daughter, and is hilarious!

Lots of guest from near and far. Here is Bimbo Cheney, with Brooksie and Colen, who came over from Elko. Other friends sent greeting either in letter or recorded form. Some of these long-distance contributions were:

Doris Daley sent a message via email, as did Margo Metegrano.

Stephanie Davis sent a CD reminding Colen of their escapades last summer at the Roundup in Sevier County. If there's anyone out there who hasn't heard that story, be sure to ask Colen, Stephanie, or ANY of the Utah poets. LOTS of fun!

Baxter Black sent a recorded greeting...

The Idaho poets got together and made a group message - at least two dozen individual wishes, I'd guess...

And there were many more.
Rod Miller unearthed some ANCIENT work Colen had done to preserve the burial site for the Shoshone at Bear River (the massacre) and Brooksie had photos and memories from Colen's long-ago visits to Elko (his most recent was last year). Michael Martin Murphey sent a two page, sincere greeting and many many members who were in attendance shared thoughts, music, poems, and hugs.

Brooksie delivers a hug—from everyone—to Colen.


Members of the Cowboy Poets of Utah met with Governor Huntsman when he signed the Cowboy Poetry Week proclamation on April 7, 2006.  Read more here.

(Photo courtesy of the Utah Governor's office; see additional photos posted on that site, here.)

 Phil Kennington, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Terri Taylor, Karen Kern, Sam DeLeeuw, Paul Kern, Steve Taylor, Rod Miller, Val Carter, and Curly Syndergaard with Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.





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