Featured at the Bar-D Ranch

This is an additional page of coverage of the Western Folklife Center's 24th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

See page 1 here, which includes an index of pages.


Visit the Western Folklife Center web site for archived webcasts of events,  audio and video coverage, and more.



  report and photos by Jo Lynne Kirkwood


Report on the Elko Gathering

The 24th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering blustered in with gale force winds this year. We got to town on Thursday afternoon, to share stories with friends of snowy roads, closed highways, and rumors of stray late-comers still heading in on white-knuckle freeways. But amazingly the venues were still packed full with party-ready guests eager to listen to incredible poetry and the very best in cowboy music.

Jana Cheney and sister Karen, Bimbo Cheney, Mike Kirkwood

We caught up with our hosts Bimbo and Jana Cheney, then connected for dinner with Tom and Linda Whitaker, in town to scout out talent for Utah’s hugely popular Heber City Cowboy Poetry Gathering in November, and finally headed over to the Folklife Center.

Tom and Linda Whitaker, Mike Kirkwood

Right away we ran into friends Margo Metegrano from CowboyPoetry.com; Linda Kirkpatrick, featured at the gathering this year; and poet Rod Miller.


Rod Miller and Andy Nelson

We were in time, Thursday, to make the evening performance at the Folklife Center featuring Andy Nelson, DW Groethe, Yvonne Hollenbeck and Juni Fisher. It was an excellent show, with Andy, Yvonne and DW all up to their usual humorous antics leavened occasionally by a bit of pure western common sense, but the highlight for me was a special guest appearance by Patty Clayton, who joined Juni with exquisite harmony on Juni’s song, "The Same River."

Friday morning arrived with a good eight inches of new snow, but the parking lot at the Convention Center was full of cars and the halls were crowded with people. Enthusiasm was if anything higher than ever this year, in spite of the storm. We managed to get in to a couple of early shows, and thoroughly enjoyed Pat Richardson’s unabashed wit and brazen comedy.

Yvonne Hollenbeck, Pat Richardson, Jo Lynne Kirkwood

Rod Nelson was in fine form, and Doris Daley and Randy Rieman are always worth hearing. The best part of the day, however, was the 1:30 concert in the Convention Center auditorium, where we were lucky enough to find seats near the front for Don Edwards' presentation of "The Ghost of Jack Thorp." Don kept us enthralled for an hour and a half, and we would have happily stayed longer to hear more.

Don Edwards

The musicians, who traditionally have performed at the Jr. High auxiliary building near the Convention Center, this year took the stage at Elko Grammar School #2, a short bus ride away. Once there I was fortunate enough to meet poet Diane Tribitt, a first time performer in Elko this year, and to chat briefly with Aussie friend, poet Milton Taylor. Joni Harms performed at 2:30, followed by the delightful Quebe Sisters Band. Colorado’s Sons and Brothers were up next, then DW Groethe, Glenn Ohrlin, Bob Petermann and Red Steagall all kept the audience thoroughly entertained until the doors closed just after five PM. The snow was falling hard, but everyone remained cheerful as we waited for the bus to make its rounds and haul what had been a packed house back to the Convention Center.

Friday night offered a huge selection of concerts to choose from, including the Gillette Brothers, Stephanie Davis, and Tom Russell—all of whom are personal favorites. There was also a dance at the Convention Center, termed the "Buckaroo Baile" with Banda Orquestra Hermanos Rivera, but Michael and I had dinner with friends, and managed to find several impromptu events with folks like Fiddlin’ Pete and Utah’s Saddle Strings.

“Fiddlin’” Pete, Bud, Kurt and Brian (Saddle Strings)

We ended the evening upstairs at Stockman’s, the traditional site of jams at the gathering, and joined a circle with Ross Knox, Jesse Smith, Dave McCall, and several other self-proclaimed liars, and managed to waste time in the best possible way telling stories and laughing at other folks’ indiscretions until we finally succumbed to exhaustion and headed home to our host, poet Bimbo Cheney’s house, in the wee hours of the morning.

On Saturday we watched the weather forecast and came to the painful conclusion that we were going to have to head out sooner than we’d wanted to, since we had obligations we just couldn’t avoid in Sevier County on Monday—but we couldn’t leave without stopping in to hear John Dofflemyer and Vess Quinlan, who were among the most insightful and concise of the poets at this year’s gathering—or anywhere else, for that matter. Had a chance to say goodbye to a few good friends then got on the highway. We arrived home late, but I called Brooksie (featured at the gathering) on Sunday morning, and she said the winds were high and the snow deep in Elko, and most folks were holing up in town until Monday before braving the journey out.

The 24th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering was, as always, an event well worth attending. Plans are already underway for 2009, which will be the Gathering’s twenty-fifth year. The Silver Anniversary promises to be a spectacular event featuring many poets from the “old” days of the gathering. You won’t want to miss this one!


More about the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering 
posted here at the BAR-D



With special thanks to Archivist Steve Green of Western Folklife Center, in a feature celebrating the 20th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, we have program information that includes program covers, information and lists of invited performers for each year's Gathering.  

Other features in that section include:

  • recollections from the performers and from the audience about their "first time" at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

  • poems celebrating the Gathering

We also maintain an index of all of the invited performers to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, since its inception in 1985.  





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