Cowboy Poetry and Western Life

Events and Festivals

Gathering Reports


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(Some links may be out of date.)

2006 Reports

April - June


Kennewick (Washington) April

Virginia City (Nevada) April

St. Anthony (Idaho) April

near Kimball and Pukwana (South Dakota) May

Heritage of the American West (South Dakota) May separate page

Medora (North Dakota) May separate page

Nordegg (Alberta) June

Rupert (Idaho) June

Fort Scott (Kansas) June

Townsend (Montana) June separate page

Ellensburg (Washington) June separate page

Virginia City (Montana) June

Cowboy Poetry Week reports separate page



See January-March reports here
See July - September reports here
See October-December reports here


See our "Tips for Gathering Reports" here.

See reports from 2005 here
See reports from 2004 here
See reports from 2003 here
See reports for 2002 here
Reports from 2000- 2001 are here


Back to Events page . . .
Back on home . . .


April, 2006
Annual Columbia River Cowboy Gathering, Kennewick, Washington


Report and photos by Smoke Wade 

The Kennewick Report

3rd Annual Columbia River Cowboy Gathering

In the language of the Chemnapam people, Kennewick translates as "Winter Haven" … a place to gather and celebrate. In the timeless tradition of coming together, cowboy poets and western musicians gathered in Kennewick, Washington on April 7 –9, 2006, for the 3rd Annual Columbia River Cowboy Gathering.

The event was organized by the Columbia River Cowboy Gathering Foundation under the direction of Ed & Angie Dailey and Budd & Judy Massengale, event coordinators. Many local sponsors contributed to help make the gathering a success.

The talented cast of invited poets and musicians represented a broad cross section of the western entertainment industry – Tennessee, Missouri, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Canada. Attending western art and gear vendors included: award winning bronze sculptor, John X. Geis, Idaho; Sagebrush Old West period clothing, Washington; Spirit Brothers Chain Saw Art; and many others.

The gathering got under way on Friday at high noon. Daytime showcase performances ran in twenty-minute segments, interspersed with two open mike sessions. A local cowboy poet’s group, the Columbia River Cowboy Heritage Society (CRCHS), sponsored one of the open mike sessions for local poets including CRCHS members: Keith K. Anderson, President; Larry Price, Vice President – Programs; Bill Douglas; and Clark Crouch, all of Washington. Crouch recently was successful in requesting the Governor of the State of Washington to issue a Proclamation proclaiming April 16 – 22, 2006 as Cowboy Poetry Week in Washington State.

Clark Crouch

Other entertainers that presented showcase performances included musicians: Howard Steele, Oregon; Sarah Gautschi, California; Bodie Dominquez, Washington; Juni Fisher, Tennessee; Eli Barsi, Missouri; Wayne Nelson, Idaho; Sharon Glenn and George Thomsen of the musical duo – Northfork; and Rod Erickson of Idaho. The sound system for the showcase was provided and operated by Bodie Dominguez.

Jane and Dick Morton

The poetry showcase included Dick Morton  & Jane Morton of Arizona/Colorado; A. Kathy Moss, Oregon; Smoke Wade, Idaho; Van Criddle, Oregon; and Charlie Camden, Idaho. Dick & Jane Morton both earned Silver Buckle Awards for their performances in the 2005 Cowboy Poetry Rodeo in Kanab, Utah. Jane is also an award-winning author. Her book, Cowboy Poetry: Turning To Face The Wind, has received several awards including the Will Rogers Medallion Award.

Van Criddle

After a delightful dinner catered by, Rhonda’s Old Town Restaurant of Oregon, the evening show got under way at 7:00 p.m. with Ed Dailey acting as emcee. A pre-show was presented by Zac Grooms and his band, Unwound, from Oregon.

Following Zac Grooms was a special presentation by 18-year-old songwriter, Sarah Gautschi. Sarah came from California to showcase her music on the day sessions. After impressing the organizers with her talent, she was invited to open the evening shows both Friday and Saturday night. Singing a mix of her original songs and traditional country favorites, Sarah delighted the audience and became a crowd favorite. Her poise and presentation was equal to a performer with twice her years of experience. She truly was the "Rising Star" of the Columbia River Gathering.

The Friday evening show continued with Wayne Nelson, known for his poem, "Snowville." Wayne is perhaps the most progressive songwriter in Idaho. Eli Barsi, Smoke Wade, Rod Erickson, A. K. Moss, Juni Fisher, Tennessee, and headliner, Joni Harms, Oregon, followed Wayne. A. K. Moss was flawless in her presentation of original poetry. When she performs, one can literally hear a pin drop in the auditorium. Rod Erickson has yodeled his way across the hearts of generations, and his performance, as always, was exceptional.

Kathy and Tracy Moss

Eli Barsi, award winning songwriter and yodeler, presented a crowd-pleasing performance. Originally from Canada, Eli is fast becoming one of America’s favorite singing cowgirls. She performed with ambitious passion, drawing the audience into her music with the extended range of her voice. Her "million-dollar" smile added grace and pleasure to her wonderful music. Eli was the AWA 2002 Female Vocalist of the year.

Juni Fisher’s performance was awe-inspiring. Juni’s music is fresh, original and authentic, truly deserving of the many awards bestowed upon her. Her songs reach into the heart and soul, as her music brings alive the western way of life. And, for a few moments, the listener feels and lives the experience. Her music was real and sincere – the stuff those Western Music Legends are made of. Juni most recently was awarded the 2005 AWA Western Female Vocalist of the Year, as well as the 2005 WMA Crescendo Award.

Juni Fisher, Smoke Wade, and Eli Barsi

Headliner, Joni Harms, Oregon, was accompanied by her children, Olivia and Luke. Joni, a super star in the western music genre, easily connected with the audience. Perhaps her popularity is due to the awards she has won including the 2003 AWA Female Vocalist of the Year, the 2003 WMA Song of the Year and the 2002 AWA Entertainer of the Year. Or it could be her award winning album, Let’s Put The Western Back In The Country (Wildcatter Records) that contributes to her crowd-pleasing success. Joni’s performance was exceptional and the songs by Olivia and Luke were delightful. Joni is an authentic cowgirl, and has also made appearances on the Grand Ole Opry and New York City’s, Carnegie hall.

Smoke Wade was presented with the Top Hand award for extra effort in helping the Columbia River Gathering a success. The trophy, presented by Ed Dailey, was accompanied by a poem, "Smoke Wade," written and recited by Clark Crouch.

After the Friday night concert, a Cowboy Dance was presented featuring the music of Zac Grooms and his band, Unwound.

The Saturday Showcase sessions were from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. A special open mike session was hosted by the Columbia River Cowboy Heritage Society from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Several performers presented notable performances. Howard Steele presented old time cowboy songs about Oregon. Authentic cowgirl and cowboy duo, Sharon Glenn and George Thomsen of Northfork, presented delightful cowboy songs. Van Criddle, poet, recently was successful in obtaining a proclamation from the Governor or Oregon, proclaiming April 16-22, 2006 as Cowboy Poetry Week In Oregon.

A special performance was presented through out the day by Pistol Packin' Paula of Texas. Paula is a well-known stuntwoman that uses two authentic .45 Cimarron revolvers in her act. She also got the attention of the audience with bullwhip tricks as well as some fancy pistol twirling stunts. Paula has appeared on Good Morning America, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

The Saturday night show got underway at 6:00 p.m. with a pre-show by Zac Grooms. Sarah Gautschi and Joni Harms opened the show followed by Wayne Nelson; Smoke Wade; Headliner - Lacy J Dalton, Nevada; Clark Crouch; A. K. Moss; Juni Fisher and Eli Barsi.

Lacy J Dalton’s performance was an amazing combination of energy, uniqueness, and originality that brought the audience to their feet for two standing ovations. Lacy J, known for over 20 county hits, is now performing western music as well. One of her recent songs, "Slip Away," from her CD, The Last Wild Place, hit #1 single on the Country World Independent Chart and remained there for over a month. Two members of her band, Craig Owens, bass guitar, and James Lewin, acoustic guitar, accompanied her - both from California. Currently, Lacy J Dalton is helping the Let ‘Em Run Foundation, Inc. get started with her donations of time and money. The foundation is for the continued protection of wild horses.

Once again, Zac Grooms and band presented a cowboy dance after the evening show was over. Several of the musicians started a late night jam session at the Crow’s Nest Lounge in the Clover Island Hotel that went until the wee hours of the morning.

At 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning, the cowboy entertainers performed on a live radio show hosted by Ed Dailey on KORD FM 102.7. Following the radio broadcast, Ed Dailey hosted a cowboy church. In addition to the weekend’s cast of performers, musicians, Jeff Colson & Jerry Voorhies, Washington, Budd Massengale, and Ed Dailey gave special presentations.

After the church was over, the cowboy poets and musicians said good-bye to each other, promising to meet again at a gathering somewhere down the trail. Or perhaps, next year, again, for the 4th Annual Columbia River Cowboy Gathering to be held April 13 – 15, 2007 at the Benton county Fairgrounds in Kennewick, Washington.

April, 2006
Piper's Opera House fundraiser  
Virginia City, Nevada  Celebrating Cowboy Poetry Week

Reports by Dave P. Fisher and Harold Roy Miller

  From Dave P. Fisher:

Piper's Opera House, spearheaded by Executive Director, Margo Memmott, along with Andy Miller of the Sierra Express Band, organized a pre-season fund raiser for renovation work on the grand old opera house.  It was decided to combine the event with a tribute to Cowboy Poetry Week. The event went off well and all involved had a good time.  There wasn't a bad act in the house.

Piper's has been standing on its present location since 1885.  The interior, stage, dignitary boxes, and woodwork are original from that date. To be on that stage is an honor in itself.  The performer stands in the tracks of Mark Twain, Bill Cody, Maude Adams, and a host of other legendary performers who at one or multiple times have performed on Piper's stage. Virginia City and the Comstock represent some of the greatest history in the settling of the West, and Piper's Opera House played a significant role in that development.

Each performer put on an hour-long program.  Performers for the event included:  Cowboy poet and western storyteller
Dave P. Fisher, cowboy poets Harold Roy Miller and Diane Miller, John Denver impersonator Steve Kern, the Red Rose Band, Nevada Rain Bluegrass Band, and capping the event was the Sierra Express Band.

Dave P. Fisher wrote a poem entitled "The Grand Lady" specifically for the event.  He opened his program with this poem.  The poem was donated to the Opera House and will continue to be sold in its gift shop with all proceeds going to the renovation work.

Dave P. Fisher


  From Harold Roy Miller:

In celebration of Cowboy Poetry Week, cowboy poetry was performed at a fundraiser to continue the restoration of Piper's Opera House in Virginia City on Saturday, April 15.  The Opera House was first built in the mid-1800's.

Two cowboy poets performed along with bluegrass, cowboy and rock bands, an opera singer and a ragtime piano player featuring songs popular around the turn of the century.  Cowboy poets
Dave P. Fisher and Harold Roy Miller performed.  Sharing Harold's slot was his reciting wife Diana and Steve Kern, a John Denver look-alike who performed several of John Denver's songs as well as his own.

The Nevada Appeal had a nice write-up about the event.

photo by Arlene Wolfe of Lake Tahoe, California
Steve Kern ("Little John"), Harold Miller (seated) and Diana Miller 

April, 2006
19th Annual St. Anthony Cowboy Poetry Gathering
   St. Anthony, Idaho

report by Bobbie Hunter

The 19th Annual St. Anthony Cowboy Poetry Gathering was presented April 14-15, 2006, to appreciative and enthusiastic audiences.  The crowds came in droves to pack the Roxy Theater for both the Friday and the Saturday night
shows. There is nothing better to spur the best in a cowboy poet or musician than a full house of receptive, kindred spirits!

The event was organized by Layle Bagley, Harry Halkar, Rand Hillman, Richard Huntsman, Gordon Peterson, Cleve Rice, Wes Robinson, and John Tanner--the Executive Committee. These men really know how to put a show together!

Poetry flowed like a mountain stream, and music echoed from the rafters. Harmonicas, guitars, basses, mandolins, an accordion, and even a wash board spilled their notes, mingling melodically to the delight of Western music fans.  During a break, Becky Nelson (Idaho) demonstrated her talent with spoons--a technique she displayed with flare and style.  Musical groups included Bad Water Cattle Co. (Gene and Sandy Jones of Idaho); Granny and Friends (Bob Butler, Faye Davies, Pete and Parceil Valora of Idaho); Fall River Boys (Rand Hillman and Mark Seeley of Idaho); Linda and Carol (Linda Merrill and Carol Findlay of Idaho); Muench Family (Idaho); Chuck and Pearl Rawson (Idaho); and Wyoming Red (Rusty Endecott and Susan Park of Wyoming). Recitations, humorous or serious, and harmonious melodies volleyed for recognition, each sharing the limelight in turn.

Speaking of taking turns...John Westbrook (Montana), accompanied by
Larry Gibson (Montana), shared their well-known and rousing rendition of "Ghost Riders in the Sky." That in itself was enough to get everyone's blood pumping, but later the audience was treated to an alternate version by the Fall River Boys entitled "Ghost Chickens in the Sky." Can you imagine a herd of cattle stampeding thunderously, amid which a flock of chickens runs on the loose?  Snot blowin', steam risin', feathers flyin', eggs hurlin'!  The visual image is enough to make a cowboy cower!

An unexpected visitor was Melanie Conner, a reporter from the New York Times.  Melanie spent two full days and nights interviewing many of the performers.  Now and then she'd put down her pencil long enough to pick up a camera, taking nearly a jillion pictures--photographing people and objects from every conceivable angle.  A slide show of her work can be accessed at

It was encouraging to see that many youth performers are honing their skills, eager to enter the world of Cowboy Poetry.  To help in this movement, workshops were offered by Denise McRea (Montana) and Wayne Nelson (Idaho). Denise shared her expertise with regard to poetry while Wayne imparted pointers to help the budding musician.  The poetry workshop covered such topics as rhyme, meter, and building a word bank.  The class was as interesting as it was informative--sure to be a help to the beginning poet. And Wayne (a teacher at heart) was eager to coach those who sought instruction in musical matters.  It is the hope of CPI that workshops of this nature can be offered twice a year, free of charge, in order to promote interest and increase the skill level of the younger performers.

Over sixty poets and musicians attended St. Anthony, presenting something of a challenge to ensure that all would have ample time to share their talents. It is a sign of success when so many performers flock to a gathering.  Many
traveled from out-of-state in order to join the fun.  The St. Anthony gathering drew entertainers from Utah, Washington, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, and Canada. Friday night performers included: Chuck and Pearl Rawson, Dean Wadsworth,
Larry Gibson, Barbara Hall, Don Kennington, Bill Chiles, Keven Inman, Gary (Ferg) Fergusen, Sam DeLeeuw, Denise McRea, Sam Mattise, Linda Merrill and Carol Findlay, Bob Jackson, Layle Bagley, and Wyoming Red. Susan Park and Rusty Endecott spent Saturday recording--be on the watch for their new work.

Saturday night artists were: Colt Angell, John Westbrook, Phil Kennington,
Colen Sweeten, Rees Butikofer, Dave Tingey, Mike Burns, Ellie Corrigan Johnson, Bad Water Cattle Co., Ken Wellard, Gordon Peterson, Wayne Nelson, Oral Elser, and the Fall River Boys.

It was a special treat to have
Colen Sweeten at the gathering.  He is well-known for the quality of his poetry, his example, and his long-standing contribution to the movement of cowboy poetry.  He is a 2005 recipient of the Idaho State Historical Society's Esto Perpetua award--an auspicious honor, indeed!

Election of officers was accomplished on Saturday morning; a new president, vice-president, and secretary/treasurer were named. Linda Merrill (Idaho) will take over the reins as president, relieving Gene and Sandy Jones (Idaho) of their role of the past two years. Denise McRea (Montana) will assume the duties of vice-president, taking over from Linda Merrill.  The secretary/treasurer spot will be shared by Gordon Peterson and his wife (Idaho), picking up where Becky Nelson left off.  Hearty congratulations to the new officers, and a resounding echo of thanks to the out-going group who completed their duties so well.

Several awards were presented at the Saturday night show: the Silver Quill award was earned by Denise McRea; the Golden Note award was presented to
Larry Gibson; and Wayne Nelson (Idaho) was the recipient of the Hall of Fame award.  Each of these performers is well-deserving and has earned recognition by consistently offering material of the highest quality. It is especially noteworthy that Wayne Nelson has won all three of the above mentioned awards--quite a feather in his cap!

The green room over-flowed with camaraderie, expanded exponentially by large quantities of delicious food!  It was in the green room that friendships were renewed, spirits were refreshed, and stomachs were filled with an abundance of good eats!  And oh, those cakes and cookies! In addition to providing a venue for the cowboy poets and musicians, St. Anthony affords an opportunity for the good cooks of the area to show off their culinary skills--their efforts were much appreciated, and devoured with great gusto!

The cooperative efforts of many people came into play at St. Anthony.  In spite of the fact that not everyone's name can be mentioned in this article, each person's contribution was appreciated.  It took the hard work of everyone to make the show a success, and what a success it was!

The 19th Annual St. Anthony Cowboy Poetry Gathering provided the best possible opportunity to strengthen the bond and continue the tradition. With great anticipation we will all look forward to next year's gathering. See ya at the Roxy!

May, 2006
Dakota Cowboy Heritage Festival  near Kimball and Pukwana, South Dakota

story and photos by Yvonne Hollenbeck 

The first annual Dakota Cowboy Heritage Festival was held May 6 and 7, 2006 at the Ashley Arena between Kimball and Pukwana, South Dakota, and was deemed a great success.  

Concessions were found at the festival chuckwagons

Among the many activities were cowboy mounted shooting, team penning, sanctioned barrel racing, fast draw competition, horseshoe tournament, cowboy church services, sheep dog demos, and a wonderful cowboy school for young and old alike presented by Swanson Cowboyography of Canton, South Dakota.  Everything cowboy was presented at this festival, including booths of all types of western items and giftware.

Scott Bartlett of Burke, South Dakota,
in the mounted shooting competition

Perhaps the most successful events were the two performances of cowboy poetry and western music.  Many in attendance were hearing this type of entertainment for the first time and returned for the second performance and were certainly spreading the word as many brought friends on their return trip.  

Cowboy poets and singers: Wally Bazyn, Kenny Konechne, Gale
Patzlaff, Yvonne Hollenbeck, and Leonard Larson.

Entertaining were popular entertainers from the area including western singer Wally Bazyn of Valentine, Nebraska; hometown Kenny Konechne who had some good poems about local cowboys; Gale Patzlaff, a rancher and cowboy poet from Alexandria, South Dakota; rancher and chuck wagon builder from Mitchell, South Dakota, Leonard Larson; and Yvonne Hollenbeck, a Clearfield South Dakota ranchwife.

Because of the success of this first festival, plans are already underway for the second annual event to be held the first weekend in May, 2007.  For more information, contact the Ashley's at 605-778-6885.

June 2006
The Canadian Rockies Cowboy Festival   Nordegg, Alberta

  story and photo by Mike Puhallo  

The Canadian Rockies Cowboy Festival, June 2, 3 & 4 2006

A weekend of great entertainment and once-in-a-lifetime moments, in a superb location.

When you pull together a cast of rising stars and living legends, sprinkle in a few good cowboy poets and use one of the most spectacular areas of the Canadian Rockies as your back drop... you can't help but create a weekend full to the brim with memories to cherish for a lifetime!

The entertainment lineup for the inaugural Canadian Rockies Cowboy Festival, included folk and country music legend Gary Fjellgaard and Canada's next country superstar; Brett Kissel, as well as The Allen Christie Band, Tim Hus, Tom Phillips and The Men of Constant Sorrow, Canadian Rodeo Legend Ivan Daines and three of Canada's best known cowboy poets,
Doris Daley, Terri Mason and Mike Puhallo. In addition to stage shows throughout the weekend there was a big beef barbeque followed by a dance each night hosted by "The Three Musty Steers."

The mainstage performances at the outdoor amphitheatre Friday evening was beset by blustery weather but that did not deter the audience or prevent the entertainers from putting on a first class show. After the stage show we filed through the trees twenty five yards or so to The Belle Dome, ( a really big tent) where "The Three Musty Steers" and a steady rotation of mainstage performers kept the dance floor bouncing until the wee hours of the morning!

Saturday's mainstage performances ran from ten in the morning until ten at night, with each musician doing two forty-five minute sets and the poets filling in the breaks. In my opinion and judging from the enthusiasm shown by the audience it was a magnificent day. The weather was perfect, the sound was absolutely awesome, the music and poetry was first rate and the view of the mountains behind the stage was priceless.

Without a doubt the highlight of the weekend for me, was about nine o'clock Saturday evening when Gary Fjellgaard wandered out on stage to join Brett Kissel in a duet of a couple of Gary's songs. They had recorded a duet together on Brett's CD last winter but this was the first time they had ever had a chance to perform together on stage! It was a truly unforgettable experience that everyone lucky enough to be present will cherish!


Canadian Folk Legend Gary Fjellgaard joins sixteen year old rising star Brett Kissell on stage for a couple of duets, at the Canadian Rockies Cowboy Festival.  Gary and Brett had recorded one  song together on Brett's last album, but this was the first time they had every performed together in public. The result was a standing ovation from a very appreciative audience.

The Saturday night dance was a lively affair with musicians once again jumping in to back up the band and I'm sure Terri Mason danced with every man there! After the dance wound down most of the entertainers gathered at the motel for a jam session that ran until daybreak.... You know some of them boys and girls can pick just a little!

In spite of their lack of sleep most of the entertainers where back at mainstage by eleven to participate in a very enjoyable Cowboy Church Service. Although most of them were a little late for the Cowboy Breakfast of eggs, bacon, hotcakes and beans, rumoured to be the best breakfast in the Rockies.

The final performance Sunday featured the superb sounds of Tom Phillips and The Men of Constant Sorrow, Allen Christie and Hillbilly Dust, Gary Fjellgaard and of course Mike Puhallo's poetry in a very fitting wind up to a great weekend.

For a first time event, the Canadian Rockies Cowboy Festival was very well organised, resort owners Ron and Wendy Killick and their event manager Carmen seemed to be on the job twenty four hours a day. Ron and Wendy were on the grill and pouring cowboy coffee at the breakfast Saturday and Sunday mornings. At the steak Bar-B-Q. Saturday night, Ron personally grilled each guest's steak to perfection while his wife and partner Wendy kept every thing flowing smoothly. They were very gracious hosts who take a "hands on" approach to make sure everything went smoothly for entertainers and fans alike. This was their first Cowboy Festival, but they have been practicing for several years by hosting a big Bluegrass Festival every year on the fourth weekend in June.

The David Thompson Resort is located about one hours drive north of Lake Louise or a couple hours west of Red Deer, Alberta depending on which route you choose. The Helicopter outfit that gives tours of the Columbia Ice Fields is right next door and there is a trail ride outfit right across the road so there are all kinds of activities and opportunities available to round out your stay and turn it into a real vacation.

Plans are already under way and some of the acts have been booked for next years event June 1, 2, & 3 2007. Most of the folks who attended this year booked their campsites and motel rooms for next year before they left, so we darn sure have to do it again!

There is plenty of camping on site as well as motel packages available for those that book early. All you need to bring is a few friends, your lawn chairs and a cowboy state of mind, we've got the rest of it covered!

Presented by David Thompson Resort and Twilight Ranch Productions

For complete information and reservations

just visit our website email

Phone toll free 1-888-810-2103 or Ph 403-721-2103 fax 403-721-2267

June, 2006
A Night On The Snake River Plains 
Rupert, Idaho


Report and photos by Smoke Wade 

2nd Annual Night on the Snake River Plains

For the second consecutive year, cowboy poets and musicians came forth on June 10, 2006, to present a fund-raiser cowboy show for the historic Wilson Theater in Rupert, Idaho.

The Renaissance Art Center, Inc. has slowly been restoring the 1920's era Wilson Theater in Rupert, Idaho through a series of fund-raisers. The Wilson has been the event center for the annual Mini-Cassia Snake River Valley Cowboy Poetry Gathering held in November for the last few years. The most recent event was billed as the 2nd Annual Night on the Snake River Plains and featured cowboy poetry and music.

After a welcome by Earl Corless of the Renaissance Art Center, the show got under way with cowboy poet and emcee for the event, Smoke Wade of Idaho. The featured musicians included Larry Gibson, Montana; Wayne Nelson, Idaho; and Mike Burns, Alberta, Canada.  

Wayne Nelson, Larry Gibson, Mike Burns, and Smoke Wade

Larry Gibson, host of the Townsend, Montana cowboy gathering presented a selection of favorite western songs as well as his original work. Dressed in his fancy gunfighter clothes, Gibson challenged Smoke Wade to a poetry duel. The two cowboy poets presented a poetry duet of Silver Bells and Golden Spurs. Gibson recited the Dandy Ran's lines complete with a chain of silver bells on his checkered vest, while Wade, with his golden spurs, recited the stranger's lines.

To the delight of the near capacity audience, Mike Burns crooned old time cowboy ballads and poetry. It was the first appearance for Burns in Rupert, and the audience stood in line to purchase his CD's. Mike is a multi-talented performer, playing standup bass, guitar, harmonica as well as reciting poetry and telling stories. Mike is also know for his cowboy gospel presentations and he is secretary/treasurer for the Alberta Cowboy Poets Association.

Local favorite, poet and musician, Wayne Nelson presented is own brand of songs, music and poetry about the Snake River Plains. Nelson is the only person to win the Silver Quill, Golden Note and Hall of Fame award from the Cowboy Poets of Idaho. The awards are presented annually for excellence in poetry and music. Wayne Nelson is best known for his poem Snowville, a soon to be classic about an albino bull and a black rodeo clown.

The show ended with all the performers on stage singing Red River Valley, while the audience responded with a closing standing ovation.

During intermission and after the show, the performers greeted the audience in the lobby for autographs and CD sales. When the crowd had dispersed and the sound system was packed away, the group of performers gathered at a local restaurant for a late night dinner and cowboy talk. In the wee hours of the morning, the group bade their farewells, promising to meet again soon - somewhere down the cowboy poetry trail.


June, 2006
10th Annual Echoes of the Trail Cowboy Gathering and Celebration of the West 
Fort Scott, Kansas

Report by Judy Howser; see our feature about this event here


The 10th anniversary of Echoes of the Trail was a success. At the Friday night, June 9th kickoff, Co-founder Johnny Kendrick crooned the "Echoes of the Trail" theme song he wrote and entertained with old cowboy tunes. Then Jim Hoy  amazed the audience with his knowledge of Kansas history as he set the story straight about cowboy myths and legends and entertained with authentic cowboy tunes. We are grateful to the Kansas Humanities Council for helping to fund Jim's performance. We've invited him back to open our 2007 event, which is scheduled for June 8 - 10, 2007. After Hoy's performance, Johnny invited other Echoes performers from the audience to give a taste of what was to come Saturday.  
Saturday, June 10th, 20 cowboy poets and musicians, plus the chuck wagon cooks, all from the "four-states" kept the audiences laughing and sighing as they spouted their original and traditional lines and belted out cowboy music on two stages. They included Gerry Allen, Gail Burton, Harold Carpenter, Wanda Cothren, Richard Dunlap, D. J. Fry, Cody and Dawnelle Holmes, John Hybsha, Jim John, Jay Jones, Joe Lester, Ken Lorton,  Ron Ratliff, Abe Reddekopp, Cliff Sexton, Delbert Shields, Neal Torrey, Leroy Watts, and Jake White.
In addition to Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, fans came from as far away as Alaska, Hawaii, Alabama, and Tennessee as well as the states of Washington, Utah, Colorado, Texas, Iowa, and Arizona.  Some found "no room at the inn," and had to stay in neighboring towns. 
The Echoes of the Trail committee is grateful to the Missouri Cowboy Poets Association, to which most of the poets belong. Fort Scott Community College here in Kansas again graciously provided the Academic Building and grounds for the event, along with a most helpful maintenance person, and plenty of other pre-gathering support. Our Bourbon County Arts Council helped with performer honoraria, and the Best Western Fort Scott Inn donated some of the performer lodging. Margo Metregano of has been more than generous with web pages about Echoes of the Trail, and we are thankful for that. The list of other local donors is long, and the event wouldn't be possible without their support in addition to the volunteers who sold tickets, CDs, books, and mugs, and even spelled the vendors while they took breaks or got up on stage.
The grassy area under the big Sycamore tree was again the camp grounds for restored chuck wagons of Denny Williams, Neosho, MO, Don Collop, Rutledge, MO, and Kenny Gordon, Oregon, MO. The cookies and their faithful helpers dug pits in the ground and cooked up turkey, beef pot pies, beans and ham, and cobblers in Dutch ovens over the coals. The first 150 people in line enjoyed a hearty lunch, while late-comers were disappointed! Cookies are thinking of offering smaller servings next year, or maybe just samples! Sunday morning, no one went hungry as the cookies served up a hearty scrambled eggs and biscuits and gravy meal after Cowboy Church. As usual, the Good Lord stopped the rain until church was over, then sent us scampering for cover after we filled our plates!
On Saturday, Buck Rowland of Arma, Kan. showed off five tables of tack, chaps, and other cowboy gear, while Shirley Willis of Colcord, Okla. displayed huge cases of silver and turquoise jewelry. Ken Lorton of Warsaw, Mo. not only demonstrated his deer hide braiding; he got up on the stage and did a great job of reciting cowboy poetry! Joe and Kathy Lester of Kansas, Okla. had their usual array of hand tooled leather, spur leathers, beaded items, decorative pottery, wild rags, and everything cowboy. Joe did triple duty this year, as a vendor and one of our cowboy singers as usual, and as our auctioneer ... a surprise to everyone! New to Echoes this year was John Sheehan of Coventry Leather in Wichita. Not only did John display a fine array of wallets, belts, and other fine leather goods; he sold fine palm leaf hats as well!
Duane Feighner of LaCygne, Kan. showed off and played his new Indian flutes along with the old, seasoned ones, and sold his new CD, too. His artist friend Frances Colvin displayed her oil paintings as well. Artist Marilyn Cukjati of Franklin, Kan. displayed her fine equine and southwestern paintings, prints, and note cards for the first time at Echoes. The local Country Cupboard store displayed their western items at Echoes in addition to selling tickets prior to the event. Everyone enjoyed bidding on silent auction items, which included goods donated by local artists, an antique shop, bed and breakfast, and gifts from our generous craftspeople.
Ellen Kendrick, the wife of our co-founder, and their son Sam served scrumptious home made cobblers, cakes, and nut breads and gave "unlimited" coffee refills to buyers of the commemorative Echoes of the Trail mugs. Ellen, an accomplished photographer who teaches art at Fort Scott High School, also doubled as the judge for our first 4-H / FFA metal art competition.
Saturday night,  under the auspices of Echoes co-founder Arnold Schofield, the first annual auction of metal work of local 4-H and FFA high school students earned sizeable checks for the students and decorative as well as useful items for the buyers. In the contest, Kyli Harvey of Fort Scott took first place, Austin Schofield of Fort Scott took second and third, and Jered Snyder of Fort Scott took fourth. In addition to 80% of the auction proceeds, the young people received cash prizes ranging from $100 for first place to $25 for fourth.
Each year, something serendipitous occurs during our gathering, and this year it was the appearance of a Dr. R.W. Stockton from Prairie Village, Kan. delivering the book Cowboy Poetry: The Campfire Ain't Quite Out to me, written and autographed by his son, Dr. Kent Stockton of Riverton, Wyoming. Kent and I have been corresponding for some time, because he headed up the Wyoming Cowboy Poetry Gathering" in Riverton for years, and is a great source of advice. Coincidentally, our Master of Ceremonies, Gary Wimmer of Fulton, Kan. is living in Kent's Grandma Delano's home place, so the elder Stockton had much history to share with Gary. Kent says he has many happy childhood memories of that home, and he's glad the Wimmers are taking such loving care of it. To add to the "small world" coincidences, Kent tells me one of our cowboy poets, Neal Torrey of Bolivar, Mo., worked for his Teton County Sheriff son-in-law in Jackson Hole many years ago. Neal bases many of his epic poems on his experiences there, riding the canyons for the law, just like in the old westerns. By the way, I'm halfway through Kent's book, and I highly recommend it.
Be on the lookout for, our new web site presently under construction! By next year, it will be the place to go for the latest information on our event, photos from the past, samples of our poets' work, and much more.

June, 2006
Grand Ball of 1864  Virginia City, Montana

Report and photos by Paul Kern

The Grand Ball of 1864 (June) and the Grand Ball of Peace (August) were well attended this past summer in Virginia City.  Both balls were sold out. Special guests at the Grand Balls were soldiers and officers of the Second Calvary, which was the unit posted in Montana Territory in the 1860s. Mistress TJ Wald offered lessons in period dances in the afternoon and then precepted both Grand Balls.  Each ball commenced with a Boardwalk Promenade and Grand March.  At the August Ball, Tom Sargeant was honored as the founder and patron of the Grand Balls. Paul Kern recited his poem "Under a Montana Moon," which was inspired by the event. 

Paul Kern

The music, as always, was provided by Professor Sandy James and his James Family Fiddlers from Dillon. A collection of period quilts adorned the walls of the dance hall. The lavish hoop gowns are becoming more exquisite each year as the Virginia City Ball becomes the premier ball of the West.

(Dates for 2007 are June 23 and August 18)

[Editor's note: Ranchers TJ and Nate Wald of Lodge Grass, Montana, are the pictured riders in Joelle Smith's painting, "Heading Home," which was the official poster for Cowboy Poetry Week, 2006, the cover art for The BAR-D Roundup CD, and an Art Spur subject. T. J. Wald is a Vintage Dance Mistress. She teaches and she manages the annual Grand Ball of 1876 in Hardin, Montana, and the 1864 Grand Ball in Virginia City, Montana, and other Vintage Dance Events.  

Read Paul Kern's poem, "Under a Montana Moon" here and see more of his photos.]


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