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(Some links may be out of date.)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


Shingletown (California) August

Stony Plain (Alberta) August

Prescott (Arizona) August

Reno (Nevada) August

Ketchum (Idaho) August

Alpine (Arizona) August

New Underwood (South Dakota) September

Page two:

Cochrane (Alberta) September

Maple Creek (Saskatchewan) September 

Hot Springs (South Dakota) September

Enterprise (Oregon) September


See January-March reports here
See April-May reports here
See June-July 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


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September, 2008
New Underwood Centennial New Underwood, South Dakota

report by Slim McNaught with photos by Dena Whitney

[photo of Slim McNaught by Jen Dobrowski]



Some like it hot and some like it cold, that about covered everyone attending the Centennial Celebration for New Underwood, South Dakota. The first two days were scorchers and the last day was rainy, windy, and cool. Located twenty miles east of the Black Hills, this little town of 600 energetic folks organized and put on an excellent celebration. With three days chocked full of events like horseshoe tournaments, threshing bee, games galore, horse and buggy rides, a melodrama, magic acts, ranch rodeo, jackpot roping, the longest parade in years (around 125 entries over a mile long), food and more food, and much, much more, topped off by two hours of knee slappin’, foot stompin’, cowboy poetry and music. (Whew! About winded myself there). The ‘home town’ atmosphere enjoyed by the several hundred out-of-towners was remarked on several times.

At two o’clock Monday afternoon September 1, the “Cowboy Poetry in the Park” (moved to the big tent because of rain) took off with a line up of some of the best poets and musicians in these western states on stage. The crowd, which filled that big tent to overflowing, was told that several emcees had tried to control this group and didn’t have much luck, so take a deep seat and hang on. They did, and it turned into one of the most entertaining events this town has seen in years. As emcee and first in line, I introduced the performers with a short note about each one, then started the round robin with a joke I had put to rhyme.

That led to Bonnie Krogman putting the audience in stitches with a poem about events that happened on the ranch she and her husband, Ken, have lived on for 30 years. Ken is the inspiration for many of Bonnie’s poems, and having him in the audience gets to be hilarious. Her poems reflect what it means to be a ranch wife and nearly every poem she has is based on an actual event, whether it’s working in the hayfield, in the barn, or pulling a calf, she tries to find humor in whatever comes along. There were a bunch of ranch wives in the audience shakin’ their heads in agreement with her poetry tales.

Next came Robert "Jinglebob" Dennis, from Red Owl, South Dakota. He has been beating on his guitar and emceeing cowboy poetry events for almost 30 years and is a fourth generation rancher on his great grandfather’s original homestead. I told the audience that Jinglebob lives so far out in the boondocks that his e-mails are packed in to him the last 20 miles on horseback. He writes some of the poems and songs he performs, but also recites and sings material by other folks. As well as doing an excellent job reciting poetry, Robert is one of the few really good story tellers. When he told the story about tangling his dad up in a rope while dragging calves to the branding fire, and acted it out on stage, he had the audience “rollin’ on the ground”. He’s also been to Elko, Nevada, a time or two over the years. Robert still works his cows horseback and feeds and fixes fence with a team. He can sure get the ranch folks' attention.

Diane Tribitt, Minnesota’s Cowgirl Poet, hadn’t recited over a couple of verses of one of her poems when she had the audience laughin’ it up again. We were having almost more fun than the law allows. Coming from Hillman, Minnesota, where she ranches, Diane has a wide range of poetry that takes folks from moods of the very humorous to the emotional teary eyed state. She was events secretary on the rodeo circuit for many years, while surviving droughts, blizzards, diseases, and devastating losses that go with ranching and rodeo. Diane was named the fourteenth Lariat Laureate winner in a global competition on the internet’s premier cowboy poetry site,, and was a featured poet at Elko, Nevada, this year. She is also Senior Executive Editor of I.M. Cowgirl magazine.

Then came Ken Cook. Ken is very popular as a cowboy entertainer. He ranches in Bennett County, South Dakota with his wife and sons. His daughter and her husband just presented Ken and wife, Nancy, with their first granddaughter and Ken was in for a lot of good natured ribbing about his “swelled head.” Diane Tribitt had presented him with a hat stretcher the day before. Ken’s poetry cuts a wide path from the humorous “who’d a thunk it” mishaps involving kids, cattle and horses, right down an emotional trail reliving the years he spent horseback with his grandpa, Frank Buckles. With his talent, it’s no wonder he was a featured performer at Elko, Nevada, and an "8 Second" Runner Up for the Lariat Laureate. He can sure keep a crowd hangin’ on every word.

Last in line was one of the most talented musicians in our area. Brent Voigt, rancher from Rhame, North Dakota, has shared the stage with Chris LeDoux, Red Steagall, Baxter Black, Moe Bandy, Eric Church, Jean Sheppard, Joe Diffy, Ricky Van Sheldon, Gail Davies, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Williams & Ree. He was invited to perform at the “Best of the Open Mic” show at Elko, Nevada, this year. He followed Ken Cook with songs reflecting on Ken’s poetry. These two have performed together in the past with much success, and Brent had the crowd’s full attention with his excellent musical performances.

The round started again with me and from there on it was a roller coaster ride for the audience. During a total of four rounds with performers bantering back and forth entertaining everyone, and taking the audience from gales of laughter to “hear a pin drop” tear jerkers, the two hours went by way too fast. But, like all good things, these events also must end. As the final act Brent put the crowd on their feet, with hats over their hearts, singing with him, “The Star Spangled Banner.” What a touching ending to a perfect performance. Happy Birthday, New Underwood, and we wish you many more.

August, 2008
Third Annual Reno Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering  Reno, Nevada

  report by Pat Richardson


3rd Annual Reno Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering

Once again the Soroptimists International of Reno, Nevada put on a great Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering. Emcee and television personality John Tyson did a great job of keeping the show running along with Cheryl Parks, Karen Munson and a host of eager volunteers.

Friday night, the show opened with a few short poems by various local talent. The main show opened with Jon Chandler from Colorado, who thrilled the crowd with his BIG voice and had the crowd begging for more. Jon has been a crowd pleaser everywhere I've seen him perform and he did it solo without his great picker Ernie Whatshisname.

Jon was followed by my favorite cowboy poet Pat Richardson, I've seen every performance Pat has had, and this was no exception.

Winding things up was Elko's own Waddie Mitchell who called Jon back out to do another tune or two much to the crowds delight, then he talked the semi-beautiful Juni Fisher into coming out and joining him on stage. Juni is always a delight to hear and her ravishing sister was a sight to behold. (that'll pay Juni back for treating me poorly). Waddie was a great closer to a fantastic show.

Saturday night was once again opened by various local poets followed by John Tyson handling the emceeing like an old pro.

Juni Fisher who in reality is not bad looking in her own right, put on a great show of herself, she has an appealing way of introducing her songs, a great many of which she writes herself and has an amazing voice. The crowd insisted on an encore when she was done.

Once again my favorite cowboy poet  Pat Richardson had the crowd in stitches with his homemade cowboy poetry and his rugged good looks, who could resist him?

After the intermission Dave Stamey wowed the crowd with his stage presence, original songs, and in my opinion one of, if not the best cowboy singer and entertainer. The crowd once again wouldn't quit without an encore from Dave.

It was an exceptional show from start to finish.

August, 2008
3rd Annual Cowboy Poets Gathering   Alpine, Arizona

report by Greg Scott

Third Annual Alpine Cowboy Poet Gathering August 28, 2008

Alpine, Arizona, appropriately located in a beautiful mountain valley at 8, 500 ft, hosted its third annual gathering for cowboy poets. Hosted by the Alpine Area Library Friends, this event gets better each year. Libraries are
often the center of activities in smaller towns. The folks in Alpine are  justifiably proud of their library which will be moving into a wonderful new facility later this year.

This year the lineup of poets and musicians  included well known song writer and poet Les Buffham, who has been spending the summer near Alpine; Jim Cardwell from California, who shared original songs and poems; Mike Moutoux from kinda nearby Pinos Altos, New Mexico, who also had some very nice original poems and songs; Ken Whitecotton from Tucson, who presented some good stories and several original poems; Greg Scott from Elgin, Arizona, who sang some traditional songs and "Little Joe" to commemorate the Jack Thorp centennial; Sue Carroll Jones from Alma, New Mexico, just down the road, who shared original poetry from the viewpoint of a rancher's wife (and from a grandmother's viewpoint); and Chris Isaacs from just up the road in Springerville, who presented stories and poems by Sunny Hancock and Larry McWhorter in addition to his excellent original work. Be sure to catch Chris at Elko this January.

No event of this sort can ever get off the ground without the efforts of many people. Evelyn Williams, from the library had a solid group of volunteers to see that the program went without a problem. Local merchants and others contributed items for a silent auction and friends of the library contributed delicious cookies and baked goods to enjoy during the break. This year included a visit to the local school for the first time. Greg Scott, who used to teach in a small rural school, dropped by the Alpine School and did a program for all fifty students and their teachers and staff. Evelyn and AALF are already planning the Gathering for next year. Mark your calendar for 2009. The Alpine Gathering is a great way to begin your Labor Day Weekend!

August, 2008
Cowboy Poetry/Cowboy Music Salute to Wagon Days  Ketchum, Idaho

report by Diana Miller


photo by Gary Hoffman


Dr. Gary and Mrs. Connie Hoffman were the organizers of the poetry and music portion. They were fantastic hosts and treated the musicians and poets like honored guests who were old friends. Their warm hospitality was very much appreciated.

photo by Gary Hoffman
The Budweiser Clydesdales with Dalmatian mascot up on the wagon

photo by Gary Hoffman
50th anniversary Wagon Days Parade; miniature horses

After the enthusiastic parade down Main Street, the crowd gathered in Forest Service Park to hear the musicians and poetry. Hosts Gary and Connie Hoffman each recited a poem, then Larry Lawson from Twin Falls played his guitar and sang some good cowboy tunes.

photo by Diana and Harold Roy Miller
Event organizers Connie and Gary Hoffman

photo by Diana and Harold Roy Miller
Larry Lawson

Next up was Saddle Strings, a band from Northern Utah, who stole the show with their clear, harmonious voices and skillful playing. Their cowboy lyrics took you straight back to the range.

photo by Gary Hoffman
Saddlestrings: Laurie Morgan, Brian Arnold, Cindy Argyle, Curt Argyle and Bud Brown

Local poet Jo Ellen Collins read some of her original poems.

photo by Diana and Harold Roy Miller
Jo Ellen Collins

Harold Roy Miller entertained the crowd with his humorous cowboy poetry, and Diana Miller recited Harold’s poems from a woman’s point of view. Then the musicians started again and we all had a second go-round. After the show the performers were treated to a delicious barbecue dinner at Gary and Connie’s beautiful home overlooking the golf course.

photo by Diana Miller
Harold Roy Miller


photo by Harold Roy Miller
Diana Miller

August, 2008
16th Annual Stony Plain Gathering  Stony Plain, Alberta  

report and photos by Mag Mawhinney



16th Annual 


Aug. 15-17th, 2008


The blazing Alberta sun couldn’t compete with the HOT lineup of stars who performed at this year’s Stony Plain Gathering.  About 2000 dedicated (and new) western fans braved the 90+ heat to listen to some of the finest talent in the country.


Stella Stevens from radio station 790 CFCW, one of the festival’s biggest sponsors, MC’d  Friday’s feature performances.  Rising Star nominee, Brett Kissel and master lyricist, Gary Fjellgaard warmed up the mics with “Drifting Cowboy” and that got folks’ attention in a hurry.  Besides their own songs, these two amazing performers have been singing duets to some of Gary’s songs at events around the country since Brett recorded Gary’s “Dance With This Old Cowboy.”  They received a standing ovation from an enthusiastic crowd of about 800, who packed the Pavilion.  But they weren’t the only ones who received acclamation for their wonderful talents. There were fans for every one of the 25 performers. 


Two musicians who had the crowd spellbound were Bob Glidden and Jake Peters.  Bob, accompanied by his son, Ted (18) on the guitar, could literally make his dobro sing to songs like “Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain.”  Jake was a virtuoso on any stringed instrument he picked up on stage and he proudly presented two of his protégées, Ryan Schroeder on banjo and Kerry Epp on violin  These twenty-year-olds played like old pros and were very well received by an appreciative audience.  AWA award-winning poets, B.J. Smith and Doris Daley were both outstanding!  Their humorous and serious recitations were flawlessly delivered with a stage presence that could only be admired.  Folks enjoyed singer Randy Smith, who showed off his vocal range with his own songs and some country classics. He even threw in his own humorous twist on a Marty Robbins tune, “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me.”  Singer Harry Rusk, who has appeared on the Opry stage, got plenty of applause too with songs like, “Rest High On That Mountain.”


Mag Mawhinney reciting in the Heritage Church

Other than Gary Fjellgaard who lives in B.C., the only “outriders” in this year’s roundup of performers were Montana singer/poet D.W. Groethe and me (B.C.).  Award-winning D.W. bent everyone’s ears to a dramatic recitation of “My Father’s Horses” and followed it with a funny song/poem “When True Love Runs Thin.”  His thought-provoking, unique style was definitely a winner with the crowd.


The Smith sisters in the Pavilion


Some youngsters, who appeared at this year’s gathering, absolutely thrilled everyone within earshot.  Billie-Jo (13) and Micki-Lee (11) Smith certainly deserved to open for Brett and Gary on Friday night. Their dazzling fiddle playing and great singing ability had everyone staring in amazement. Charlotte (13) and Sarah (9), the Command Sisters’ bubbly personalities and wonderful harmony wowed the crowd and twelve-year-old Kayla Patrick sang some classics with a voice and stage presence well beyond her years.


Throughout the weekend, the two smaller venues, the Heritage Church and Pioneer Museum Tea House, quite often had people spilling out of the doorways, listening to open-mic performances.  In the Pavilion on Sunday, poet and preacher, Don Wudel, opened Cowboy Church with a prayer, followed by many of the entertainers showing their spiritual side in rhyme and song.  A special moment had everyone joining the Gathering’s Past-Pres. John Lindsay’s wife, Carmen, in singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Then Don continued with the service in his personable style, full of humor and grace.


Dedicated volunteer and poet Dianne Brandson looked after the sales of performers’ products and organized the many artisans, displaying a variety of western wares.  On Saturday, more tables were lined with farmers’ market produce about 80 Rv'ers in the compound had a chance to fill their larders before heading down the trail.



Ed Fairweather of Wild Texas Bar B Que

I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into the Fairweather’s Wild Texas Bar B Que dinner on Friday. As usual, it was tenderly delicious—beef, ribs, salads and dessert! The Green Room Committee pampered all the performers with plenty of good food all weekend and the Tea House’s blueberry pancake breakfasts, soups, sandwiches and scrumptious pies had many running back for more.  Nobody escaped the charm of Iris Ursuliak and her Tea House crew, who served it all with friendly smiles.


Blazing fires in two steel tractor wheels lured many to the campfire circles after the evening features and first-time Gathering President Jackson Mackenzie welcomed everyone with his warmth and humor.  He made a point of asking every person around the circle if they’d like to participate in rhyme or song…and many did.  From what I saw and heard at this Gathering, I think Jackson, Committee and Volunteers can take a big bow for a job well done.


Ryan Schroeder, Jake Peters, Ian VanDuesen, Jessi, Festival Pres. Jackson Mackenzie


August, 2008
21st Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering  Prescott, Arizona

  report by Mike Dunn


The 21st Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering was a resounding success. The committee had its work cut out from the very beginning and came up with a winner. Due to remodeling at the Sharlot Hall Museum, the gathering was moved to Prescott's Yavapai College. The setting will allow the gathering to continue to grow which was a draw back at the museum. At the college, rooms are larger, more parking and the folks at the college could not have been better to get along with. I'm thinking the gathering may have found themselves a new home.

For the performers, committee, sponsors, and special guests, the gathering started Thursday evening with a reception at the historic Hassayampa Inn. The next morning many performers visited schools and, rest homes, and the VA Hospital. The gathering kicked off at noon in the Yavapai Performance Hall with a welcome from Jim Buchanan (this years Trail Boss), invocation by Steve Lindsey, guest speaker Jim Horton (college president) and some great entertainment from Chris Isaacs, Sam DeLeeuw, Gail Starr, and Sid Hausman. Sessions then continued until 5:00 when many gathered at the Phippen Museum for another reception, food and entertainment from Gail Starr, Randy Huston & his lovely daughter Hannah.

After a bit of visiting and viewing of great cowboy art, most made ready for some great evening entertainment back at the
college. Hosted by Neil Abbott the line-up included Suzi Killman &
Sally Harper Bates, Rolf Flake, Joel Nelson, Bimbo Cheney, Mike Prince, finishing out the evening were Jean and Gary Prescott. One of the evening's highest points was when Arizona born, ranch raised cowgirl/song writer/poet Suzi Killman received this year's Gail E. Gardner Award. The evening was a good one.

Saturday seemed non-stop from 9 to 5, even with the larger rooms, sessions were packed. Along with those evening performers, day time performances also included Neil & Mary Abbott, Lee Brimhall, Joe Baer, Jerry Brooks, Buckshot Dot, Don Cadden, Jan Choate-Richins, Lola & Harry Chiantaretto, Joette Conley Trombi, Daisy Dillard, Mike Dunn, Phil Ellsworth, Audrey Hawkins, Randy & Hannah Huston, Sid Hausman, Chris Isaacs, Sue Jones, Niles Jones, Mary Leavitt, Bertha Monroe, Janet Moore, David, Rusty, and Deanna McCall, Nika Nordbrock, Vess Quinlan, Frank
, Gail Steiger, Lyle Suttill, Marshall Trimble, Marge Tucker and a special show with Washtub Jerry & Glenn Moreland, and another from the Arizona Old Time Fiddlers and a few I'm sure I missed. The only problem with the day time performances was ya couldn't see'um all.

Saturday evening show was as well performed as the evening before. Hosted by Sally Harper Bates, adding to her performance, she brought on Steve Lindsey, Ray Fitzgerald, Kay Kelly Nowell, Gary Robertson and The Desert Sons.

Many thanks to the committee, sponsors, volunteers, performers, and folks that came to listen. Hope to see you all again next year.

August, 2008
Wild Horse Sanctuary Open House  Shingletown, California

  Report and photos by Susan Parker



Wild Horse Sanctuary
Shingletown, California

August 16, 2008


The poetry and music were as hot as the weather! Though Saturday’s temperatures didn’t quite reach that of Friday’s 110°+, folks were not deterred from attending the Annual Open House and Fundraiser at the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown, California. 

As a way of saying thanks to its supporters, and to create more public awareness about the plight of the wild horses, the Sanctuary holds this event each August. The fun-filled afternoon invited folks to participate in wild horse walking tours, horseback rides for kids, face painting, and a dunking tank (a much needed reprieve from the heat), along with a variety of demonstrations relating to horseshoeing, grooming, saddling, and working stock dogs.   

Sheltered within the hay barn, cooled slightly by a balmy breeze, cowboy poetry and music resounded. Backed by the whinnies and nickers of Roc, a handsome bay roan and Cloud, a beautiful black and white paint, co-emcees Mike Harkins of Santa Rosa and poet Susan Parker of Benicia kicked off the event promptly at 1 pm. Susan recited her original poetry inspired by her experiences over the years of trail rides at the Sanctuary, including Painted Pony, the story of a frisky colt she happened upon while on a ride in the mid 1980s.  She also performed the title track of her new CD, She Rode a Wild Horse, as well as a couple of poems from her “Vanishing Voices” project, poetry written by the pioneering women of the west.

Jim Cardwell

Other poets included Jim Cardwell of Oroville who recited his now famous Buckaroo Vang. Jim also played the guitar singing his now “infamous” The Los Banos Bypass Talking Blues

Larry Brockman

Larry Brockman, a lifetime resident of Shasta County, recited poems he wrote, one of which honored Gunny Denny written for her 80th birthday titled A Beautiful Lady We All Call Gunny, and another written to honor long time area residents Bruce and Elna Barron, titled For Bruce and Elna.    

Wayne Wendle

A new poet to this year’s event was Wayne Wendle of Santa Rosa.  Wayne fell hard for the classics after hearing works written by S. Omar Barker, Bruce Kiskaddon, and Will Ogilvie recited by Joel Nelson and Waddie Mitchell in Elko in 1991.  Wayne held the audience spellbound with his recitation of Frank Desprez’s Lasca. 

Bruce Barron, Bernice “Gunny” Denny, and Lloyd Raeg

Playing old-time hits like She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain When She Comes and Oh Suzanna! were local favorites Bruce Barron (88 years young!) on the guitar and harmonica, guitar-playing singer and yodeler Bernice “Gunny” Denny (a spry 81 years young, needing no helping-hand to climb the hay bales up to the flat bed trailer serving as the stage!), and Lloyd Raeg on the banjo.  Gunny, originally from Shelby, Montana, told me that she taught herself how to play guitar by listening to Montana Slim on the radio.  Problem was her family home didn’t have electricity.  So her brother hooked up a windmill to a series of car batteries that charged a generator that in turn played the radio!  When WWII broke out, wanting to do her part, Gunny went to nursing school so she could help take care of injured troops.  She told me “her music got her through the lonesome of being away from home.” 

Ray Mitcham and Ron Legnon

Ray Mitcham of Shingletown on guitar accompanied by Ron Legnon of Fremont also on guitar played some oldies like Cool Water as well as more contemporary songs such as Love Hurts.

Wild Mountaineers String Band

Rounding out the musicians was the folk group from Butte County, Wild Mountaineers String Band, comprised of vocalist “Laurel Woodsorrel” Paulson-Pierce on guitar and a Swedish instrument called a nykelharpa, “Wrangler Rick” Vagts on fiddle, and vocalist “Buckwheat Bob” Harrison on guitar, playing such songs as Liberty (renamed Wild and Free in honor of the Sanctuary), 16th Avenue made popular by Lacy J. Dalton, an avid supporter of the Wild Horse Sanctuary, and my personal favorite, Home Grown Tomatoes.  

Founded in 1978 in order to rescue 80 wild horses living on public land that were set to be destroyed, the founders of the Wild Horse Sanctuary made a major life decision to rescue these unwanted horses and create a safe home for them. The Wild Horse Sanctuary is a non-profit, tax exempt, public foundation and 5,000 acre preserve dedicated to the protection and preservation of America's wild horses. It is currently supported by contributions from individuals and organizations with a wide range of backgrounds that share a common concern for wildlife, the environment, and our American heritage. Read more at

Next year’s event will be held on August 15, 2009.  Anyone interested in participating should contact Susan Parker at



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



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