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(Some links may be out of date.)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

July - September



Monasterevin (Ireland) July

Spearfish (South Daktoa) July

Sevier (Utah) July  separate page

New Underwood (South Dakota) July

Salinas (California) July  separate page

Estancia (New Mexico) July  separate page

Virginia City (Montana) August separate page

Creswell (Oregon) August  separate page

Reno (Nevada) August

Shingletown (California) August  separate page

Virginia City (Montana) August

Wet Mountain Western Days (Colorado) September

Ketchum (Idaho) September  separate page

Enterprise (Oregon) September separate page

Custer (South Dakota) September separate page

Hot Springs (South Dakota) September separate page

Pullman (Washington) September separate page

Vinton (California) September  separate page

Richardson (Texas) September separate page


See January-March reports here
See April-June 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 . . .


July, 2006
Whispers of the West  Monasterevin, Ireland

story by Catherine Lilbit Devine 


Sing Us a Song, Cowboy!

Whispers of the West
G. Casey Allen ~ Catherine Lilbit Devine ~ Debra Coppinger Hill ~ Jeff Streeby

Whispers of the West has made our second journey to the Emerald Isle in July, 2006 to perform our Music and Poetry which vividly brings to life the culture and heritage of the American West. From Chicago to Monasterevin, it would seem that we drew attention no matter what we were doing. I sometimes wonder what it is that makes the Cowboy so vibrant to so many different

In Chicago, as we waited for our flight to Shannon, most conversations started with "I thought there were no more Cowboys." or  "Nice hat, can I try it on?" Boarding the Queen of the Arans ferry that would take us to Inis Mor, the Captain and crew all announced, in booming voice, "COWBOYS! They've come back!"  Somewhere in Japan, there is a group of people telling their family and friends about the Cowboys who sang for them while they ate lunch, in a small cottage on Inis Mor. No matter the town or village, a stroll down the sidewalk would guarantee us numerous drive-by Yee-haws and Yahoos, as well as queries of "are you from Texas?" and "where did you park your horse?" Any time we ventured into a pub, all conversation would stop for a
moment, as the other patrons stopped to size us up. Inevitably, it would be the man with the most pints down who would loudly exclaim "John Wayne!" or "J.R. Ewing!" It would seem that the mythic west is alive and well in celluloid and reruns.

There was the deep connection of music to be celebrated, as well. As we performed and lectured across Ireland, we took notice of the powerful draw that our music and poetry had on people from all nationalities, Irish, Japanese, Polish, Korean, Czech, French, British, Sicilian and a myriad of
others that would be impossible to list here. The first of course was the Japanese tour group on Inis Mor, who were quite surprised to find Cowboys sitting in the parlor of Man of Aran Cottage playing a guitar and singing, "Please, to play for us" came the polite request. Fifteen minutes of Cowboy songs and Casey's signature "Hooty" brought delight not only to the Japanese tourists but to us, as we noticed their enthusiasm for the songs and smiled as they all walked out to board the bus "yodeling" the Casey way, "Hooty, Hooty, Hooty, Hooooo." Then there was the small, impromptu session at our rented cottage, Abbeyview, in Ballybrittas, to which we invited our hosts
and a "few" of their friends. At ten o'clock on a Wednesday evening, people began arriving and the influx never truly stopped. We had a Bass player, Banjo player, guitarist, key board player and a delightful man who brought bongos and a penny whistle, but christened my as yet played Bodhran. Did they come to play traditional music? Most assuredly they had and did. However, they were also unabashed in their rendition of such American songs as "Kansas City," "City of New Orleans." and a medley of silver screen era western songs. Our last night in Monasterevin found us saying our good-byes to the other Gerard Manley Hopkins Summers Session attendees. There were
moments to treasure as Casey patiently taught one of the Japanese participants to sing "Streets of Laredo." The director, Desmond Egan, sang "Bard of Armagh" in traditional a cappella style and Jeff's solo of "Green Grow the Rushes" became an impromptu harmony of international voices on the final chorus.

However, it was the children and their reactions, which stuck with us as we traveled. From the small girl, who almost fell down the stairs as she was backing up to stare at Jeff & Debra at a coffee shop in Galway, to the small boy, in Roundstone, who walked off a curb while gawking at the cowboys, it was their words and the looks on their faces we quoted and described most often. "Hello Cowboy Man!" the small girl said to Jeff as she noticed him sitting just inside the door. Then, more incredulous, "Oh! Hello Cowboy Woman!" as she realized Debra was sitting there, as well. A tip of the hat to the quick wit of the mother in Roundstone who, as we rushed to assist her
child, set him on his feet; dusted him off and said, with a wink, "There now, you're alright! I told you to keep that whiskey bottle out from under your pillow!" God Bless the small four-year old boy, blissfully unaware of the rules of etiquette, in Roscommon, who, weary of hearing poetry, said in
a stage whisper "Sing us a song, Cowboy! Please, just sing!"

Young or old, Cowboy or Sailor, Irish born or simply Irish raised, or a visitor from far distant lands, it was the common thread found in music and poem that bound us to one another. No matter the language in which it was sung or spoken, Irish, Sicilian, Japanese, French, English, a picture was
painted so vivid and real that you needed no translation. That is what we do with our Music and our Poems, we paint a picture of tradition, honor and life as a Cowboy.  We carry them from the campfires and hard trails to the Rodeos, Honky Tonks and travails of the modern Cowboy. In doing so, we forge another bond of friendship and familiarity that transcends cultures and makes strangers into a room full of family so diverse that the heart sings. So we shall take to heart the advice of a small Roscommon boy and continue to paint pictures with our songs, "Sing us a song, Cowboy! Please, just sing!"

2006,  Catherine Lilbit Devine 

July, 2006
High Plains Western Heritage Center National Day of the American Cowboy Celebration  
Spearfish, South Dakota

Report by Diane Tribitt, photos courtesy of the High Plains Western Heritage Center  

We all enjoyed the warmth (literally!), wit, and western welcome at the High Plains Western Heritage Center as they celebrated the National Day of the American Cowboy in Spearfish, South Dakota on July 22, 2006.

photo courtesy of the High Plains Western Heritage Center
George Blair, Peggy Ables, Doris Richter

The mayor kicked off the day with a proclamation of the National Day of the American Cowboy, followed by cowboy poet
Diane Tribitt (Hillman, Minnesota) as she entertained the crowd with her poem "What's It Take To Be A Cowboy."  Event
coordinator Peggy Ables did a wonderful job of showcasing the cowboy's way of life by having a variety of speakers, artists, poets, musicians and rodeo cowboys & cowgirls on hand in the museum's theatre.  Live honky-tonk piano
music was supplied by Ron Roberson of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Local ranchers went on stage to tell their ranching and branding stories.  Several poetry rounds and a campfire interview were supplied by Diane Tribitt and
Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns

photo courtesy of the High Plains Western Heritage Center
Diane Tribitt and Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns

The day ended with a campfire series as the audience was captivated by stories of the 1995 cattle drive from Ft. Worth, Texas to Miles City, Montana.

More on this event:

  National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Sunday aired a piece about the National Day of the Cowboy celebration planned by the High Plains Western Heritage Center in Spearfish, South Dakota. The report, titled "Nation Tips its Hat to the American Cowboy," is described, "Spearfish, S.D., is the center of all cowboy activities /history / memorabilia in a five-state region and is planning a celebration to commemorate the national 'Day of the Cowboy' later in the week. The focus will be the historic cattle drive trail from Texas to Montana. Ranchers whose families have been in these states for generations will attend." You can listen to the story here.


  An article in the Voice of America news, "Cowboys Celebrated in South Dakota," by Jim Kent, tells of the National Day of the Cowboy celebration at the High Plains Western Heritage Center in South Dakota. Center Director Peggy Ables is quoted about cowboy and randhing life, "The further you go into the West, the more obvious it becomes that it is a way of life that people can observe and appreciate." Read the article here, which is accompanied by sound files.

July,  2006
South Dakota Cowboy Poetry Writers Group 
New Underwood, South Dakota


         [photo of Slim McNaught by Jen Dobrowski]

Report, photos, and captions by Slim McNaught


July 2, 2006, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon found a gathering of cowboy poetry writers assembled in the
back yard at the home of Darlene and
Slim McNaught and Troy McNaught Westby of New Underwood, South Dakota. In attendance were Diane Tribitt from Hillman, Minnesota; Bob Moreland and John and Ruth Burton of Merriman, Nebraska; Yvonne Hollenbeck of Clearfield, South Dakota; Don Hilmer, and the McNaughts and Westby of New Underwood. 

Cowboy poetry writers group havin' a good time

The weather was perfect for this outdoor get-together, with balmy temperatures, mostly sunny skies, and a very few rain drops falling at one time during the afternoon. A table laden with snacks and drinks was enjoyed by all, and the conversations were festive. Although haying, working cattle, and other ranch chores limited the number attending, other meetings at less busy times will allow more writers to take part.

Darlene McNaught, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Bob Moreland enjoying some humor

The group discussed methods and publishers for getting their books published and out to the public. Some good ideas were shared among the poets. The theme for the meeting was "The Snubbing Post," and some
interesting poems inspired by that title were presented by some of the writers. The "Art Spur" page on's web site was discussed and some of the poems inspired by the picture of Jingle Bob
Dennis "Leading a Spare" were recited. The end of the afternoon came too soon, as everyone was having a very enjoyable time. The next meeting of the group will be announced at a later time, when a date can be found that fits between other meetings and work. 

Diane Tribbit with some good poetry

John and Ruth Burton, Troy McNaught-Westby reminiscing

A productive and enjoyable afternoon was had by all.

Troy McNaught-Westby, Don Hilmer listen to a recitation

For more information about the group and future meetings, contact: 

Slim McNaught     
Slim's Custom Leather
P.O. Box 274, 110 South Madison Ave.
New Underwood, SD 57761

August,  2006
Reno Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering  Reno, Nevada

Report and photo by Dave P. Fisher

(additional story further below by Donna Hatton)


The 1st Annual Reno Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering, held at the historic Bartley Ranch, proved to be a great success. Featured artists for the Friday August 11, 2006 program were Juni Fisher, Richard Elloyan, and Texas Tom Weatherby and Dennis Golden. Saturday's program featured Donna Hatton and Tom Hatton along with David John & The Comstock Cowboys.

The open mike session was well attended by some of Nevada and California's better known cowboy poets and musicians.  The session was organized by Dennis Golden and Tom Weatherby and they did a first rate job
of it.  The session ran smooth as silk thanks to Dennis and Tom's hosting and guiding.

Some of the performers at the open mike: Tony Argento, Jim Parsons, Harold Roy Miller, Dave P. Fisher, and Dennis Golden and Texas Tom Weatherby, who organized the open mike.

Poets in attendance included:  Jim Cardwell, John Silveira, Jim Parsons, Harold Roy Miller, Diana Miller, Tony Argento, and Dave P. Fisher, along with other musicians and newcomers to the art.  Dennis and Tom joined in with songs and poems as well.

A special treat for all involved was to have
Juni Fisher sit in and listen to the performers. Then, at the end of the session Juni came on stage and performed 45 minutes of the most beautiful singing and guitar playing you will ever hear anywhere.  For any who have never heard Juni perform do not miss the opportunity to do so.

Everyone had a great time meeting new friends and visiting with old friends.  It's the cowboy way, and in particular, the Nevada way that no one is a stranger for long. A warm handshake and a smile are quick to come. Plans are already in the works for 2007, could Reno's Gathering become the summer Elko?  We can all hope so.

  Report and photo by Donna Hatton  

Reno's First Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering

We haven't been home long from our trip to Reno, my clothes are still in the van and I haven't caught up on my sleep either, probably because the adrenaline is still pumping from all the fun we've had. Back in February we visited Elko for the gathering there and while sitting by another visitor we of course got to talking about our reasons for coming. Reaching into his pocket he handed me a flyer announcing the "First Annual Reno Cowboy Music and Poetry Festival." I thanked him and then stuck the flyer in my pocket where I rediscovered it when I went to do laundry. I decided to check it out.

Calling the number on the flyer I met a wonderfully gracious, thoughtful and charismatic young woman, Cheryl Park. Cheryl Park is a member of Soroptimist International and the Soroptimists were producing and hosting the festival and Cheryl was in charge of putting together the entertainment. We sent her our promo materials and filled out the application for being considered as performers and shortly found out we were accepted for the show in August.  Cheryl told me she was rather new to the Cowboy Music and Poetry scene, but had fallen in love with it and thought that Reno should have a Festival, I agreed, after all it is a renown center of Western culture and I told her we need more festivals to honor our western heritage everywhere! Working with Cheryl was a treat, she was ready for anything and willing to try everything, whatever would promote this Festival and the performers in it.  Before I forget, let me also tell you that the festival was a benefit for Soroptimist International of Reno, an organization that works with women and girls who have experienced hardships in their lives, it provides many services and educational opportunities to the community and I was more than excited to be helping to raise money for their scholarships.

I offered to write a theme song for the Festival and Cheryl and Soroptimist International started working to put together a compilation of the work of all of the performers coming to the festival. The project was completed and ready for sale by the time the festival rolled around and for those of us who have CD's we know that was no mean feat. The song "Coming Home To Reno " was given an honored spot, number one on the lineup, but all of the performers had at least three of their favorite pieces featured.

Our needs were covered wonderfully by the Soroptimists, from lodging to food, a green room fully stocked with a buffet complete with a chocolate volcano for dipping the huge delicious strawberries nestled amid the cheeses and cold cuts...we were all treated like royalty, in fact we were spoiled, truely performers have never had it so easy!

Cheryl and her crew worked tirelessly to bring our cowboy heritage to Reno and did a marvelous job. We had delightfully responsive audiences and great coverage from the media and two lovely evenings underneath those Nevada skies. For a first time event. it was a success and impressive with the organization and the outpouring of camaraderie, the Soroptimists, the citizens of Reno and the lovely setting the hidden gem called Barkley Park. All this from one little flyer and a vision from a group of women who gave it their all.

Cheryl Park is a friend to Cowboy Poetry and Music and it comes packaged in a tiny dynamo of a woman who is a lawyer for the Nevada Supreme Court. I would love to have dozens just like her, her and all of the ladies and their husbands, the sponsors, the sound men, the performers and the delightful John Tyson who is a local news man and celebrity. John was the emcee for the festival, a gifted western performer and vocalist in his own right and another dedicated cowboy and a true friend. Oh, by the way, just in case I didn't say it before, we had a wonderful time.

Cheryl Park, event coordinator and local news personality and emcee John Tyson.

Georgie Sicking receives the Spirit Award

August, 2006
Grand Ball of Peace  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.]

September, 2006
Wet Mountain Western Days
Westcliffe, Colorado

Report by Doris Daley, photos by Yvonne Hollenbeck

Perhaps no location more captures the spirit of a cowboy festival than Wet Mountain Western Days in Westcliffe, Colorado. Start with a superb sound system, a raised stage, a professional dance floor and a huge open-sided
tent. Pan out to a grassy ridge dotted with a children's village, mercantile tent and food vendors. Throw in a shopping lane featuring some of Colorado's finest cottage craftspeople. Add top notch entertainment ranging from bluegrass and western swing to cowboy poetry and a washtub. Best of all, fling the whole shebang up against the eastern face of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains-and you have the picture of Labor Day festival that matches some of today's best western entertainment with one of the best western event sites.

Westcliffe (population 350) is home base to the high energy bluegrass/western group, Sons and Brothers, comprised of father and sons Frank, Mike, Aaron and Joe Wolking. The Sons and Brothers hosted a weekend of entertainment that started Friday night with local duo Ken and Fran Hudson; Canadian cowboy poet
Doris Daley; the guitar and vocal music of Sugarfoot (Jerry and Sandy Brown, who bill their style as "sweet music for your feet" but it's sweet for your ears, too); and a paint-peeling, mountain-moving, train-stopping set by the dynamic Sons and Brothers.

Washtub Jerry, Doris Daley, Frank Wolking, Clover Carroll, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Sid Hausman, 
and Kit Simon (in front)

Featured entertainers at the festival included Colorado's sweetheart of the sage Liz Masterson, backed up by friends Washtub Jerry, Sid Hausman and Kit Simon. Also from Colorado, Jon Chandler and the Wichitones demonstrated why
they are widely regarded as the state's most exceptional performers of original and classic country music. Texas swing group Back at the Ranch, from Houston, delighted the crowd with their tight harmonies, slap-your-granny antics and toe-tapping arrangements. Kansas native Barry Ward's velvet baritone vocals rounded out the musical line-up.

The music at Wet Mountain Western Days was interspersed with cowboy poetry sets featuring
Yvonne Hollenbeck and Doris Daley. Yvonne also presented her quilt program, a journey through a century of prairie life featuring the quilts of five generations in Yvonne's family. Coincidentally, a quilt show hosted by the Westcliffe Quilting Guild ran throughout the weekend in town: a nice compliment to the festival in general and especially to Yvonne's thoughtful and moving presentation.

Clover Carroll and Matthew Menke (Back at the Ranch); Kit Simon (of the
Pickin' Parlor in Arvada); Frank Wolking, and Liz Masterson

Standing ovations were frequent as the crowds showed their appreciation for the great weekend of festival entertainment. Cowboy church, a fiddle contest, and salutes to ranching families, Native American culture and the Old West all made the 9th annual Wet Mountain Western Days a huge success.

With nine years of experience and talent behind them, the 10th annual Wet Mountain Western Days promises to be a barn burner. The mountains, the hospitality and the entertainment will all be there next year.  Plan to be there Labor Day weekend, 2007.

We invite you to send in reports about gatherings and other events.



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