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Rupert (Idaho) November
Valentine (Nebraska) October
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Heber City (Utah) November
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Diamondfield Jack Cowboy Poetry Gathering Rupert, Idaho
report by Bobbie Hunter with photos by Estella Robinson
Diamondfield Jack Cowboy Poetry Gathering
The quiet little town of Rupert, Idaho, is home to the historic Wilson Theater, a magnificent opera house of the 1920's era. Through years of neglect the edifice fell into a state of disrepair, but like a phoenix (and due to the efforts of the Rupert Renaissance Initiative), the Wilson Building and Theater began a long and arduous journey toward renovation. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in January 2001, the building now plays host to the annual Cowboy Poets of Idaho gathering known as Diamondfield Jack. Fading echoes of the gathering add to the rich and diverse history of that stately building.
Held on November 7, 8, and 9, 2008, the Diamondfield Jack event was organized under the capable hands of Wayne and Becky Nelson, Earl and Sandy White, Chris Jackson, John Berglund, Lloyd Ramsey, and Twila Chapman, with sound and tech services under the direction of Les Merrill.
Sponsored by Simplot, SulfeGro, and numerous local entities, the gathering enjoyed the support of appreciative audiences who truly enjoyed the music and poems shared by many talented artists. New to the gathering was the addition of a craft show where local artisans displayed their wares. The Wilson Theater was replete with creativity on every level.
With Sam Mattise as auctioneer, the annual fund-raiser gained proceeds for the organization as donated items went on the auction block. From books to hats, pillows to blankets, pails of SulfeGro to home decorations, all items were going once, going twice, gone--sold to the highest bidder!
A yearly tradition of the Diamondfield Jack gathering is the "Truth Without End" competition. Of the several contestants, Vern Woodbury won the event, with Bobbie Hunter as first runner-up. The tall tales made for a very lively and entertaining session. Mind you, not a word of it was true!
The Friday night show was emceed by Gordon Peterson and included in the line-up were: Marcus Meek, Looselip Pinson, Layle Bagley, Snake River Wayne Nelson, Bob and Marion Baird, and Bobbie Hunter (all from Idaho). Representing other states were: Larry Gibson, Val Prophet and Jamie Baker from Montana; and Ken Wellard (Utah).
Layle Bagley once again surprised the audience as he donned various costumes and assumed amazing personalities to act as emcee for the Saturday night show. The performers included: Destiny Hunzeker, Allan and Corean Romriell, Gordon Peterson, Sam Mattise, Linda and Les Merrill with granddaughter Mackyla, Miss Ellie, Garde Bowman, Vern Woodbury, and the Fall River Boys (Mark Seeley and Rand Hillman), all of Idaho. Keven Inman represented the state of Washington.
Fall River Boys
Also performing were Elden Thompson, Tommie Patton, Don Shelman, and Loyd Warnick, all from Idaho.
Others performing in the event included Adren Gailey and Estella and Cliff Robinson.
Sunday morning found folks lined up, waiting to find seats for Cowboy Church. A good mix of music and poetry helped to close out the weekend, sending folks home on a "Sunday-morning high."
A definitive date for the 2009 Diamondfield Jack gathering has not been set as of this writing, but will be either the weekend before or the weekend after Veteran's Day. In either case, the date will be posted well in advance of the actual event, so check your sources as November 2009 approaches--you'll want to be there!
17th Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days Valentine, Nebraska
[photo of Slim McNaught by Jen Dobrowski]
(see an additional report by Willard Hollopeter here)
17th Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering & Old West Days
“The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men…”! Well, that’s the way it goes. Ran into some problems with my picture program so I am running behind with this report. But one thing for sure, the Old West Days committee for the Valentine, Nebraska 17th Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering held October 9 through 12, 2008, sure laid some of the best plans we’ve seen yet. I wonder how they are going to top this one. We’ll start right out with a picture of these folks and a tip of our hat to them.
The festivities started Thursday evening at 7:30 with the Old Time Melodrama taking place in the High School Theatre. This event is always a hit with the audience. These performers put a lot of work into this production.
Sessions were held Friday in the Auditorium from 9:00 o’clock until 5:00 o’clock, and in the Commons Area from 1:00 o’clock until 5:00 o’clock. Saturday sessions were from 9:00 o’clock until noon in the Auditorium and 9:00 o’clock until noon in the Commons Area. At 1:00 o’clock the Western Art, Trade and Quilt Show opened in the High School gymnasium with a wide assortment of goods, quilts, and conversationalists.
Friday morning started out great with host, Al Mehl introducing Marilyn Herrmann, Slim McNaught, Jo Nickel and Phil Crawford. The next session was hosted by Yvonne Hollenbeck with Ken Cook, Lance Johnson, Edgar Clemens, and Bruce Coslor. The last session before the dinner hour was hosted by Jean Prescott and we were entertained by Marilyn Herrmann, Marci Broyhill, Teresa Kay, Rick Buoy, and the Carr Family Band.
At 1:00 o’clock host Phil Crawford brought on the Carr Family Band, Zeb Dennis, Bill May, and Miss V, followed at 2:00 o’clock by host Gary Prescott introducing Helene Landenberger, Paul Larsen, Curt Cooper, and R.P. Smith. Then at 3:00 o’clock host Tim Nolting teamed up with Don Schauda, Miss V, Otto Rosfeld, and Sam Noble. The last session of the day in the Auditorium was designated to local poets with host Marty Blocker performing with Ken Moreland, Otto Rosfeld, Ken Cook, and Willard Hollopeter.
Friday performances in the Commons Area began at 1:00 o’clock as host Bonnie Krogman with Rick Buoy, Bruce Coslor, Lance Johnson, and Sam Noble entertained until 2:00 o’clock when host Al Mehl brought out Phil Crawford, Slim McNaught, Marilyn Herrmann, and Don Schauda. At 3:00 host Paul Larsen shared the stage with Bill May, Helene Landenberger, Teresa Kay, and Marci Broyhill. The last session at 4:00 o’clock was hosted by Pop Wagner, with R.P. Smith, Jo Nickle, Zeb Dennis, Ken Cook, and Curt Cooper.
The Friday evening performance started at 7:30 and the entertainers were enjoyed by a nearly sold out crowd. Host Gary Prescott along with Jean Prescott, Liz Masterson, Bonnie Krogman, and Yvonne Hollenbeck provided almost two hours of great entertainment. I must extend a sincere apology here to Bonnie Krogman. Due to problems with my picture program I lost some pictures, hers was one of several. Bonnie is an excellent cowboy poet, writing poetry about the every day life of a ranch wife. After the performance the artist’s table was well attended by the crowd, buying books and CDs and visiting with the entertainers. The Friday evening jam session started about 10:00 o’clock PM and lasted until after 1:00 o’clock in the morning with most of the performers of the day entertaining a packed house at the Holiday Inn Express Conference Room. We truly missed our regular jam session host, Wally Bazyn, who has hosted this event for several years. Health problems prevented Wally from attending.
Saturday morning got off to a good start at 9:00 o’clock in the Choral Room with a Music and Song Writing Workshop with Jean and Gary Prescott. In the Auditorium things got going with host Yvonne Hollenbeck as she entertained with Ken Moreland, Helene Landenberger, and Brook Jamison followed at 10:00 o’clock by host Pop Wagner bringing out Zeb Dennis, Ken Cook, Otto Rosfeld, and Bill May. The last session of the day in the Auditorium started at 11:00 o’clock with host Edgar Clemens joined by Teresa Kay, Marci Broyhill, Brook Jamison, Sam Noble, and the Carr Family Band. In the Commons Area, Saturday sessions began at 9:00 o’clock with host Ken Cook introducing Lance Johnson, Don Schauda, Curt Cooper, Edgar Clemens. The next session saw host Tim Nolting with Jo Nickle, Miss V, Paul Larsen, and Marty Blocker. The last session of the day in the Commons Area was hosted by Al Mehl with Phil Crawford, Marilyn Herrmann, Bruce Coslor and Slim McNaught.
The Saturday afternoon Cowboy Music Performance in the Theatre was a crowd pleasing event with performers hosted by Al Mehl, introducing Pop Wagner, Jean and Gary Prescott, O’Brien Family Band and Liz Masterson bringing great entertainment to the program. The Saturday evening event was performed in front of a full house as Liz Masterson hosted Al Mehl, Pop Wagner, Tim Nolting, and the O’Brien Family Band to two hours of the best entertainment in the country. What an amazing lineup of talent was presented this weekend by the Old West Days Committee. Our hats are off to them for a job well done.
Saturday night jam session was about a repeat of the night before. The great thing about the jam sessions is that we get to practice our material on those souls who brave the late night to honor us by listening.
One sad note: Friday morning while setting up their booth, Jarene Welling was notified that their house and workshop had been completely destroyed by fire. Jarene and her husband Keith, along with Tasha Welling and Kari Monroe, produce a line of handmade gifts, tack, and home attire. Keith does an excellent job of making bits. When news of the fire spread through the gathering, Al Mehl put his hat on the table in the hallway with the Welling’s business card displayed and the outpouring of donations by this ranching community was nothing short of fantastic. The hat made several trips and many folks left donations at the Old West Days Committee booth. When I visited Jarene she was still in shock. All of their tools, inventory supplies, personal belongings, etc., were destroyed. Keith had just gotten a substantial order for bits and now has no tools or shop to produce them. To replace the loss will prove difficult. Our thoughts and prayers go out to these folks in this time of tragedy. But, as Jarene said, no one was injured and their faith will get them through the hard time ahead. True cow country folks. But that’s the kind of people we are around here.
Sixth Annual Cowboy Poetry Night at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum Regina, Saskatchewan
report by Bud Edgar (www.ComedyCowboy.com), with photos by Bud Edgar and Calvin Fehr
photo by Bud Edgar
The Sixth Annual Cowboy Poetry Night at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, was held Saturday, November 22nd, 2008.
About 250 people attended the event, which started at 6 PM with supper and western tunes by Kathy Stochmal, Malcolm McLeod, and Don Modderman.
photo by Calvin Fehr
Bud Edgar with Margot Mack of the Museum
The show started at 8 with Phyllis Rathwell as M.C. and opened with poet Larry Miller, followed by trick roper, Bud Edgar. There was a 15 minute intermission, and the show started again with poet Phyllis Rathwell and poet/singer Ed Brown closing the show.
For more information, visit www.royalsaskmuseum.ca.
Dates not yet received
The 20th Annual Cowboy Christmas Poetry Gathering Wickenburg, Arizona
story by Kay Hanson
WICKENBURG’S 20th ANNUAL
COWBOY CHRISTMAS GATHERING
Under the direction of Julie Brooks, Executive Director of the Wickenburg, Arizona Chamber of Commerce, the 20th Annual Cowboy Christmas Gathering was held in historic Wickenburg, and was without a doubt one of the finest gatherings in the West. This 145-year-old ranching community is the ideal place to hold such a gathering of old friends, poets, singers and storytellers. Wickenburg is listed as one of the top ten true western towns and this would have to be one of the top ten true cowboy gatherings.
A “Cowboy Cocktail Reception” was held on Friday evening, December 5, at the beautiful Desert Caballeros Western Museum, where participants enjoyed beautiful western artwork and displays, and were also entertained by the music of Gary & Jean Prescott of Texas, and poetry by the award-winning Yvonne Hollenbeck of South Dakota.
Saturday, December 6, began with a cowboy dutch-oven breakfast, followed by programs throughout the day at the Community Center, featuring Mike Dunn, Phil Ellsworth, Chris Isaacs, Jane Morton and Dick Morton, Rolf Flake, Lyle Suttill, Suzi Killman, Tom Weathers, Sally Bates, Jim Dunham, Samuel Brown and the youth poetry winners.
Saturday night’s evening performance at the Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts featured the Gary and Jean Prescott, Yvonne Hollenbeck, and Red Steagall.
Sunday events capped off the weekend with a cowboy worship service, and an afternoon performance of “Cowgirl Christmas” with Caroline Markham.
Attendance at this year’s gathering was excellent and was enjoyed by not only those attending but also by the performers. The committee is already planning next year’s event which is always held the first weekend in December. For more information contact www.wickenburgchamber.com or call 800-942-5242
14th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Buckaroo Fair Heber City, Utah
story and photos by Jo Lynne Kirkwood
Despite early musings about how recent downturns in the economy might affect attendance, the 2008 Heber City Cowboy Poetry and Buckaroo Fair boasted record crowds and an exceptional lineup of entertainment. The Heber City Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Buckaroo Fair is a huge event, and even naming all the participants could take more room than I’m allowed for this column*. But I will single out and share with you some highlights. Two of my favorite shows were Michael Martin Murphey with the UVSC Symphony, which was the headliner event of Thursday night and has been a crowd favorite other years as well, and Tom Russell’s concert on Friday evening. This was Russell’s first year at the Gathering, but it was apparent from the audience’s enthusiastic reception that it won’t be his last. Tom Russell is already scheduled for the 2010 event.
It was a real treat for me to hear Patty Clayton, who performed solo at the event this year. Her finely crafted music and exquisite voice make for a delightful performance. Juni Fisher was also on hand, and as always, a welcome addition. Belinda Gail and Curly Musgrave are regulars at the gathering, and their music adds much. The Quebe Sisters are loved wherever they go, and Doris Daley made the trek from Canada and added her style and wit. Waddie Mitchell has become an annual institution, and hosts the entire event with his own unique brand of humor and cowboy charm.
For 2008 the Heber City Gathering added a second poetry express train, which is one of the traditional and unique parts of this festival. The historic Heber Creeper railroad is no longer the cross-country passenger transport it was in its heyday, but folks who climb aboard the ancient cars to experience an hour or so of fine entertainment while they take in a scenic tour of the Wasatch County countryside tell us over and over that “the train” is the part of the gathering they look forward to most.
The Horse Extravaganza at the Wasatch County Events Center is another annual tradition at the gathering, and this year the Extravaganza included a Wild West Show and a colt-starting clinic with Jim Hicks. Every year the Extravaganza features poets and musicians on horseback, and crowds learn horsemanship skills while being entertained in the finest traditions of the west.
Gordon Thomas, Phil Kennington, Paul Bliss, and Kenny Hall
Utah was well represented at Utah’s premier gathering, providing the majority of poets and several fine music groups. Saddle Strings performed, as did STAMPEDE!. Sam DeLeeuw and Don Kennington are two of the best cowboy humorists to be found anywhere, and Jeff Carson also took his best shot, which is pretty dang good.
Paul Bliss, CR Wood, and Jean Wood
Other Utah poets featured were CR Wood, Paul Bliss, Curly Syndergaard, Marion Manwill, Gordon Thomas, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Fred Engel, and Stan Tixier. Judy and Jan Erickson ("The Drifter and Miss Judy") joined us for music, along with Kenny Hall and Richard Lee Cody. Sammi and Bill Snow Jr. drove in from Colorado for the weekend, and Brooke Turner, from Iowa, also stepped onto stage. It was a lot of fun, too, to see many other CPU members at the gathering, taking their turns on the open mic stage and thoroughly enjoying a fine weekend of cowboy entertainment. It seemed like every time we turned around there was an old friend to say “howdy.”
Swasie Bliss, Jacob Winterton, Caib, Aubree, Braden and Chance Brian
One of my favorite parts of the Heber City Gatherings is the youth poets’ set, and this year the Sagebrush Stage played host to Swasie Bliss, Jacob Winterton, and Caib Brian, Braden Brian, Chance Brian and Aubree Brian. The kids are growing up, and they just seem to keep on getting better.
Wylie & the Wild West provided music for a dance in the gym on Saturday night, and I do have to say it was one of the best dances we’ve ever attended at a gathering. Great music, excellent crowd, and a whole lot of fun. The gathering ended Sunday, with cowboy church and then a special Sunday brunch hosted by the local Zermott Hotel.
Scheduling is already underway for the 2009 gathering, which makes Heber City’s fifteenth year. Tom and Linda Whitaker, festival coordinators, along with Mary Kelly and the entire Heber City Cowboy Poetry and Buckaroo Fair committee, are planning a spectacular event which will take place in a brand-new facility and will feature a huge line-up of top performers. You can go online even now and see what’s in store—www.hebercitycowboypoetry.com—and you quickly discover just where you’ll want to be November 3rd through 8th, 2009: Heber City, Utah!
*This report first appeared in the newsletter of the Cowboy Poets of Utah, www.cowboypoetsofutah.org
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