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 Calendar. 

(Some links may be out of date.)

2007 Reports

October - December


This is page 1. Below:

Valentine (Nebraska) October

Ruidoso Downs (New Mexico) October


On  page 2:

Visalia (California) October

Emmett (Idaho) October

Merriman (Nebraska) October

Loomis (California) November

Chadron (Nebraska) November


On  page 3:

Heber City (Utah) November

Clearfield (South Dakota) December

Monterey (California) December  separate


See January-February 2007 reports here
See March-April 2007 reports here
See May-July 2007 reports here
See August-September reports here

See reports from 2006 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 . . .


October, 2007
16th Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days  Valentine, Nebraska

  report by Willard Hollopeter with photos by Bob Stetter

additional report and photos by Slim McNaught below.


Both the evening and the Saturday afternoon performances at the 16th annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days drew pretty good crowds, and beautiful fall weather.

There were 20 poets and musicians at the day sessions, probably about as many as we have ever had for the day sessions. The audience for those sessions was bigger, I think, than we have had.

It just keeps growing a little each year.

As a special treat for the audience, Yvonne Hollenbeck and Jean Prescott stopped on their way to a Wyoming gathering and did a couple songs and poems in a morning session.

Bob Stetter,  Ric Steinke and Linda Housler of Open Range, and Willard Hollopeter

Ric Steinke and Linda Housler of Open Range, from Livingston, Montana, and Deb Carpenter, from Bushnell, Nebraska, shared entertaining the elementary school kids.

Deb Carpenter

Other poets and musicians included Jack Ostergard, Geff Dawson, Palo Duro, Don Schauda, Glenn Ohrlin, and Elizabeth Ebert.

Elizabeth Ebert


Geff Dawson

Glenn Ohrlin

Don Schauda

I don’t have a report yet from the book, tape and CD table but it looked like those folks were busy selling.

Jack Ostergard

  report and photos by Slim McNaught
photo by Jen Dobrowski

additional report report by Willard Hollopeter with photos by Bob Stetter above


Sixteen years providing top quality cowboy poetry and music entertainment is a statistic to be proud of. With the combined effort of a whole lot of great folks, the 16th Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days held in Valentine, Nebraska, October 4-7, 2007, was a booming success. From the local merchants, volunteers, and members of the Old West Days committee, to the performers and visitors, who came from afar, everyone cowboy’d up to make this one of the most exciting events held so far. The poetry gathering and trade show is held in the Valentine High School facilities.

The gala event began with a tasty start at four o’clock Thursday afternoon when Subway, Young’s Western Wear, Pepsi and Rotary put on a street side Bar-B-Que that was enjoyed by many. These merchants put their efforts into this for the benefit of the Old West Days celebration. Then at seven thirty that evening the Valentine Players performed the hilarious Old Time Melodrama “The Veggi Villian,” or, “He Had a Steak in It.” This is "A Best of the West" entertainment venue, and folks come from far and near to take in this theatre production.

Friday, October 5th, started with vendors setting up their wares in the gymnasium. With entrepreneurs attending from several states, the shopping selection was a great place to pick up that item folks can’t find elsewhere. Also in the gymnasium, the Old West Days committee sat up the tables designated for the performing artists to display their books, tapes, and CDs for the folks attending to browse through. Present on these tables were some of the finest cowboy entertainment materials available in this country today.

Friday morning the Cowboy Poetry and Music Sessions started in the Theatre. Three sessions of fifty minutes each were held from nine o’clock in the morning until noon. We had a very pleasant surprise when Yvonne Hollenbeck and Jean Prescott dropped in for a short visit and each performed a couple numbers during the first session. Hosts for these three sessions were: Wally Bazyn, Sarah Kovar, and Dan Stehlik. At twelve o’clock a Poetry and Music Workshop for area school children was held in the theatre. At one o’clock the trade show opened in the gymnasium and four more Poetry and Music Sessions started in the theatre with the hosts for these sessions being Slim McNaught, Glenn Ohrlin, Jack Ostergard, and Willard Hollopeter. Each session consisted of an average of four poets and musicians performing. Performers entertaining at Friday’s sessions were: Dan Stehlik, Phillip Crawford, Bonnie Krogman, Bill May, Curt Cooper, Marci Broyhill, Wally Bazyn, Teresa Orr, Chad Travis, Marilyn Herrmann, Ken Cook, Slim McNaught, Sarah Kovar, Paul Larson, RP Smith, Carr Family Band, Jerry Kennedy, Edgar Clemens, Lyn Messersmith, Marty Blocker, and Bruce Messersmith. These performers delivered some of the finest entertainment available, and the folks showed their appreciation with enthusiastic applause. Also starting at four o’clock in the Choral Room was an open mike session.

Friday evening saw the audience gathered in the theatre at seven thirty. A good crowd was on hand and was rewarded with some enjoyable cowboy entertainment. This performance was hosted by Deb Carpenter and performers were: Jack Ostergard, Geff Dawson, and Palo Duro (Jim Anderson, Cody Anderson, and Teresa Zimmerman). After the performance the audience spent considerable time in the gymnasium visiting with the entertainers and browsing through their books and CDs displayed at the Old West Days booth.

Saturday morning saw a simultaneous production of sessions of cowboy poetry and music in the Theatre and in the Commons room. The theatre sessions were hosted by Geff Dawson, Don Schauda, and Lyn Messersmith, and the performers for these sessions were: Lance Johnson, Phillip Crawford, Rick Buoy, Carr Family Band, Marilyn Herrmann, Ken Moreland, John LeBoeuf, Chad Travis, Bonnie Krogman, Edgar Clemens, and RP Smith. In the Commons area the sessions were hosted by Marty Blocker and the entertainers were: Marci Broyhill, Jerry Kennedy, Ken Cook, Paul Larson, Lyn Messersmith, Slim McNaught, Curt Cooper, Bill May, Dan Stehlik, Rick Buoy, Bruce Messersmith, Teresa Orr, and Sarah Kovar. Both areas were attended by good crowds.

At nine o’clock in the Choral room, Deb Carpenter hosted a demonstration of a variety of rhythms and helped participants develop their own rhymes and rhythmic accomplishments. Eleven o’clock in the Band room an open session was held with several talented performers doing their thing. One o’clock saw the trade show open again for the folks to browse through.

At one thirty this day the main performance began in the theatre with host, Dan Schauda, in charge and performers Glenn Ohrlin, Deb Carpenter, Geff Dawson, and Open Range (Ric Steinke and Linda Hausler), keeping the audience entertained with an hour and a half of great performances. At five o’clock a parade was enjoyed by many spectators lining the main street of Valentine. This is an annual event looked forward to by many. The local folks do a great job of putting this parade together for the enjoyment of all.

Seven thirty Saturday evening found us back at the theatre to take in the evening performance. Hosted by Open Range with performers Glenn Ohrlin, Elizabeth Ebert and Don Schauda, entertaining a full house, it was an evening filled with lots of applause and laughter. After the show the crowd moved into the gymnasium and spent the next hour visiting the performers and purchasing their choices of the entertainer’s books and CDs.

Sunday’s schedule included the annual Old West Church Service and Bar-B-Que at ten thirty and Old West Church Service and Dinner at the Berean Church at eleven o’clock. Then at two that afternoon the Old West Days trail ride took place.

The Old West Days event is put on by a very dedicated group. These folks go above and beyond the norm when organizing and implementing this four day event. Their goal of promoting and preserving the cowboy way of life, handed down to us by our ancestors, is a labor that will bear fruit for many years to come. The Old West Days committee consists of: Jerry Groom, president; Bob Stetter, vice-president; Tina Naughtin, secretary; and Jarolyn Crouse, treasurer. Board members Willard Hollopeter, Marsha Bauer, Dave Leonard, Ken Moreland, Marty Blocker, Steve Breuklander, Duane Bellin, and Phil Francke. “The purpose of this corporation shall be to preserve and perpetuate, commemorate and celebrate, our cultural heritage and traditional values pertaining to the land and its peoples, specifically by hosting and promoting an annual gathering of cowboy poets, writers, artists, collectors and musicians who reflect this cultural heritage.” These fine folk are to be highly commended for the excellent job they do in bringing the community of Valentine, Nebraska, such outstanding entertainment. And the participating merchants show what a community can do when they all work together. The accommodations in Valentine are very good. My wife and I stayed at the Raine Motel and the hospitality and services were excellent. What a great place to hang our hats. From my perspective as a performer, this is one of the most pleasurable events of our year. I want to extend a personal thanks to Willard Hollopeter for finding such a range of great entertainers for this cowboy function.

Jam sessions! This report would not be complete with mentioning the jam sessions that take place every year at the Holiday Inn on Friday and Saturday nights. Many of the performers for Old West Days gather here after the evening performances at the theatre and “jam” the evening away with Wally Bazyn doing the emceeing. There is always a good crowd following them to listen. This is a part of the weekend that the performers enjoy very much. It’s a time we can all try out new material and remember some of our older pieces. It gives us a chance to just get together and have fun and give the listeners a little extra entertainment. Some excellent talent is enjoyed by the folks who are brave enough to stay up past the midnight hour.

Knowing it is not possible for everyone to attend this annual get together, we thank everyone who was able to attend and hope the rest will be able to make it in the future. This is truly a cowboy poetry and musical entertainment function that is second to none in this area.


October, 2007
18th Annual Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico

  report by Howard Staub with photos by Totsie Slover

This flatlander and my bride, Totsie Slover, on Thursday, October 11th, 2007, made the three hour journey to Ruidoso Downs to take in the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium and gain more familiarity with cowboy and cowgirl singers and poets.

This year's 18th Annual Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium had three stages filled with quality cowboy entertainment from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM each day.  The venue is impressive. On average there were entertainers in constant rotation on these three separate stages about every half hour.  The two smaller stages were situated under the bleachers of the Ruidoso Downs track and the third and largest stage was under a giant white circus like tent.  Between the stages were vendors of many cowboy related products, whether for horses, the home or personal clothing.  Inexpensive food vendors aplenty and cowboy entertainers were everywhere among the public.  All are approachable and glad you made the trip to watch and listen to them entertain.  Down-to-earth folks to say the least.

Friday morning started off just right with my meeting R. J. Vandygriff of Lipscomb, Texas.  R. J. (Robert Joe) was the Master of ceremonies in the Circus tent Ray Reed Stage and we had a lengthy and enjoyable conversation. R. J. is a top notch personable cowboy singer and a 100 episode alumni of the TV program Walker, Texas Ranger.  The "behind the stage" area was a hub-bub of activity.  Pretty Devon Dawson, a founding member of The Texas Trailhands of Fort Worth, Texas, was readying for her singular performance and we met for the first time other then on the internet.  Devon had 15 year old Jess Meador with her and Jess is a Texas State Junior Fiddle Champion. So, in less time then it takes to drink a cup of java I had smoozed with three talented entertainers that I had not personally met previously. Watching and listening to Devon  and Jess perform only substantiates why they do what they do!  What talent!  And the audience responded accordingly.

 photo by Totsie Slover
Devon Dawson with Howard Staub

Time to take a hike.  Under the bleachers and thru the vendors we hiked to the far Larry McWhorter Stage, MCed by friend, Joe Baker, of Ruidoso.  We arrived just in time to hear storyteller, Dennis Gaines.  He has some entertaining far-fetched tales that are very animated and crowd pleasing.
He never even stops to take a drink of water! 

 photo by Totsie Slover

Howard Staub with Red Steagall

Next up was Red Steagall, The Official Cowboy Poet of Texas.  Managed to spend a few minutes with Red prior to his joining his brother Danny Steagall and Premier Guitar Picker, Richard O'Brien on stage for their great performance.  We again exchanged a few words after the masses had attacked him after his performance.  No doubt about why he is so well received and was a Headliner of the weekend event.  A humbling experience for me.

 photo by Totsie Slover
Rich O'Brien with Howard Staub

A newly formed group "The Singin' Cowgirls," consisting of previously mentioned Devon Dawson, Jean Prescott of Ovalo, Texas, Liz Masterson of
Denver, Colorado and Cindy Hobbs of Ruidoso were an instant hit with the audience!  The crowd-pleasing harmony they provided will cause a future CD to be released.  This mating of these four very talented ladies was the brain child of James Hobbs, husband of Cindy Hobbs.  Liz Masterson quipped they had the nickname of the "Night Mares."  Backing up the four song birds were the Flying J Wranglers of Ruidoso and they are seasoned professionals that don't skip a beat.  Looking the part of real working cowboys, their stringed instrument backing would make anyone envious.  Fresh and youthful, Corinna Ripple, provided fiddle back-up.  Everyone was smiling after this performance.  Especially the "Night Mares" as they knew they had a new winning combination.  The "Singin' Cowgirls" CD will be one welcome addition to any DJs library.

 photo by Totsie Slover
Liz Masterson with Howard Staub

Kip Calahan enticed us to take in her performance on the 3-Rivers of Texas Stage with the Sidekicks band.  Kip, who is nominated for the Western Music Association Female Vocalist  of the Year AND Entertainer of the Year, was accompanied by her young daughter Kyli.  They were in fine form as the Sidekicks provided crowd pleasing music.  Our front row seating in this center venue provided for plenty of listening pleasure from our friend and
daughter from Animas, New Mexico.

Back to the Larry McWhorter Stage we awaited the arrival of Lynn Anderson with many others in the audience.  The Lynn Anderson Band aka "Call of the West" with Rollie Stevens warmed up the audience for Lynn and then she warmed up the audience for her performance of her Nominated Song of the Year "I Rode In As a Stranger," written by her Mother, Liz Anderson.  Lynn and I had an interesting conversation while my bride took pictures.  Not everyday of the year I get to smooze with a legend.      

Saturday started as eventful as Friday with the news that Miss Devon Dawson of The Trailhands and newly formed "Singin' Cowgirls" had managed to break her left arm in a fall on Friday night.  Hopefully her healing period will be rapid and her great guitar picking ability will not suffer.

photo by Totsie Slover
Howard Staub and Biscuits O'Bryan

We started off the morning with some relaxing singular performances by Pete Laumbach of Hope, New Mexico, Biscuits O'Bryan, Cowboy storyteller and cook for the I. O. Everyone Ranch on the Larry McWhorter Stage.  Making another lengthy trip thru and among the entire gaggle of vendors we were headed for the Ray Reed Stage and were just in time to again catch Kip Calahan and daughter Kyli for a fresh photo before they went on stage.  Kip invited Lynn Anderson to join her on stage and they provided some rousing songs for the packed house audience.  Few in the crowd were aware that they were watching two fantastic entertainers who both are nominated for the Western Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year.  My vote had already been cast and I just sat there and smiled as my bride snapped a few pictures.  Pure talent shining through and the audience knew it.

Next up was Chuck Cusimano a masterful guitar picker and singer, transplanted from Colorado to Texas, who I had managed to spend some time
with on Friday.  His self written songs were well received and even with the Circus tent being whipped around by the increasing outside wind the crowds attention was still rapt.

 photo by Totsie Slover
Chuck Cuisimano with Howard Staub

We decided to coast down from the mountains and return to the desert flats of southwest New Mexico.  If tired feet are a measure of success then my mission had been accomplished.  After meeting and smoozing with all the great entertainers,  their generous gifts of CDs will be shared with the
grateful listeners of The Real West from the Old West each Wednesday on KOTS/1230AM/Deming, New Mexico.

Lots of folks from Deming and Luna County, New Mexico were in attendance at this year's Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium.  Like others they enjoyed the many events, from Chuck Wagon feeds to various "show and tell" cowboy presentations in addition to all the fabulous cowboy, country and Texas Honky-Tonk entertainers.

It really is fun!  Now if fun were money, I would be a millionaire.   



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



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