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(Some links may be out of date.)

2008 Reports

April - May

St. Anthony (Idaho) April

Mountain View (Missouri) April

Grass Valley (California) April

Touchet Valley (Washington) April

Kanab (Utah) April

Pasco (Washington) April

Ogden (Utah) May

Nordegg (Alberta) May

Medora (North Dakota) May  separate page


(See some additional April, 2008 Cowboy Poetry Week event reports here.)


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


See reports from 2007 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 . . .


April, 2008
21st Annual St. Anthony Cowboy Poetry Gathering   St. Anthony, Idaho

  report and photos by Bobbie Hunter


21st Annual St. Anthony Gathering

Despite the rising cost of fuel and ever-escalating travel expenses, Western entertainment is alive and well in Eastern Idaho! April 18 and 19, 2008, found entertainers converging on St. Anthony to share poetry, music, and friendship; this gala event celebrated St. Anthony’s 21st annual gathering. How’s that for longevity?

Sponsored by the American Legion and several other local businesses, the gathering allows a venue in which to celebrate the West, the Western life style, and “the cowboy way.” The Roxy Theater played host, and for the space of two days provided a “home” for the entertainers as well as for the audience. If only those walls could talk, oh, the stories they’d tell!

Both night shows began with a tribute to the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance. Patriotic? You bet!  As for the performances, this particular group of entertainers far exceeded what any audience could reasonably expect.

Layle Bagley

Layle Bagley (Idaho) acted as emcee on Friday night and did a masterful job of introductions; he also kept the jam-packed show running on schedule—no easy task when there were so many performers waiting their turn.  Saturday night’s emcee was Gordon Peterson (Idaho), who likewise pulled off the daunting task in a very skilled manner.  In the realm of Master of Ceremony, Layle and Gordon shine, indeed.

Gordon Peterson

Once each year, a few highly qualified performers are recognized for excellence in their field. The coveted Golden Note, Silver Quill, and Hall of Fame awards were presented during the Friday night show. Recipients were: Golden Note, Mike Burns (Canada); Silver Quill and Hall of Fame, Gordon Peterson (Idaho).

Mike Burn’s ability to write songs of enduring quality rightfully earned him the Golden Note award.  In addition, he has a distinctively mellow voice, always a pleasure to hear.

Gordon Peterson’s skill at writing thoughtful and well-crafted poems won him the Silver Quill award. As for the Hall of Fame, if “Duty in Action” counts for anything (and it does), then who is more deserving? Gordon has been a contributing member of CPI for many years.

“Top Hand” awards were given to: Willa Bagley, Nita Arnold, and Eunice Wellard. To receive the “Top Hand” is a great honor. The award acknowledges those who have demonstrated unfailing dedication in support of the cowboy poetry movement, and who have been consistent in their efforts over a span of years.

Les Merrill (Idaho) was recognized for his skill at managing the sound system; he offers that service not only for St. Anthony but for numerous other events, as well. The award was presented by his wife (Linda) which meant he also got a kiss out of the deal! Every performer realizes and appreciates the work of a skilled person “manning the controls.” His award was both warranted and long over-due. 

The “get-up-and-go” group Saddle Strings (Utah), comprised of Curt Argyle, Brian Arnold, Laurie Morgan, and Bud Brown, set a high standard for Friday’s show as they took center stage for the pre-show session.


Terri and Steve Taylor, and Dave Anderson, of Stampede! (Utah) got the Saturday night show off to a great start by pouring their hearts into the pre-show entertainment. Also part of the pre-show were Sandy and Gene Jones (Idaho), of Bad Water Cattle Company. Combined, their music and Sandy’s antics always please the crowd.

Bad Water Cattle Company

Jenny Lynn (Utah), Dave Anderson’s daughter, joined Stampede! for a song or two, and the result was nothing less than wonderful. That gal has a big voice and obviously enjoys singing. Barely old enough to get her driver’s license, she brings the vitality of youth with her—a welcome addition to the gathering.

Wayne Nelson

Ellie Corrigan

A request from the audience was fulfilled when Wayne Nelson (Idaho) recited "Snowville"; the crowd would not allow him leave the building until they heard it at least once.  Never quite sated, the folks eagerly awaited Ellie Corrigan’s (Idaho) rendition of "Frisbee Cat"; Keven Inman (Washington), an enthusiastic history buff, was in top form as he presented a sampling of works by Henry Herbert Knibbs (1874-1945); and the gathering would not have been complete without one of Sam DeLeeuw’s (Utah) poems of a camp-cook named Hilda. Layle Bagley introduced a character (Layle, himself) dressed in bib over-alls, hillbilly hat, and corn-cob pipe. It sent the crowd into fits of laughter when his nose (fake) fell off in the middle of the performance! Imagine that at a cowboy poetry gathering! In spite of everything, that good old boy spewed forth some pretty darned good work! And talk about strange sights—next time you see Ken Wellard, ask him about his talking dog! Many fine poets from near and far contributed to the two-day event; there was no shortage of talent, that’s for sure.

Sam DeLeeuw

When CPI members work together it’s a thing of beauty. Toni McGuire (Idaho) wrote a poem entitled "Faces:—it asks hauntingly thought-provoking questions.  Need more? Jamie Baker (Montana) ramped it up a bit by writing music to fit—complete with an Indian flare.  There you have it—CPI members combining what they do best to create a new work of art, and truly lovely.

The gathering attracted a nice mix of musicians and poets. The songs (poetry set to music) conveyed an added dimension which complemented the spoken word.  Together, the music and the poetry wove a weekend of cowboy magic.  Among the many musicians were the Fall River Boys (Mark Seeley, and Rand Hillman), Allan and Corean Romriell, Bob and Marion Baird, Bob Jackson, Arden Gailey, Bill Chiles, and Sam Mattise—all from Idaho. Gary Fergusen, and John Westbrook traveled from Montana, but this is just a sampling of those who shared their stories in song.

Bill Chiles

Larry Gibson (Montana), vocalist and musician, was also present to join the festivities. He brought news of an official CPI website which can be visited at: News of up-coming events, reports of gatherings, or anything of interest regarding the world of cowboy poetry may be submitted.

Time passed quickly and pleasantly until all too soon it was time for good-byes. Heading home, each person took memories enough to last until April 2009, when the hospitable little town of Eastern Idaho and the Roxy Theater will again host a group of cowboy poets and musicians eager to embark upon St. Anthony’s 22nd annual gathering.


April, 2008
10th Annual Missouri Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Mountain View, Missouri ~ Celebrating Cowboy Poetry Week

report by Jerry Schleicher

Missouri Cowboy Poets Association 10th Annual Gathering

Mountain View, Missouri, may have just 2,500 residents, but for one weekend each year, it's the Cowboy Poetry Capital of Missouri. Last April 25-27, 2008, a record crowd gathered at the upscale Mountain View Community Center to enjoy performances from 22 cowboy poets and musicians from five states at the annual gathering of the Missouri Cowboy Poets Association. The 2008 MCPA gathering marked the 10th year that Jennie Cummings, Director of the Mountain View Arts Council, and her posse have organized and helped sponsor this growing event.

The gathering kicked off on Friday evening with "Supper with the Cowboys," with dinner prepared and served by volunteers from the Mountain View United Methodist Church. Following dinner, all cowboy poets and musicians on hand were called up to the stage to perform. The show that evening also featured presentations by the winners of the Mountain View Elementary 5th Grade cowboy poetry competition, including Jazlyn Stout, Hannah Lucas, Sydney Dow and Sierra Benning.

Saturday morning, performers had their choice of performing at the Mountain View Healthcare Center, or of participating in an open mic session at the Community Center. That afternoon and evening, all poets and musicians returned to the stage for two more big shows. At the conclusion of the final show, MCPA co-founder Leroy Watts presented event organizer Jennie Cummings with a poem written specially in her honor. On Sunday morning, the poets and musicians concluded the event with Cowboy Church at the Mountain View United Methodist Church, followed by a roast beef dinner and more performances.

A record crowd (including a local TV crew) filled the Mountain View Community Center on Saturday night to enjoy performances by cowboy poets and musicians including:

John Beltz, a rancher, poet and storyteller from Willow Springs, Missouri; Gail Burton, cowboy poet, western writer, and author of the "Booger Red" stories, from Benton, Arkansas; Harold Carpenter, an ever-popular poet, humorist and rope spinner from Sedan, Kansas; Donna Carruthers, cowboy poet from Warsaw, Missouri; Tex Carroll, a rancher, poet and photographer from Neosho, Missouri; Don Collop, a cowboy poet and chuck wagon cook from Mexico, Missouri; Richard Dunlap, a cattleman and talented singer/songwriter/ musician from Louisburg, Missouri.

D.J. Fry, a respected poet and cowboy musician from Oronogo, Missouri; Cody and Dawnnell Holmes, an entertaining musical duo from Norwood, Missouri, and owners of the Rockin' H Ranch; Jay Jones, cowboy poet, storyteller and Bar-D "Lariat Laureate" from Columbia, Missouri; Buzz Keiper, an outstanding cowboy musician and singer from Columbia, Missouri; Ken Lorton, rancher, poet, western historian and leather braider from Warsaw, Missouri; Bob Miller, a multi-talented cowboy poet, songwriter and musician from Denton, Texas; Abe Reddekopp, a widely-known cowboy and gospel music performer from Kansas City, Missouri; Phil Rexwinkle, an animated poet and storyteller from Welch, Oklahoma; Francine Robison, a writer and poet from Shawnee,

Jerry Schleicher, a country humorist and cowboy poet from Parkville, Missouri; Steve Spalding, a cowboy pastor, poet and singer/songwriter/musician from Lebanon, Missouri who received three CMA award nominations during his music career in Nashville; Neal Torrey, author, cowboy poet, Bar-D "Lariat Laureate," and retired Wyoming lawman now living in Bolivar, Missouri;
Leroy Watts, a highly respected cowboy poet and a co-founder of the MCPA; Harold Williams, a cowboy poet from Joplin, Missouri; and Jerry "Jake" White, poet and storyteller from Springfield, Missouri.

As the outstanding turnout at the 2008 MCPA annual gathering shows, Missouri is proud to take its place among the nation's top cowboy poetry states. Missouri and the surrounding area is home to many outstanding cowboy poets and musicians, and many of the 63 members of the MCPA can be seen performing at events in Branson, Missouri, as well as events in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska and other states.


April, 2008
Grass Valley Elks' Cowboy Poetry  Grass Valley, California ~ Celebrating Cowboy Poetry Week

  report  by Harold Roy Miller with photos by Diana Miller


The evening started with a delicious cowboy supper of beef, cornbread and coleslaw. After dinner was over the show began in the historic auditorium, built with springs in the floor. 

Johnny Walker started the show with some pleasing harmonica playing of classic cowboy songs, doing some of them in double time, never missing a note. Next up was Dave P. Fisher, who recited his original poems, both serious and humorous. 

Then California poet Susan Parker recited her own poems as well as some written by 19th century pioneer women, taking us back in history.  A brief intermission and a raffle later, Johnny Walker again played the harmonica, playing cowboy songs and ending on a spiritual note. 

Susan Parker reciting her poem “She Rode a Wild Horse”

Then Harold Roy Miller was up, reciting his light-hearted poems about horses and cowboy life. 

Johnny Walker and Harold Roy Miller

Last but not least was Tony Argento, Jr.,  who recited classic poems and got a standing ovation for his rendition of "That Ragged Old Flag."

Tony Argento, Jr.

The show was fun, the audience was appreciative and dinner was great.


April, 2008

 Nevada Slim and Cimarron Sue ( performed at many Cowboy Poetry Week activities, including those with rural libraries, in their area around Prescott, Washington. Sue Matley ("Cimarron Sue") organized the many activities and sent the following report:


The Touchet Valley Scoop
 by Cimarron Sue 

The Touchet River Valley is a little-traveled gem in Walla Walla and Columbia Counties (southeastern Washington State). The area is alive with western history and was on the return route of the Lewis and Clark expedition in May, 1806. Many of the people who live in the Touchet Valley today are descended from the earliest settlers who arrived in the mid-nineteenth century, initially to raise cattle on the abundant bunch grass. In the 1870s the railroad arrived and wheat production became the dominant force in the local agricultural economy.

Nevada Slim and I (aka Bruce and Susan Matley) settled here a year ago. This January we started talking about what we could do to bring Cowboy Poetry Week to our new community. The idea caught on like a grass fire and we ended up helping with 8 local events in a 35-mile radius.

Here’s the week in review:

April 3: (An early-bird event) Burbank Library invited us to play, recite and talk about Cowboy Poetry Week at their fourth annual poetry slam. Jim Crawford from the Columbia River Cowboy Heritage Society was on hand to spread the good word as well. The library’s poetry contest (all ages) drew over 50 entries with a variety of themes. Librarian Virginia Gutierrez recited some of the winning poems when the kids proved too shy to get up in front of a crowd. Though the following poem didn’t win a prize, it stuck in my mind:

Wiener Dogs

Black and brown down to the ground.
Wiener dogs have a lot to say.
They bark and bay all day.
You should get a Wiener dog today right away.

by Mayci Beck (3rd Grade)

In a stretch, this could be considered a cowboy poem (think “git a long little doggie” . . .).

Contest winners (all themes were sought) and their poem titles: Eunice Worden, "Kayaking Sunday Morning"; Dan Stenkamp, "Shoelace"; Taylor Gridley, "What We Have Forgotten"; Jena Gordan, "Who am I?  ME"; Abram, "Butterfly"; Lily Gridley and Sammy Combs, "Fishes"; Emigh Wallace, "Mustangs"; Teagan Aune, "A Duck Named Chuck"; Emma Glazier, "Wear Green on Saint Patrick's Day"; Ali Martineau, "Little Boy Pat"; and Michelle Maine, "Basket Ball."

April 20: The official week opened in Waitsburg with The Touchet Valley Western Show at Ye Towne Hall. Guest performers cowboy poet Clark Crouch (the “Sandhill Sage”) from Bothell, Washington and Barbara Nelson (Western Swing Diva) of Pendleton, Oregon joined us for shows at 2 PM and 6:30 PM. The audiences enjoyed the mixture of music and poetry, and Barbara and Clark gained some solid new fans.

April 21: 3 PM Dayton Memorial Library- “Red Ridin’ ” Robin Dale, cowgirl singer, poet and yodeler joined us for a children’s hour program. Librarian Janet Lyons introduced us to a mixed audience of adults and kids, about 40 in all. Slim navigated the challenging waters of connecting with the pre-teens through a Q & A approach (What is poetry? What do you think might be different about cowboy poetry? etc.). The mixture of seriousness and fun held their attention. The youngest audience members danced along to “Pecos Bill” and Robin’s poem about a cow-dog that doesn’t like pancakes was a big hit.

Robin, Slim and I then traveled down the road to the Weller Library in Waitsburg for a community celebration starting at 5 PM. A brave Waitsburg High School sophomore, John Hockersmith, performed the song “Cows With Guns” to an all-female audience; he did a fine job and we’re hoping more local talent will emerge for 2009. Robin Dale shared her original poem “Oops!” about a range-ridin’ cowgirl who remembers to pack everything but her horse. The ladies were tickled by Slim’s recitation of “The Bra” (Bill Hirschi) and I put forth Wally McRae’s “Reincarnation.” Robin and Slim then alternated leads in an impromptu Jack Hannah songfest (the two of them are, I think, Jack’s biggest fans). Thanks to librarian Jan Chronkite. Men of Waitsburg, we hope you are part of the fun next year! 

April 22: Prescott, 7 PM. Librarian Josh Westbrook wisely anticipated a crowd that would exceed the limits of the much-loved one-room library and moved the event next door to the Lion’s Hall (thanks, Lions!). In a first-time event he attracted 5 entrants to the kids poetry contest. First place (selected by audience vote) went to Sonya Crispin, 1st Grade, for her poem "TV is Boring" (not a cowboy-sounding title but she seems to be headed in a good direction). There was a tie for second place: Thalia Crispin - Kindergarten and Mary Groom 1st Grade. Two of our Prescott neighbors, Jim Fenley (“Pigpen” and 3 other poems) and Gene Gerkey (“Old Fences”), stood before the audience of 30-plus and delivered their original cowboy-themed work. Larry Pitcher tickled the crowd with his rendition of “Reincarnation.” I got my first chance to recite Doris Daley’s “The Answering Machine,” the humor of which successfully crossed international borders. Slim and I filled out the program with a selection of cowboy-poems-turned-songs and ended with our “Westward Bound Medley” of songs from the great westward migration of the 1840s and 50s. Said librarian Josh, “. . . there was a moment at the end where everyone was toe tapping and singing along. That was great.  We should do it again next year!”

The Prescott Library was the recipient of a fine collection of cowboy poetry and prose books, CDs and DVDs, 22 items in all! These works are currently being cataloged through the Walla Walla County Rural Library System and will be on display in the Prescott Library window when they are returned. Thanks to Baxter Black, Clark Crouch, Doris Daley, Rib Gustafson, Wylie Gustafson, Rockin’ HW, Smoke Wade, Mick Vernon, the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, Western Jubilee Recording Co., and Paul Zarzyski for their generosity!

April 23: Touchet Community Library, 5-8 PM. The Friends of the Touchet Library are an active bunch and their publicity efforts, which included special mailings and wide-spread promotion of their poetry contest, netted nearly 50 contest entries (judged by the other Walla Walla County rural librarians) and an audience of 118 (not bad for a town of 500). The poetry contest winners presented their work from the stage. Congratulations to:

K-grade 3:1st Danaka Jaggar, 2nd Melody Griffin, 3rd Katie Skramstad
4-6 grade: 1st Kalie Adams, 2nd Autumn Rea, 3rd Andrew Flagstead
7-8 Grade: 1st Kim Courson, 2nd Robert Elsinghorst
9-12 Grade: Kira Flagstead, Austin Kentch

Librarian Carlotta Richardson hosted the event at the school multi-purpose room (once again, the library building was too small for the level of interest). She recruited a wide selection of cowboy and western-themed presenters:

The Dutch Oven Cookers Joe and Laura Schmidt and members of the "3 Rivers Cast Iron Cookers"
Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mantz-Powers of the "Blue Mountain Dutch Oven Society"
Jim Crawford from the Columbia River Cowboy Heritage Society
The City Clicker Cloggers and Steppin' Country (line dancers)
Gold Vein Photography took photos that will appear on the library’s website.

Our saddle pal Red Ridin’ Robin joined us again. She’s the gorgeous red-head in the middle

photo by Robert Remus
Nevada Slim, Robin Dale, Cimarron Sue, and librarian
Carlotta Richardson


Librarian Carlotta Richardson is already talking about adding a library fundraiser chili feed/cook off to the program next year.

April 24: Slim and I return to Dayton for “Cowboys Singing Under the Blues,” sponsored by the Touchet Valley Arts Council and benefiting the Liberty Theater annex “open the doors” campaign. Janet and Robert Phinney of Dayton cooked up the concept and an army of volunteers cooked up a chuck-wagon style dinner (served in the theater annex, the renovation of which will benefit from the evening’s proceeds). Patrons moved from the annex to the lobby of the beautifully restored Liberty Theater. Western bronze sculpture and paintings by Keith MacMasters graced the lobby and readied the audience for an evening of cowboy poetry and song. Over 100 folks attended, and once again we had the opportunity to spread the word about Cowboy Poetry Week. The level of interest in keeping western heritage alive is strong in this part of the country; at the Liberty, as everywhere else during the week, the regional and personal pride expressed in being a part of this continuing history makes the hard work of all cowboy and western performing, literary and visual artists seem very, very worthwhile.

April 25: Back to Prescott. We’re on for an evening of poetry and song at the one-and-only watering hole, the Tuxedo Bar & Grill. Of all the venues we’ve played this week, the Tux is the only one we’ve played before. In the crowded bar and dining room we picked out a couple dozen folks who had attended three or more of the week’s events. I suspect demand for a bigger, wider celebration of Cowboy Poetry Week in 2009 is on the horizon. As we vamp near the end of our last song, I remind the audience about the wonderful new cowboy poetry collection at the Prescott Library and encourage them to read/listen to find their own “favorite” to learn for next year, and maybe write a few of their own. 

April 26: Finally! We have a minute to take off our hats, kick off our boots, and listen to the Bar-D Roundup. It’s restorative to hear the voices of friends and performing comrades. My own plans for Cowboy Poetry Week 2009 begin as I listen to Kent Rollins' “Horseshoes and Heaven” on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Two (2007)—think I’ll drop him a line and see if he’d mind if I worked this one up.  

Susan Matley
aka Cimarron Sue


(See some additional April, 2008 Cowboy Poetry Week event reports here.)

April, 2008
First Annual Utah, Arizona, Nevada  (& Neighbors) Cowboy Poetry Gathering & "Old Timers" Get Together   Kanab, Utah

report and photos by  Jo Lynne Kirkwood


Kane County keeps Cowboy Poetry Week Alive and Well in Utah

Kane County’s Western Writers and Poets Association, in Kanab, carried the torch a second year for Utah Cowboy Poets for 2008’s Cowboy Poetry Week, with what is destined to become an annual “Old-Timers Get Together.” The event kicked off on Friday, April 24th, at the old Frontier Movie Town, with a full day of yarn-spinning, lies, poetry, music, and great food provided by local Dutch-oven chef Lonnie Kirby. Many locals and out-of-towners participated, all under the long-winded and enduring stewardship of Nevada’s Smoke Wade, who MC’d all events throughout the weekend. By the time I arrived in town Friday afternoon, Smoke had already orchestrated a full day of poetry and music, and was primed and raring to go for the evening concert. Friday night’s show took place at the Crescent Moon Theater, and featured musician Kenny Hall, poets Phil Kennington, Sam DeLeeuw,
Jo Lynne Kirkwood,Sam Jackson  and Susie the Sheeppoetdog, Myrna’s kids (area youth poets) and several well-received performances by Kanab-area residents.

Susie the CowPuppy, posed at the knees of her loyal companion Sam Jackson

Utah Musician Jan Erickson, one-half of the group The Drifter and the Lady ("The Lady" is Judy Erickson, Jan's wife.)

Saturday morning began with a hearty pancake breakfast in the park (sponsored by the local Lion’s Club) then we all checked in again at the Crescent Moon for a full day of scheduled performances juxtaposition with impromptu moments from folks who’d come from as far away as Mesquite or Moab. The evening concert that night featured Kane County’s Poet Laureate, Doug Keller, poet Don Kennington, and the Utah music group Western Shadows. The weekend wrapped up in traditional Utah Style, with a nondenominational Cowboy Church Sunday morning, again under the direction of Smoke Wade. The Kane County Western Writers and Poets groups deserve a big hand for all their work, and a true nod of appreciation from all the Utah poets for keeping the spirit alive and well during the 2008 Cowboy Poetry Week. Thanks, pards, for a job well done.


April, 2008
5th Annual Columbia River Cowboy Gathering  Pasco, Washington

  report and photos by Smoke Wade
photo of Smoke Wade by Jeri L. Dobrowski; see her gallery of western performers and others here.


2008 Columbia River Cowboy Gathering

For the 5th consecutive year, cowboy poets and western musicians gathered in a time honored tradition along the banks of the Columbia River in Pasco, WA for the 2008 Columbia River Cowboy Gathering. And what a fantastic event it was! The organizers of the event, Ed & Angie Dailey and Budd & Judy Massengale, along with the gathering board members, seem to have the ability to take this festival to new heights every year. They are to be commended for putting together an exceptional gathering and certainly one of the very best in the Pacific Northwest.

The most noticeable difference in this year’s gathering was the change of venue from the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Kennewick, WA, to the TRAC facility across the river in Pasco, WA. The TRAC is a very large activity center that accommodates many activities at the same time including an adjacent minor league baseball field. This particular weekend found the cowboy entertainers sharing the event grounds with the Desert Classic Quarter Horse Show.

The event center for the gathering was located in the ice hockey building with a unique stage set up. The day stage was on one end of the building while the main stage for the evening shows was on the opposite end of the ice arena. Located between the opposite facing seating arrangement were tables for folks to enjoy lunch or perhaps to spend time visiting and relaxing. Western trade-show exhibitors lined the walls on either side of the seating area.

Cowboy entertainment got under way at noon on Friday with scheduled showcase performances mixed with open mic sessions. Budd Massengale emceed the day shows and he kept the program moving in an organized manner. Since the Columbia River Cowboy Gathering blends Nashville with western music, it was normal to see performers such as Rex Allen Jr. and Johnny Lee sitting in the showcase audience. One highlight of the Friday showcase was when STAMPEDE!, of Utah, was on stage and asked for requests. A voice in the back of the audience blurted, "Ride Cowboy, Ride." As soon as the group got the song started, Rex Allen Jr. bounded from the audience to the stage and joined the group to sing the song that he wrote.

Keith Anderson and the Columbia River Cowboy Heritage Society presented special afternoon poetry performances. One of the highlights of the day sessions was an outstanding showcase performance by Hank Cramer of Washington. Cramer’s blend of a strong folk singer background with traditional cowboy songs was well received by the audience.

The Rockin’ HW,  Alan Halvorson, Morry Walter and Michael Whitaker

The entertainment switched to the main stage at 5:00 p.m. as Ed Dailey took over the emcee duties with occasional help from Smoke Wade, Nevada. The evening show featured musician/singers Shiloh Sharrard, Idaho; Bodie Dominguez, Washington; Rod Erickson, Idaho; Sarah Gautschi, California; and John Westbrook, Montana. The musical groups included The Rockin’ HW, Washington, comprised of Alan Halvorson, Morry Walter and Michael Whitaker; The High Strung Band featuring the five member Reddington family, Oregon; and the popular Utah trio, Steve & Terri Taylor and David Anderson of the band, STAMPEDE! Steve Taylor is president of the Western Music Association. Cowboy poets for the evening included Clark Crouch, Washington; Van Criddle, Oregon, Sam DeLeeuw, Utah; and Smoke Wade.

Smoke Wade and Sam DeLeeuw

Headlining the evening’s event were Eli Barsi, Tennessee, and Johnny Lee. Eli Barsi was back by popular demand and she brought her own unique brand of energy and pure entertainment to the stage much to the delight of the audience. She certainly appears to be one of the brightest young talents in the western music genre.

Eli Barsi and husband John Cunningham

Lee has produced many No. 1 country hits in his career including "Lookin’ for Love," "One in a Million," "Bet Your Heart on Me," "The Yellow Rose of Texas," and "You Could’ve Heard a Heart Break." Along with many other Top Ten country hits, Lee absolutely dominated the evening. Traveling solo to this event, he was backed up by Zac Grooms and the band, Unwound, from Oregon. After the Johnny Lee performance ended, the Unwound band played dance music until midnight.

After the event center entertainment quieted down and the audience reluctantly departed for the evening, many of the musicians and fans regrouped at the Crow’s Nest on the top floor of the Clover Island Inn across the river in Kennewick for a late night jam session.

Everything started up again at the TRAC at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning with a full venue of daytime showcase performances and open mic sessions. Budd Massengale was the emcee for the day time event. Joining the Friday cast of performers on Saturday were Coyote Joe Sartin, Oregon; Sourdough Slim, California; and the kicking’ cowgirl band from Washington, Horse Crazy, featuring Lauralee Northcott, Emele Clothier and Jennifer Epps. Their performance was dynamic and their three-part harmony brought the audience to their feet.

One noted performance of the day was presented by the ever-popular Sourdough Slim. While his talent is original and funny, he has the ability to make an audience laugh just by standing on the stage and not speaking. Once his act started, the crowd went wild which seemed to add fuel to the fire. His performance could have to have been rated the "Best of Show."

Sourdough Slim

Cowboy poet, Van Criddle and his wife, Kathy, were presented with the Rising Star Award for their contributions to the western entertainment industry. The Top Hand Award was presented to board members Alan Rogers and Donna Pettyjohn for their endless hours of volunteer work in helping make the show a success.

At 5:00 p.m. the program once again reverted to the main stage on the opposite end of the building for a special performance of the Buckskin Trail Radio Theater. The program featured Greg Martin as Morgan Hays and Gail Marten as Lacy Gray along with participating members from the audience. The show paid tribute to classic radio programs of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s in the tradition of Gene Autry, The Lone Ranger and Hop-a-long-Cassidy.

Many of the Saturday night performers were the same as Friday night, and Ed Dailey along with Smoke Wade once again emceed the show. Joining the cast for the evening were Sourdough Slim and Horse Crazy. Sarah Gautschi dazzled the audience with classic favorites such as "Tennessee Waltz," and "The Wayward Wind." John Westbrook displayed his exceptional guitar playing abilities and the High Strung Band achieved their usual standing ovation.

Headlining the Saturday night show was Rex Allen Jr. of Nevada. Back by popular demand, he dominated the evening with his strong vocals and pleasing stage presence. Allen not only starred on the hit television shows, The Statler Brothers Show and Yesteryear, he has also written many top 50 country songs. Most recently, Rex Allen Jr. was inducted into the Western Music Association Hall of Fame in Albuquerque, New Mexico in November 2007. Several standing ovations by the packed house were well deserved and Allen signed autographs for nearly an hour after the show ended.

The dance music for the evening was provided for the second year in a row by STAMPEDE! After the dance, once again the performers and fans joined in the Crow’s Nest for another late night jam session.

Sunday morning open mic sessions were hosted by Smoke Wade starting at 8:30 a.m. Young Shiloh Sharrard presented a special performance much to the delight of the early morning crowd. Shiloh is well known through out the northwest and her classic country sound is exceptional. Following Shiloh, Wade introduced a Sunday morning presentation of the Buckskin Trail Radio Theater.

Cowboy Church immediately followed and was hosted by event organizer, Ed Dailey. Special guests, Rod Erickson, Eli Barsi, Bill Douglas and the Moderately Bright String Band joined with Dailey to conclude the weekend events.

Following the Cowboy Church, performers and fans once again bade each other farewell while promising to meet again soon, somewhere along the cowboy poetry trail.



May, 2008
First Annual Golden Spike Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival  Ogden, Utah

report and photos by  Jo Lynne Kirkwood


Golden Spike Gathering a Big HIT

The first annual Golden Spike Memorial Gathering, in Ogden, was a delightful montage of music, poetry, artisans and memorabilia. The Show opened Thursday night, May 8th, with an outdoor concert in Ogden’s Amphitheater featuring Don Kennington, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, and Curly Musgrave and Belinda Gail. Although the spring evening was just a bit chilly, the performance drew a great crowd who responded enthusiastically and begged for more when time drew to a close.

Jerry Brooks and Don Kennington

We moved inside Friday, and the convention center played host to two stages throughout the day both Friday and Saturday. Friday night’s pre- concert featured Sam DeLeeuw, Bob Christensen, and the Fall River Boys. The Bar J Wranglers came on stage at seven PM and ended the evening with the fun and frolic they command so well. Saturday night’s headliner concert featured Baxter Black, with a pre-show including Jerry Brooks, Phil Kennington, and Utah’s Saddle Strings.

STAMPEDE!, Steve Taylor, David Anderson and Terri Taylor

 Other artists who participated included Coyotee Moon, Matt and Bob Urry, Smoke Wade, Stan Tixier, Rockin’ Chair Wranglers, Robin Arnold, Richard Olsen, Blue Sage, STAMPEDE!, and Jan and Judy Erickson ("The Drifter and the Lady").

Blue Sage, the Mike Iverson Family (Shawna, Mike and Heather)

This event was sponsored by Utah’s Enable Industries, a non-profit group who works with handicapped adults and other disadvantaged people. The Golden Spike Memorial Cowboy Gathering has been in the planning stages for several years, and all who attended were delighted to see the fruition of this delightful venue. Special thanks to members of our performers community who worked long and hard to pull it all together; Stan Tixier, Bob Urry, Lisa Stubblefield, and Bill and Lu Middleton, as well as local patrons and members of the Enable group.


Utah poet Stan Tixier, part of the organizing committee

There is a compilation CD available from the 2008 Gathering:



"The Last Nail" by Don Kennington
"Colorado Trail" by Jan Erickson
"Dear Jack Letter" by Bob Christensen
"Where the Wild Horses Run" by STAMPEDE!
"The New Kid," by Bob Urry
"Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie" by Blue Sage
"John Henry's Ghost" by
Stan Tixier
"Romancin' Cowboy" by Richard Olsen
"Hilda's Bloomers" by Sam DeLeeuw
"The Gift" by Latigo
"Merle's Opus" by
Jo Lynne Kirkwood"Via el Diablo" by Coyotee Moon
"Crowding Fences" by Fall River Boys
"Little Joe the Wrangler" by Robin Arnold
"Cowgirl" by Kortnee Urry
"Trail Dust" by Saddlestrings
"Morning on the Desert" by Jerry Brooks ("Brooksie") from The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Two
"Mountain Morning" by Matt Urry
"Creakin' of the Leather" by
Curly Musgrave and Belinda Gail
"Trailing the Herd," by Smoke Wade
"The Editor," by Phil Kennington

The CD is available for $12 postpaid from:

Vaneta Stephens
Enable Industries Inc.
2640 Industrial Drive
Ogden, UT 84401


May, 2008
Third Annual Canadian Rockies Cowboy Festival   Nordegg, Alberta

report and photos by Mag Mawhinney


May 30-June 1, 2008


While rains continuously splashed over most of western Canada, there was no wet blanket putting a damper on the fun and excitement at this year’s Rockies gathering. Even though it had snowed the week before, owners of the David Thompson Resort, Ron and Wendy Killick, had specifically ordered up blue skies for the event and the sun constantly peeked around fluffy clouds the whole weekend. Matter of fact, it turned out hot enough for shorts and sandals.

stage area

A line-up of thirteen entertainers, including MC/poet Mike Puhallo, put on a fabulous show, which started at 4 pm on Friday and ended at 12:30 am on Sunday. There was a unique blend of music--western, folk, old country and even some bluegrass. Juno award-winner and western roots singer, Gary Fjellgaard is always well received wherever he performs and this was his second time at the festival. (He will be coming back next year as well) Other singers included father and son duo, Larry and Dwain Sands; Allen Christie and Hillbilly Dust, who also backed up rodeo hall of famer and singer/songwriter, Ivan Daines; father and daughter duo of Danny and Susan Gibson; and poets Al Owchar and me [Mag Mawhinney]. Great talent from across the border were WMA award-winner, Joni Harms, who brought her young daughter and son along to help entertain folks; cowgirl band, Horse Crazy, who put on a lively show with their great sense of humour and wonderful harmony to some old standards and original songs and Dave McClure, who did it all—musical presentations, poetry and stand-up comedy, keeping the crowd wanting more. Creosote Sound did a truly fantastic job with the stage equipment, making each performer sound as clear and crisp as the mountain air.

hosts, Wendy and Ron Killicks in the CD sale area

Mag in the foreground with Al Owchar and his brother in cook shack

Early risers were entertained by the Owchar brothers, Dave McClure and me at the breakfasts in the open-sided cook shack. There were definitely more lined up for pancakes, eggs and bacon this year, so it’s a pretty good bet folks enjoyed the poetry and music that was added to the morning programme.

festival poster raffle

barbeque meal in Belledome

On Saturday, hundreds of steaks sizzled on the barrel barbeques for a delicious outdoor supper, complete with three kinds of desserts. Both evenings had many guests wearing off shoe leather in the Belledome, dancing to some fine two-stepping music from the Three Musty Steers and a few of the daytime performers.

Rancher, poet and preacher, Bryn Thiessen, kept the crowd laughing at his quick-witted humour, both in his afternoon set and during Cowboy Church. There is nobody who uses such thought-provoking parables in his sermons, comparing every day life to the Bible, as Bryn does. And I have to tell you folks, sitting in lawn chairs in the sunshine with the scent of pine in the air and the view of the beautiful Rocky Mountains couldn’t have been a more spiritual place to feel closer to God. Because of that and the “down home” hospitality of the Killicks, their staff and volunteers, the Rocky Mountain Cowboy Festival gets my vote as the place to be the first weekend in June 2009.

performers in final set on main stage



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



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