Cowboy Poetry and Western Life

Events and Festivals

Gathering Reports
2000 and 2001


We invite folks to send in reports about gatherings.

Following are reports about events that 
are linked from event listings on the Events page. 

(Some links may be out of date.)

See links to all gathering reports since 2000 here

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January 2001
The Cowboy Poetry Gathering Elko, Nevada

Read Omar's daily reports from Elko 2001 and 2000. 


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February 2001
Annual Lewis-Clark Cowboy Poetry, Music and Western Arts Festival   Lewiston, Idaho
contact: Kathy Camden, PO Box 208, Nezperce, ID 83543, 208-937-2352 fax: 208-937-9899

Report from the 2001 festival, reprinted from the Charley Russell Western Heritage Association (CRWHA) newsletter:

Third Annual Lewis & Clark

Cowboy Poetry, Music and Western Arts Festival

By: Charlie Camden

On Thursday Feb. 8th at 6:00 P.M. the Third Annual Lewis and Clark Cowboy Poetry, Music and Western Arts Festival was kicked off in Grand style by a Jam Session of all the performers that would appear in the next three days. Western Artists of all medias displayed their works to wandering crowds that far exceeded expectations. The Elks Lodge sits high above the Snake River Waterway and provides a spectacular overview of the Inland Seaports Cities of Lewiston, Idaho and Clarkston, Washington. The entire front of the Lodge is solid glass which at night allows to audience to view to lights of the cities reflected upon the waters 500 feet below. The Jam Session was free to the public, as were the day sessions and events held Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

There were three stages going all day and over the two day period there were 42 sessions that Performers could appear in. Spectators could choose who they wanted to watch from the schedule. On Saturday afternoon there was a Mustache Contest which was won by Jeff Streeby. (Absolutely not rigged!) The judges were Lady DJ’s and personnel from Radio Station KRLC 1350 AM in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley. There was also a mock Mustache Contest for the Ladies which was judged by a couple of Wrangler Butts. (Dave Camden and Jeff Camden.) The main criteria for both contests was that the Mustache be Kissable. Spouses had to sign an agreement of Non-Aggression to allow eligibility. The winner of the Ladies Mustache Contest was Sandy Jones. She had a beautiful swooping "Roany" colored handlebar that smelled suspiciously of Horsebackside.

Immediately following the Mustache Contest was the "Liar’s Contest" or as it has come to be known "The Charlie Camden Wide Loop Award" given to the man or woman who can, with a straight face, tell you a bald faced lie and make you believe it. This event always draws a capacity crowd.

At 4:00 P.M. on Friday and Saturday the Ballroom was emptied to allow the Elks Staff to setup for the Catered Nights Shows. The main stage was set in the center of the Ballroom which is larger that a football field, over 400 feet in length and 175 feet in width. Tables and chairs circled the stage and the room was filled to capacity with many people standing in entry ways.

On Sunday morning Les Misner led the Services at the Cowboy Church. There was no shortage of Performers and very little standing in the Lodge Room. As usual, emotions were near the surface and tears and smiles were side by side.

It would be impossible to give all the details and difficult to list all the Performers and Western Artists, but some names that are familiar are: Lee Earl, Leon Flick, Joni Harms, Wylie Gustafson,Brenn Hill, Sam Mattise, Dallas McCord, "Curly " Jim Musgrave, Doc Stovall, Jerry Warren, Terry Taylor, Barry Ward, Charlie Camden, "Windy " Bill Chiles, Gene and Sandy Jones, Wayne Nelson, Mike Puhallo, Don Rice, Jeff Streeby, Milton Taylor (of Australia), Dave Tingey, Dick Warwick, Gene and Sandy Jones, Michael Robinson, Mark Johnson, D. Hill, Casey Allen, Amy Brooks, High Desert Sage, Snake River Boys, Stacy Sue, Fletcher Girls, Fletcher Girls, Writer Ray, Donna Hatton, Dewey Wichman, and Wyoming Red and many more.

Preparations are underway and performers already signed up for next year. New faces show up every year and we rotate performers on night shows so all have a chance. We have had National TV coverage the past two years, and can be seen on PBS Stations around the country, on "Cowboy Corral." Call your local PBS Station and find times for airing in your area.

Ride Easy, take a deep seat and nod for the gate. Charlie Camden


Read Charlie Camden's Just Beyond the Ridge column here at the BAR-D


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March 2001
Annual Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival  Santa Clarita, California.

Read Omar's daily reports from Santa Clarita in 2001. 


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June 2001
Brandon Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Brandon, Manitoba 
contact Doc Hayes, 302/725-0758

(see the event description here)

Doc Hayes' report June 19, 2001 (Read Doc Hayes' poetry here at the BAR-D.)

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of


Howdy Bucky and Crew,  

We finished up a week ago and my wife and I took off for the Pinscher Creek (Alberta) Gathering.  At Brandon we had a great time.  Probably the most successful was the Chuckwagon Supper, Music, Poetry and the Tall Tale Tellers Competition.  We ate BBQ Chicken, cowboy sausage, gravy, baked
'taters, salad, unbelievably good cowboy beans laced with pork, bacon, and red onions, and finished that off with fresh baked deep dish apple pie and great coffee. Our Mayor went back for seconds on every thing but most of us went for thirds on the beans and the pie.  The "liars" competition was won by Doug Keith, cowboy poet, working cowboy, and very successful tall tale teller, whose story about dealing with a grizzly bear was not only outrageous but even remotely believable.  The most funny award went to Len Carrol, former movie stuntman, cowboy poet, rancher/cattleman.  The most outrageous award was won by Dick Winters, cowboy poet, PMU rancher and 40 years a cowboy and packer.  Sounded almost as good as some of the Clinton apologists down in the states. Friday and Saturday were great shows with Chris Isaacs doing his usual great job.  Championship yodelers, famous musicians, and a string of poets made the shows charged with electricity and a goodly number commented on sore stomachs from laughing so hard.  Two fine talents were "discovered"
during the open sessions.  Vic Hinton, a train engineer for Canadian Pacific, who is built on the scale of a young Pavarotti and with a magnificent voice sang traditional western ballads and filled the house with music so beautiful that many said he was the best western singer they had ever heard.  He had never been to a gathering before and pretty much was a closet singer.  WE WILL HAVE HIM BACK!  Ed Brown, a working cowboy and sculptor of western art, told stories, sang beautifully and played guitar with great talent and did original poetry so good that Chris Isaac commented that Ed was the most talented man there.  He had burned out on singing about ten years ago and had not been on the stage since then.  We worked him hard and several of the featured gave him time from there sets to get him on the Friday and Saturday shows. It is a mild understatement to say that we had a great time and look forward to next year's when we are slated for Waddie Mitchell, Ben Crane,
Leon Autry, and a passel of right fine other talented performers.   

Regards "Doc"


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August 2001 
14th Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering  Prescott, Arizona

DanMM.jpg (3816 bytes)  Read our report of the 2001 gathering


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September, 2000 
Annual Western Legends Celebration  Kanab, Utah
(see the associated Cowboy Poetry Rodeo below

This article appeared originally in "Rope Burns," and is reprinted here with the author's kind permission.

Phillip A. Snyder
English Department
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah

Cowboy poetry and Western festivals seem to be popping up all over the country, but the inaugural Utah Western Heritage Festival, held the 8th and 9th of September 2000 in Spanish Fork, Utah, was just a little bit different than the rest.  Of course, it included all the traditional festival elements--cowboy poetry, Western music, Western films, buckaroo ropers, horse whisperers, pack outfitters, mountain man encampments, gunfighter re-enactments, Native-American dancers, and all sorts of Western artists and artisans--and featured prominent Western performers such as headliners
Baxter Black, Stephanie Davis, and Brenn Hill.  It was a great two days of roping, reciting, singing, and generally celebrating Western culture.

But what made the Utah Western Heritage Festival so different was this: after the spotlights dimmed on the big Saturday night show, while most folks went back home to their regular lives, some folks headed toward the outskirts of town where an old-time cowboy camp lay, complete with a circle
of wagons and an 80-head horse herd, ready to begin a 290-mile ride to Kanab, Utah.  The Utah Western Heritage Festival was hitting the trail on the Western Legends Ride. For the next two weeks, the ride took Western culture to a variety of schools and communities with special programs every evening featuring local history, cowboy poetry, and Western music.  The ride linked the Spanish Fork festival with Kanab's Western Legends Festival.

The Utah Western Heritage Foundation, co-sponsor of the festival and sponsor of the ride, was formed in 2000 to preserve Utah's unique Western culture and particularly the cultural contributions of the various ethnic groups that settled Utah, including the indigenous Paiute, Shoshone, and Ute
tribes.  Participants in the festival had the opportunity to learn more about Western culture through its demonstrations of art, crafts, dance, foods, film, history, literature, and music.  Friday was education day at the festival featuring special morning and afternoon programs of poetry and
music presented for the hundreds of public school children who attended. The children enjoyed the regular festival demonstrations as well, especially the mountain man encampment, the gunfighter exhibition, and the wheelwright demonstrations.

Cowboy poets participating in the festival included Trey Allen, Paul Bliss, Bill Bunting, Allen Clark, Jeff Coats, Sam DeLeeuw, Don Kennington, Phil Kennington, Ray Lashley, and Curly Syndergaard.  Saturday evening Sam had the audience--especially ranch women--nodding their heads knowingly and laughing heartily listening to her poetic observations on ranch life from a woman's perspective.  Don had everyone, especially would-be farriers, shaking with laughter on hearing his popular signature poem "Shoeing Old Rivet."  Bringing a more serious note to the program, Trey, Paul, and Curly recited Bruce Kiskaddon's classic "When They've Finished Shipping Cattle in the Fall," alternating stanzas without missing a beat or a word. 

Western musicians included singer Robin Arnold, guitarist Roy Glover, fiddler Kathy Hunter, and musical groups the Peteetneet Creek Ranch Hands and the Red Rock Wranglers.  Cowboy humorist Baxter Black had the Saturday evening crowd in stitches--even folks who had seen him perform before said he had never been funnier.  Singer-songwriter Stephanie Davis performed old favorites "Prairie Lullaby" and "Wolves," debuting a beautiful new song "Crocus in the Snow" which will be featured on her next CD.  Everyone heard for themselves why Chris Ledoux called Brenn Hill the best new artist he's heard.  Brenn performed songs from each of his three fine CDs, but featured
songs from his newest, Trail Through Yesterday, co-produced by Ian Tyson.

Next year's Utah Western Heritage Festival is scheduled for the 7th and 8th of September at the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds.  The Utah Western Heritage Foundation is also sponsoring a special concert featuring Jackson Hole's famous Bar J Wranglers on May 3rd at 7:00 p.m. in Spanish Fork.  For ticket and other information about the foundation or festival, please write: Utah Western Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 372, Spanish Fork, UT 84660.   Or call Paul and Stacy Bliss at (801) 423-5027.  Or check out our web

See some photos from the 2000 event, by professional photographer Bruce Dale. 


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August, 2001 
Cowboy Poetry Rodeo  Kanab, Utah

(Report from Sam Jackson)

  Read Lariat Laureate Sam Jackson's poetry here at the BAR-D.  And read our special feature on the Cowboy Poetry Rodeo here.

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of


Howdy Bucky and all the folks at the Bar-D Ranch,

I would have sent along some information on this year's Western Legends Round-up “Cowboy Poetry Rodeo” sooner if my horse hadn’t stepped in a badger hole. Me and the horse was OK but the badger was home and seemed to be hurt pretty bad. He was knocked out so I bundled him up in my sheepskin coat and headed for the vet when the trouble started----well, you can finish this story yourself. But back to the Cowboy Poetry Rodeo:  As you probably know this was the 4th year it has run and is getting nothing but bigger and better in all aspects, but rather than me telling you about it, I’ll let some of this years “riders” do it for me:

Dear Sam,

The Western Legends Round-up in Kanab is my favorite gathering in Utah.  I've been writing poems for years but I'm still pretty new at the performance end of things, and there is a definite "workshop" atmosphere about the event in Kanab.   Folks are friendly and responsive, and there are plenty of opportunities to interact with other poets and learn from the pros.  The round-up also seems to attract a higher caliber of poets than some other gatherings.  One of the side benefits of the gathering is the opportunity to  interact with other poets I've previously only known through web sites or email.  My favorite events were the impromptu jam sessions, which the organizers at Kanab seem to encourage.  Good poems, good people, good feelings all the way around.  I definitely want to keep coming back.

Jo Lynne Kirkwood ( Lariat Laureate)

Here’s a letter from Canada--                                                                                           

Dear Sam and Western Legends round-up folks,

For than several decades I have been attending (Academic and Cowboy) poetry readings and recitations, both for the pleasure of listening and presenting.  This past week's competition in Kanab was one of the most enjoyable I have ever attended.  The professionalism of the recitation was almost off scale and the content, quality, and structure of the poetry
presented was comparable to the best in the genre.  As an academic who teaches graduate and undergraduate students about poetry and its integration into children's literacy development, I found the experience an exceptional and very enjoyable happening.  Looking forward to next year!

Dr. Dale Hayes, Professor
Brandon University
Brandon, Manitoba Canada
("Doc" Hayes)

And another from one of the big money winners.  Stan Tixier, Eden Utah

Just a few thoughts, Sam:  The competition was intense but friendly.  Poets competing against each other were friendly and supportive of everyone. The level of "quality" of poetry was superb and presentations outstanding. While only a few shared in the nearly$5000  in prize money, everyone benefited and considered the entry fees as "tuition" paid for an educational experience.  Cowboy poetry competition hones the skills of the poets,  makes presentations a good deal better and entertains the audience in grand style. It's an idea
that ought to catch on in other locations.

See you next year,  Stan Tixier

And one from  Ed Nesselhuf (the Prairie Pastor Poet from South Dakota)

     Having performed poetry for the past 5 years, I am receiving numerous comments in the past year that my delivery has grown and improved considerably.  I believe that is true and credit it to my participation in the cowboy poetry competition held annually in Utah.  And thanks again for getting this whole affair started.  It wouldn't surprise me if in 10 years, Kanab was the place to go rather than Elko!  Peace, Ed Nesselhof  

Ed Nesselhuf a.k.a. The Prairie Pastor/Poet

There’s more but I’ll let that suffice for now. 

The money winners-

Stan Tixier                          Eden, Utah                           $1390.00
Don Kennington                 Ogden, Utah                          1107.00         
Ed Nesselhuf                      Burbank, South Dakota          967.50
Dan Bradshaw                   Scipio, Utah                              391.50
Butch Martin                      Grants Pass, Oregon             382.50
Allen Clark                          Green River, Utah                 225.00
Doug Keller                         Kanab, Utah                              166.50
Hilma Volk                          Couer d’Alene, Idaho             153.00
Perry Payne                       Monroe, Utah                            121.50
Dick Ufford                          Vernal Utah                                 45.00




Stan, Don, Dan and Butch each received a beautiful Championship buckle and were  featured on the Saturday night show with Baxter Black and Don Edwards.

Next year's Westerns Legends Roundup is scheduled for August 21-24 with the Cowboy Poetry Rodeo held for August 23-24, 2002 with Michael Martin Murphey as the featured entertainer. The Poetry Rodeo is already filling up, so I’d urge those who might have an interest to contact me ASAP.

One last thought:  The benefits for the participants are so great that I’d like to see the various Cowboy poetry organizations around the country do one of two things: Pick their best poet and send him/her to Kanab next year or—hold their own competition and send the winners to the finals here.  I’d be glad to help any group who might be interested.

You can get e-mail me at , call me at (435) 644-5459 or write to 4675 E. Vermillion Ave. Kanab, Utah 84741

Happy tales to you,  Sam Jackson

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Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns

Wyoming has historically been known as the "Cowboy State," and time has  not changed the appropriateness of that.

It's been a dozen decades since the first big cattle ranches grew up around Wyoming's capitol city of Cheyenne, making it the hub of the beef  industry in the new West.  Cheyenne's legendary "Daddy Of 'Em All" Frontier  Days rodeo is better than a century old.  Yet cowboys, cowboy lore, and the cowboy way have never become "old hat" there.

That was obvious as the First Annual Cheyenne Cowboy Symposium &  Celebration hit the community like a runaway train Labor Day Weekend, 2001.

When the dust had settled, it went down in history as hosting 54 presenters and performers from 12 states, who wow-ed some 2000 fans and spectators from across the nation during the three-day event.

Organizer and General Chairman Pat McKelvey of Cheyenne said, "Our  motto, 'The West Was Won With A Horse And A Handshake' seems even more appropriate in the wake of this wonderful celebration of friendship and cowboy values."

Endorsed by the American Cowboy Culture Association and presented  under the non-profit umbrella of Cheyenne Family YMCA and Writer's Voice, the Symposium was organized to give today's world a window to Wyoming's rich heritage and the legacy of the American cowboy.

McKelvey said, "We need to perpetuate strong connections to our roots, a deep sense of place, and loyalty to the values and strengths which enabled our ancestors to settle and develop the Great Plains.  These rich qualities have made our region successful, and will continue to influence our
future growth only as we preserve them."

During the concurrent day sessions and at the three night shows, performers who have earned their spurs at cowboy culture events across the nation and beyond mesmerized listening audiences with stories, poems and songs. Most were  original, and all highlighted some facet of the pageantry
 and pathos of the taming and settling of the old wild West, or the daily work and indomitable spirit of today's West.

Enhancing the performing arts segment of the Symposium were myriad historical presentations by experts in the field. Authentic recreation groups representing the Wyoming Girl Guards, Buffalo Soldiers and 7th Cavalry gave performances and demonstrations, and had booths at the Symposium.  The Cheyenne Gunslingers also participated.

Live demonstrations and seminars were given on horse training and horse shoeing.  A yodeling seminar and contest were held.

Visual art depicting the cowboy lifestyle was showcased at the big  cowboy trappings and trade show, giving visitors yet another window into this vanishing heritage.  The cowboy lifestyle embodies a rare style and flair not found anywhere else.  This is represented in the tools of their trade - bridles, saddles, quirts, riatas, chaps, chinks, boots, hats, spurs, bits.  It includes tooled leather, forged steel, engraved silver, braided  rawhide and hitched horsehair.  Craftsmen and creators of these often one-of-a-kind masterpieces came to the trade fair from as far away as Florida. Native American craftsmen were also featured.

For those wanting to take home some of the sounds of the Symposium, there was a virtual smorgasbord of audio and video masterpieces by the  performers.   Many of them also had books in the offering.

"Re-living the pioneer spirit at the crossroads of the West" was the theme of the Symposium.  In keeping with that, a large contingent of area  pioneers were honored.  They eagerly shared information on how early their families had settled in the region, and told wonderful stories of
pioneering  experiences.  An award was given for the oldest pioneer, and the entire  session was videotaped to preserve the oral history.

Every major civilization and nearly every ethnic group has an oral  history, which is memorized and passed down verbally from generation to  generation.  Most of America seems to lack this particular treasure. Not so with the cowboy, whose rhyming, rhythmic recitation of stories preserves for posterity events which happened along the cattle trails and in their day-to-day lives.

The writings of classic cowboy poets such as S. Omar Barker, Curly Fletcher, Gail Gardner, Badger Clark, Bruce Kiskaddon and Sharlot Hall are revered, memorized and performed with a great deal of style and feeling.

A stampede of contemporary cowboy and cowgirl poets from across the US, Canada and even Australia continue to create original works to rival the old  masters.

Traditional cowboy music became an extension of this oral history, as early cowboys adapted European folk songs and melodies of seagoing men. They simply substituted words from their own poems and folk stories for the original lyrics.  Strong Celtic roots are obvious in much of this music,
as  is yodeling.  Many talented musicians respect this genre and wish to preserve and perpetuate it, therefore excellent contemporary cowboy music is being written and performed within traditional parameters, along with the  old classics.

Guitars, fiddles, mandolins, banjos, harmonicas, bass fiddles and percussive instruments as earthy as bones and washtubs were showcased during the Symposium, backing harmonious vocals in rich renditions of these songs.

After two jam-packed days of non-stop activity at Symposium headquarters, Cheyenne's Holiday Inn, the festivities moved eastward along Crow Creek to the historic Wyoming Hereford Ranch headquarters for the Sunday finale.  Cowboy church was followed by a delicious cream can

After an afternoon of impromptu poems, music and storytelling, an old time ice cream social topped off the Symposium.

McKelvey and her large volunteer committee and crew of helpers are already planning the 2nd Annual Cheyenne Cowboy Symposium & Celebration for Labor Day Weekend 2002.

She says, "Ranching was Wyoming's only major industry at the time of statehood, and for some time afterward.  They planted the first trees, created the first parks, built the first schools and churches and fine homes in this community.  The presence and undeniable impact of cowboys made Cheyenne a word which rolled magically off the tongues of the rest of America, as well as much of the world at large.  Theirs is a heritage which should be appreciated and preserved - a heritage which deserves to be celebrated."

Most of the performers and presenters from this year are anxious to be involved in the 2002 Symposium, and the committee already has a number of new features lined up.

Wyoming and cowboys - the two are synonymous.  What better place than old Cheyenne, in the shadow of the Rockies, to bring them together?

© Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns 2001
This article appeared in Saddle Baron magazine and is reprinted with the author's permission.

To learn more, visit (which includes slide shows of photos from the 2001 event, and much information about the 2002 event).

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September, 2001

The National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration   Lubbock, Texas

David Kelley It's a pleasure to bring you a report from our pard-on-the-scene, Lariat Laureate runner up David Kelley. Read his poetry here at the BAR-D. 

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of



Dateline Lubbock, Texas, the hub of the Texas plains!  What a hub of activity, this bustling city was this past week as well.  Home of the largest cowboy symposium “in the world,” the city hosts this premier event each year in this, the early part of September.

Beginning Thursday, the 6th, with a horseshoeing clinic, a trail ride, and what many waited for all year, the American Cowboy Culture Award Show that evening, along with the kickoff of the National Cowboy Cancer Crusade.  

Friday the 7th began the concurrent sessions of poetry, music, stories, papers, panels, and presentations, proving one can put twenty pounds in a fifteen pound bag.  Concurrent sessions were held in three banquet rooms, an awesome roomy theater, a mid-exhibit hall open-mic stage, and the magnificent outdoor stage.  Additionally on Friday were forging classes, exhibit and sale of all things “Western,” the famous Texas BBQ sandwich lunch, Craig Cameron’s horse training seminar and demonstration, followed that evening with performances and a yearly Cowboy Dance to benefit the Texas Tech University Rodeo Scholarship Fund.  Music this year, was provided by the “Double Nickel Band.”  

Saturday the 8th, saw a repeat of the “Concurrent Sessions,” plus the “Parade of Horses," the “West Texas Native American Association Dancers,” the “Fiddlers Contest,” “Texas Longhorn Show & Steer Bonanza,” and the “National Championship Chuckwagon Cookoff Meal & Musical Entertainment,” followed again that evening, with a dance.  

Sunday the 9th began with the “Nation's Largest Chuckwagon Breakfast.”  The “Longhorn Show,” a free outdoor concert, and the ever popular, “Non-Denominational Cowboy Devotional Service” finishes off the years event.

This year's special attractions were the, “21st Annual Texas Professional Farriers Association” convention, and the “3rd Annual Texas Longhorn Cattle Show.”

Some of Thursday evening’s American Cowboy Culture Award winners were:

RANCHING AWARD: The Tule Ranch, Billy and Bette Cogdell Tulia,Texas
HEAD OF THE CLASS AWARD: Tara Graham (Miss Rodeo America) Loveland, Colorado
RODEO AWARD: National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association
CHUCK WAGON AWARD: Diamond B Chuck Wagon Levelland, Texas

In discussion with Mr. Alvin Davis, the originator and on-going organizer of the event, we have found this years event will set all kinds of records, with over 80 Poets, 80 Musicians, 39 Chuck Wagons, 70 Farriers, 40 Story Tellers, 200 Exhibit Booths of all kinds, Children's Poetry awards, and attendance is expected to set records as well.  Alvin tells that the City of Lubbock has gotten behind the event, and helped to make it one of the finest events of its kind in the nation, and if very proud to have the even in Lubbock. The fact that Alvin has had heart bypass surgery this year, has not dampened his love for this event, nor has it effected the  event as a whole.

While this is not the largest “Poetry” event, or “Music” event, it is THE LARGEST cowboy event in the world, and unless one has multiple bodies, AND multiple personalities, it is impossible to make all the events available to be had.  This event began with a bunch of the old “Shore ‘Nuff” cowboys getting together to show their own spur making, tack and ranching information, and things known worldwide in the “Cowboy” world as the “Shore ‘Nuff” event of the year.  It still is the “Shore ‘Nuff” event, however folks from all walks of life, and all corners of the earth, have now taken on the love of the “Cowboy Way,” and the demand for all things western and cowboy, is only encouraged by this wonderful event.  

The ever-present grumbling of the old timers aside, I think it’s important to note, that while talk abounds all over the country about the demise of the American Cowboy, he’s NOT dead, and with the continuation and proliferation of events such as this, the “Cowboy Spirit” will live on forever, and that can only be a good thing.  Cowboys, like a lot of hard working folk, are always averse to change, and while it might be hard to see the “Taiwan Tommyhawks” coming into the exhibit hall, let’s not forget it STILL promotes the cowboy way, and the western lifestyle we love so much. Yes, some of us may be greenhorn “Wannabes,” and cowboys in heart only, but, what’s wrong with that?  Thanks to some progressive thinking, the cowboy way is alive and well, and while actual cowboy operations have gone high tech, to some degree, as long as there are cows, there will be cowboys, and there will be work done from the back of a horse. 

Congratulations to the National Cowboy Symposium, and we hope it remains the fine event it is today!

David Kelley


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December 2001
The 14th Annual Cowboy Christmas Poetry Gathering Wickenburg, Arizona

We're pleased to have an enthusiastic report from Lariat Laureate runner up Rusty Calhoun from the 2001, 13th Annual Christmas Cowboy Poetry gathering in Wickenberg, Arizona, which she attended along with Lariat Laureate runners up Jane Morton and Byrd Woodward, and our old pard Ron Brinegar.


  Read Lariat Laureate runner up Rusty Calhoun's poetry here at the BAR-D.

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of

Day after Wickenburg - wanted to share a few thoughts with you.

Your Bar-D cowboy poet friends were tuned into our audiences today!

Performances were right on target, eliciting applause, laughs, tears and nods of agreement with our recitations and songs.  It was like a lovely dance that we shared with the audience- we all moved rhythmically together.  Lots of warmth!

We had huge audiences  People truly hungering for words of simple truths - God's Creation, man's humanity to the beasts and creatures, respect for the land, the honesty of the cowboy way, a simpler way of life.  So many longing for messages of comfort and stability after the terrible ordeal we have suffered at the hands of terrorists.

I am so proud to be a member of this cowboy poet fraternity - it's great fun, but more than that, it is kind, caring cowboys and cowgirls sharing their stories and family histories without crude or insulting humor, or denigrating others.    I love my fellow poets and enjoy their company so much.  Lots of hugs all around, lovely music and messages of hope and strength. I know to many "sophisticated" people this seems, at first blush,  like an insignificant "art form" to keep alive...but when they listen to the wonderful messages about our families, friends,  and the deep love we hold for our ranches -- because so much of our blood and guts goes into them -- everyone wants to be a cowboy!

The real ranch raised cowboy is one of the last real heroes we have left in America!

There was a rousing chorus of  people singing "Happy Trails" with us at the closing.

I bless my good fortune in being fetched up "cowboy"!

December 2001, Rusty Calhoun

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