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The Western Folklife Center's 31st Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering takes place January 26-31, 2015 at Elko, Nevada.

News

 

   Apply for the Western Folklife Center's 32nd annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering by March 31, 2015. The event takes place January 25-30, 2016. Find information here.

 

  Some recent items:

2015 Deep West Videos, from the Western Folklife Center YouTube Channel

"Trip to annual cowboy poetry event another success," by Rodney Nelson, Farm and Ranch Guide, February 19, 2015

"Baja rancheros shine at the NCPG," by Maddy Butcher, Nickernews.net, February 5, 2015

"Cowboy Poetry Gathering," by Linda Hasselstrom (blog), February 10, 2015
 


 

  An excellent article about cowboy arts and culture in general and the National Cowboy Gathering specifically:

 "Cowboy Culture, Alive and Well," by Andy Rieber, The Wall Street Journal, February 10, 2015

 


 

  Some recent items:

"Cowboys take to prose to celebrate 'Woodstock' of the West," Malay Mail Online, February 2, 2015

"Tales from the Trail: Poets share their stories at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering," by Dylan Woolf Harris, Elko Daily Press, January 31, 2015

"Teens rock the Cowboy Poetry Gathering," by Lauren Deane, Elko Daily Press, January 30, 2015
 

 


    The January edition of Jeri Dobrowski's Cowboy Jam Session has a focus on the Western Folklife Center's 31st annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Read the column here.
 


 

  Some recent items:

"Little Buckaroos: Elementary students experience cowboy culture," by Dylan Woolf Harris, Elko Daily Free Press

"Gear up for National Cowboy Poetry Gathering," Elko Daily Free Press

"Women Add Grit and Grace to Elko's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering," by Steve Bornfeld, VegasSeven

Full 2015 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering schedule

"Teen poets at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering," (video) Western Folklife Center

"A First-Timer's Guide to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering," by Sydney Martinez and Meg Mueller, Nevada Magazine

"Wyoming's Cheyenne Greub wins cowboy poetry contest," by Nathaniel Minor, Colorado Public Radio
 


 

   From the Western Folklife Center:

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Fosters Collaboration for Benefit of Western Landscapes and Culture


Elko’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is well known for its presentations of traditional and contemporary music and poetry from western ranching culture. Less well known is that for more than 20 years, it has also been a place where people with differing viewpoints come together to discuss challenges faced by ranchers and others in the rural West, and to craft creative solutions and share successes. At the 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 26-31, 2015, these conversations will continue. Gary Paul Nabhan, a nationally known western landscape history writer and food and farming activist, will deliver the keynote address, where he will discuss collaborative conservation efforts in the West over the last couple of decades, and their impact on ranching economies and ecosystem sustainability. He will also participate in a forum where ranchers and conservationists will share successful models of collaborations that are helping to protect ranchlands and biodiversity.

“The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is a great place to have these conversations,” explains David Roche, Executive Director of the Western Folklife Center, which produces the Gathering. “People can come together in a creative environment where they can listen to each other and build relationships. Our mission is to encourage the perpetuation of the traditions of ranching culture, to ensure their sustainability. Without the occupation there would be no cultural traditions, so it is important that we provide a forum for listening and problem-solving.”

Nabhan agrees. “If we don’t maintain wide open spaces and ranching as an economically viable livelihood, then the songs and stories become something of the past, not continuing into the present.” Nabhan has been involved as a participant and presenter at Elko Gatherings since the 1990s, and says these conversations at the Gathering have made a positive difference in keeping open lands as economical, productive, working landscapes. An increasing number of people understand the challenges that ranchers face and are more sympathetic which, Nabhan says, is helping bridge the so-called “urban-rural divide.”

At the 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Nabhan will participate with other scholars and ranchers in “Stitching The West Back Together: Collaborative Conservation On The Range,” an open discussion where they will share stories of collaborative, solution-based models that have evolved over the past two decades to conserve both biodiversity and working ranches. Participants include Nabhan; Richard Knight, professor of wildlife conservation at Colorado State University;Nevada ranchers Robin and Steve Boies; Thomas Sheridan, professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona; and Arizona rancher Richard Collins.

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is an annual celebration of the ranching and rural West. Through poetry, music, stories, films, dances, exhibitions, workshops and more, the Gathering showcases the beauty, humor, creativity and challenges of a life deeply connected to the earth and its bounty. Every year, thousands travel to rural Elko, Nevada, in the heart of winter, to listen, learn and share. More than 55 poets, musicians and musical groups from the U.S., Canada, Australia and Mexico will perform on seven stages at four different venues. Visit www.westernfolklife.org for a full list of artists, bios and audio samples. Tickets to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering can be purchased online at www.westernfolklife.org, or by calling 888-880-5885.

Posted 1/13

 


 

   From the Western Folklife Center:


Western Folklife Center Announces Winners of Next Generation Poetry Competition on YouTube


The Western Folklife Center and its 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering today announced the winners of the 2nd annual spoken word poetry competition on YouTube for poets ages 18-35. Expressing the Rural West: Poetry of the Next Generation is an ongoing effort to discover new artists who are carrying on the tradition of rural and cowboy poetry in the West. For the second year, aspiring poets from 17 western states were invited to film themselves reciting an original poem and upload it to YouTube.

Cheyenne Greub, from Buffalo, Wyoming, is the winner of the juried competition. Her poem, “As the Master Turns the Page,” is about living in Wyoming and working on a ranch. Cheyenne and her husband have been cowboying on the same ranch for seven years. Cheyenne performed in her first cowboy poetry gathering in Sheridan, Wyoming, when she was 14. That’s where she met her friend and mentor, cowboy poet Georgie Sicking, who has been writing and performing poetry at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and elsewhere for many years. As the winner of the juried competition, Cheyenne will be given an opportunity to perform on stage at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 26-31, and her travel and lodging will be paid for.

Jolyn Young is the winner of the audience award. Her poem, “So You Wanna Marry a Buckaroo?” received the most thumbs up on YouTube. Jolyn lives on the RO Ranch between Austin and Tonopah in central Nevada, where her husband cowboys for a living. Her poem chronicles her life as the wife of a working cowboy who moves frequently from ranch to ranch. She wrote the poem when her husband was away at cow camp and she was up late at night, worried and unable to sleep. Jolyn is a writer for the Nevada Rancher newspaper in Winnemucca, Nevada. Though this is the first poem she has written as an adult, creative writing is her passion, and she maintains a blog called “Warmin' Up Dinner, Watchin' For Dust,” at www.desolateranchwife.wordpress.com. Jolyn will receive two 3-day Deluxe Passes to the Gathering and a Gathering poster.

To enter the Expressing the Rural West: Poetry of the Next Generation contest, poets were invited to submit videos which included an artist introduction and did not exceed four minutes in length. Submissions had to be original compositions, performed and not read, and the content needed to have a rural focus. To qualify, poets had to live in one of the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington or Wyoming.

The poetry submissions can be viewed on the Expressing the Rural West: Poetry of the Next Generation YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/2014poetrycontest.

Posted 1/13

 


 

   From the Western Folklife Center:
 

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Hosts 2nd Annual Poetry Competition on YouTube


The Western Folklife Center and its 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering today announced the launch of the 2nd annual spoken word poetry competition on YouTube for poets ages 18-35. Expressing the Rural West: Poetry of the Next Generation is an effort to discover new artists who are carrying on the tradition of rural and cowboy poetry in the West.

“We know there are many poets in this age group who are writing and performing poetry,” explains David Roche, Executive Director of the Western Folklife Center, which produces the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. “We want to encourage them to participate in the contest and also come to the event and perform at open-mic sessions. They are the future of the tradition.”

Poets are invited to submit videos which include an artist introduction and do not exceed four minutes in length. Submissions may not contain curse words or explicit imagery and must be original compositions. Content should have a rural focus and poems should be performed and not read. Poets must be currently living in one of the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Poems will be judged by the public as well as by a committee of two professional poets and two staff members of the Western Folklife Center. There will be a winner of the public vote and a winner of the juried competition. The winner of the public vote will receive two free 3-Day Deluxe Passes to the 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and a free Gathering poster. The winner of the juried competition will be given a performance slot at the event and must be able to travel between January 28 to February 1, 2015. Travel and lodging will be paid by the Western Folklife Center.

Guidelines for the competition can be found on the Expressing the Rural West: Poetry of the Next Generation YouTube channel. Participants should tag their entries: “2015 Youth Poetry Competition.”

[Deadine extension] You have through Thursday, January 1, 2015, to submit your video for consideration. Judging will take place January 2-4 and winners will be announced on Monday, January 5. If you have questions or want more information, contact Darcy Minter, Western Folklife Center Communications Director at (775) 340-4240 or dminter@westernfolklife.org.

Updated 12/21

 


 


  Some recent news and blog articles:

"Wanted: The sharpest young poet in the West," by Nathaniel Minor, Colorado Public Radio, November 25, 2014


"Elko's 31st Celebration of the Old West," by Richard Carroll, travelingboy.com (blog) November 18, 2014


Posted 11/26


 

   From the Western Folklife Center:

 

The Vaqueros are Coming to the 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Baja cowboys a living link between Spain and the American buckaroo


Elko, NV—For nearly 300 years, ranching people have carved out an existence in the rugged, arid environment of the sierra of the lower California (Baja) peninsula. These rancheros and vaqueros are the direct descendents of Spanish soldiers who accompanied Jesuit missionaries to the Mexican frontier. To this day, they remain relatively isolated, living on what the land provides, maintaining their unique traditions. Their horsemanship and riding equipment is still patterned after that of their Spanish ancestors. They are a living link between Spain and the American buckaroo.

This winter, several rancheros will travel from their remote mountain home and head north to Elko, Nevada—buckaroo country—to share their culture with their American counterparts at the 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 26-31, 2015. In Elko, they will participate in school programs, performances, workshops, exhibit demonstrations, discussions and more, sharing the traditional acoustic music, ranch cuisine, local art and craftwork, traditional lore and humor of their Californio Sur roots. A folk art exhibition, The Life and Legacy of Ranching in Baja California Sur, will showcase their culture with historic and contemporary photographs and paintings, handcrafted gear, household items and videos.

“This is a unique opportunity to get to know people who are still practicing traditions that were long ago brought north and became the backbone of the horsemanship customs still practiced in California and the Great Basin,” explains David Roche, Executive Director of the Western Folklife Center, which produces the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. “We hope this cultural exchange with our neighbors to the south will help build awareness and appreciation of where many of our own traditions originated.”

When the Spanish missionaries moved north, the soldiers stayed behind and adapted to their dry mountain environment, tending cattle, sheep and goats on the rugged terrain. Today, they are still almost entirely self-sufficient. Many of their ranches cannot be reached by road. Explains Trudi Angell, one of the coordinators of the Baja program at the Gathering, “There are some pockets that are still so isolated today that people are still packing burros to go to town.”

At least seven representatives of the ranchero culture of Baja California Sur will attend the Gathering, including vaqueros, storytellers, leatherworkers, traditional cooks, musicians and dancers. The first of many performances during the week will be “An Evening in Baja,” Monday, January 26 at 7:00 pm in the G Three Bar Theater at the Western Folklife Center. The following day, members of the group will also conduct a workshop on Traditional Baja Ranch Cooking, where they will teach participants to prepare birria (traditional goat stew), dulce de camote (traditional sweet conserves made with seasonal fruit, yams or winter squash), and home-made cheese.

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering has a long history of organizing cultural exchanges with communities from around the globe that work with livestock. Past exchanges have brought to Elko gauchos from Argentina, gardiens from southern France, butteri from Italy, csikos from Hungary, and herding cultures from Mongolia, Australia, the British Isles, Colombia, Brazil and Mexico.

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is an annual celebration of the ranching and rural West. Through poetry, music and stories, ranch people express the beauty and challenges of a life deeply connected to the earth and its bounty. Every year, thousands travel to rural Elko, Nevada, in the heart of winter, to listen, learn and share. At the 31st Gathering, more than 55 poets, musicians and musical groups from the U.S., Canada, Australia and Mexico will perform on seven stages at four different venues. A full list of artists and their hometowns is included below. Visit our website for bios and audio tracks. Tickets can be purchased online at www.westernfolklife.org, or by calling 888-880-5885. Press passes available for members of the media. Contact Darcy Minter at dminter@westernfolklife.org.

Supporters of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering include NV Energy, Barrick Gold of North America, Newmont Mining Corporation, E.L. Cord Foundation, Nevada Humanities, Nevada Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Elko Convention and Visitors Authority, the City of Elko, Elko County, the Bretzlaff Foundation, Reno Rodeo Foundation, WESTAF, and many more foundations, businesses and individuals.

Posted 10/31

 


 

   From the Western Folklife Center:

The Western Flyers With Joey McKenzie to Perform at the Gathering for the First Time

We get excited when a new band comes along that we just can't wait to share with our National Cowboy Poetry Gathering audience. The Western Flyers is just such a band! This is the
latest musical adventure for award-winning multi-instrumentalist Joey McKenzie, who not only toured for ten years as guitarist for The Quebe Sisters Band, but was also the fiddle and vocal teacher and musical arranger for that popular western swing band and Gathering favorite. The Western Flyers weave together a unique cross-section of the Great American Songbook: from classic western swing to toe-tapping cowboy songs, hot jazz standards to electrifying old-time fiddle tunes. Joining Joey to blend traditional tunes with musical innovation are two-time National Fiddle Champion and vintage-style singer Katie Glassman and the incomparable world-class upright bass player Gavin Kelso.

Watch a video on YouTube of Katie Glassman singing "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter," and then get your tickets to their Gathering shows. They will be teaching a workshop for fiddle, guitar and bass players, Playing Western Swing, on Wednesday, January 28, from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. They will also open the Gathering Wednesday night in How The West Was Swung, in the Elko Convention Center Auditorium, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm, and will play the Saturday Night Dance.

Posted 10/14


 

  Tickets for the Western Folklife Center's 31st annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (January 26-31, 2015) are now on sale to the public.

Posted 10/3


 

  Heather Hafleigh's annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering KPFA radio program aired September 24, 2014, and is available for listening through October 1.

The first part of the show focuses on the Baja vaqueros and includes guest Trudi Angel (tourbaja.com). There are also "Year of the Horse" -hemed selections of music and poetry from some of the scheduled performers.

The playlist includes:

Augie Meyers, "Down in Mexico'"
El Trio Los Ases Maria del Pilar
Buck Ramsey, "Trail to Mexico"
Gretchen Peters with Tom Russell, "Guadalupe"
Gail Steiger, "Jose Flores"
Irene Kelley, "O Mexico"
Glenn Ohrlin, "Jacinto Trevino"
Katy Moffatt, "Black-Eyed Caballero"
Tom Russell, "Volver, Volver" (intro), "The Rose of the San Joaquin"
Denise Withnell, "South of the Border"
Rich O'Brien, "Rose of Mexico"
Rod Taylor, "Border Affair"
Ray Doyle, "Rosalba"
Peter LaFarge, "Trail to Mexico"
David Wilkie, "Trail to Mexico/In the Tap Room/The Banshee"
Ian Tyson, "La Primera"
Larry McWhorter, "Where the Ponies Come to Drink"
Wylie and the Wild West, "Manolito"
DW Groethe, "Star Cavvy"
Andy Hedges, "The Bronc that Wouldn't Quit"
Joel Nelson, "Scotty"
John Dofflemyer, "Greasy Corrals"
Ross Knox, "Forgotten"
John Dofflemyer, "Pray for Rain"

Listen to the program here.
 



 

   Help bring Baja vaqueros to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

 


 

  Tickets for the Western Folklife Center's 31st annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (January 26-31, 2015) go on sale September 2, 2014 for members.

Posted 8/29


 

  The Western Folklife Center has announced the workshops and ticketed shows for the 31st annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (January 26-31, 2015).

Tickets go on sale to Western Folklife Center members September 2, 2014, and to non-members one month later.

Posted 8/11
 



  The Western Folklife Center has announced the performers for the 31st annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (January 26-31, 2015). From their announcement:

We are pleased to announce the awesome line-up of poets and musicians performing at the 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 26-31, 2015, in Elko, NV. A total of 55 poets, musicians, duos and bands will perform, including 10 artists who have never performed at the Gathering before. It's time to start planning your trip to Elko! Here they are:

Eli Barsi, Moosomin, Saskatchewan, Canada; Mike Beck, Monterey, CA; Baxter Black, Benson, AZ; Dave Bourne, Agoura Hills, CA; Jerry Brooks, Sevier, UT; Cowboy Celtic, Turner Valley, Alberta, Canada; John Dofflemyer, Lemon Cove, CA; Elizabeth Ebert, Lemmon, SD; Don Edwards, Hico, TX; Thatch Elmer, Bear River, WY; Dick Gibford, New Cuyuma, CA; DW Groethe, Bainville, MT; Kenny Hall, Tropic, UT; Linda Hasselstrom, Hermosa, SD; Chuck Hawthorne, Manor, TX; Andy Hedges, Lubbock, TX; Carol Heuchan, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia; Brenn Hill, Hooper, UT; Yvonne Hollenbeck, Clearfield, SD; Ross Knox, Midpines, CA; Corb Lund & The Hurtin' Albertans, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Deanna Dickinson McCall, Timberon, NM; Gary McMahan, Bellvue, CO; Wally McRae, Forsyth, MT' Doc Mehl, Westminster, CO; Augie Meyer, San Antonio, TX; Chuck Milner, Reydon, OK; Waddie Mitchell, Twin Bridges, NV; Andy Nelson, Pinedale, WY; Joel Nelson, Alpine, TX; Rodney Nelson, Almont, ND; Wayne Nelson, American Falls, ID; Kay Kelley Nowell, Alpine, TX; Glenn Ohrlin, Mountain View, AR; Sharon Salisbury O'Toole, Savery, WY; Ed Peekeekoot, Crofton, British Columbia, Canada; Gretchen Peters & Barry Walsh, Nashville, TN; Shadd Piehl, Mandan, ND; Vess Quinlan, San Acacio, CO; Henry Real Bird, Garryowen, MT; Brigid Reedy, Boulder, MT; Pat Richardson, Merced, CA; Randy Rieman, Dillon, MT; Kent Rollins, Hollis, OK; Tom Russell, Canutillo, TX; Sandy Seaton Sallee, Emigrant, MT; Georgie Sicking, Kaycee, WY; Sourdough Slim & Robert Armstrong, Paradise, CA; Gail Steiger, Prescott, AZ; Caitlyn Taussig, Kremmling, CO; Charis Thorsell, Burbank, OH; Ian Tyson, Longview, Alberta, Canada; The Western Flyers, Burleson, TX; Wylie & The Wild West, Conrad, MT; and Paul Zarzyski, Great Falls, MT.


Find more at the Gathering
web site.

[31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering poster by artist Carlos César Díaz Castro]

Posted 7/7



  The
Western Folklife Center has unveiled the poster art for the 31st annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (January 26-31, 2015).

 From their newsletter:

We are pleased to unveil the 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering poster by artist Carlos César Díaz Castro, who lives in the city of La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. His interest in painting and drawing began when he was four years old when he won a painting competition. He is a photographer, graphic designer, communicator and teacher. His paintings are exhibited in Todos Santos, a small town in Baja on the Pacific Ocean that is known as an artists' community.

We chose Carlos' artwork to represent our 2015 cultural exchange with the ranchers and vaqueros of the desert mountains of Baja, who will join us at the Gathering, January 26-31, 2015. This painting of a Baja vaquero Don José, and his mule, is titled "Don José y La Pancha."

We hope you will also join us as we celebrate a real rural western culture that has had a strong influence on our own buckaroo/californio heritage, and learn how Baja vaqueros are responding to their own modern challenges in the rural West. Tickets will go on sale to Western Folklife Center members on Tuesday, September 2 and to the general public on Thursday, October 2.

Find more at westernfolklife.org.

Posted 6/9


 

  The Western Folklife Center has announced that Baja vaqueros will be celebrated at the 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (January 26-31, 2015 in Elko, Nevada). In the past, the gathering has celebrated cowboys, herding, and horse cultures from around the world, from Argentina to Mongolia and beyond.

From their newsletter:

... We’ll be visiting a little-known corner of Mexico by celebrating the vaquero culture of Baja California Sur. For nearly 300 years, ranching families have carved out an existence in the rugged, arid environment of the sierra of the Baja peninsula. These ranching families are the direct descendents of Spanish missionary soldiers, and continue to maintain their horseback traditions and use riding equipment that is patterned after the horse gear of these Spanish ancestors. These vaqueros are a living link between Spain and the American buckaroo. Because of their geographic isolation, they continue to produce much of what they need by hand and have retained Spanish Colonial and Native practices of gearmaking, livestock handling and use of medicinal plants that are rarely seen outside the region. Due to the lack of economic opportunity, however, many are leaving the sierra for the city.

Join us to celebrate a real rural western culture that has had a strong influence on our own buckaroo/californio heritage, and learn how Baja vaqueros are responding to their own modern challenges in the rural West.

The 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering will also celebrate the creative American West with an exceptional program of poetry, music, stories, exhibits, films, dancing, workshops and more. Mark your calendars for another winter hoedown with old friends and new.

Featured poets and musicians selected for the 31st gathering will be announced in June.

Find more at the Western Folklife Center, www.westernfolklife.org.

Posted 5/5

 

 

 

 


 

More about the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering 
 





 


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.  

 

www.cowboypoetry.com

 

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