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(Some links may be out of date.)

2009 Reports



Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering (Texas) February

Texas Crossroads Cowboy Gathering (Texas) February


On page 1:

"Campfire Tales" at the Fort Worth Stock Show (Texas) January

Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering (Arizona) February (2 reports)

Gila River Heritage Round-Up (Arizona) February

Moab's Western Stars (Utah) February

See April-June reports here.
See July-August reports here.
See September reports here.
See October reports here.
See November reports here.

See reports from 2008 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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February, 2009
23rd Annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering   (Sul Ross) Alpine, Texas

  report by Linda Kirkpatrick
Linda Kirkpatrick photo by Jeri Dobrowski


Doris Daley
photo by M. Knowler

with photos by Pam and David Chance;
find more photos at Pam Chance's web site:


23rd Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering
February, 2009
Alpine, Texas

Linda Kirkpatrick, with two-cents’ worth added by Doris Daley

photo by David Chance
Joel Nelson

Could it have been the great weather? Could it have been the location? Could it have been the cowboys or maybe just being in West Texas? Whatever the reason or combination there of, the campus of Sul Ross University was the gathering place of cowboys, cowgirls and the people who love to hear their poems and music. The voices and music echoed from the Davis Mountains, leaving you to think you were at a cowboy version of “The Sound of Music” (although as far as we know no one’s shirt was made out of the curtains.)

From the open mics first thing each morning to the last session of the afternoon, a quick stroll would find all rooms full to capacity. The record crowds, surely among the most affectionate and enthusiastic in the west, were made up of faithful, repeat fans plus a huge number of first-timers, including one from across the pond.

photo by DavidChance
Jean Prescott

Thursday evening the performers gathered at the Poets’ Party to just sit and visit over a Mexican-style buffet where the main meat was buffalo. The Poets’ Party is always a time that everyone really looks forward to, because for some it may have been a year since they last visited. The lack of rain was probably the main topic of discussion.

If you have never been to the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering I must tell you that you have missed a breathtaking experience. Each day begins with breakfast prepared around a camp fire. You have the smoke, camp coffee, eggs, biscuits and gravy just like in the days of old. Five tips of our hats to the cooks and volunteers.

Friday and Saturday mornings kicked off with the best open mic sessions around, emceed by Linda Kirkpatrick and Buck Helton. Thirty poets and musicians signed up and the rooms were standing-room-only. Two rooms were opened to accommodate all the open mic performers. Poet Doris Daley remarked, “The caliber of entertainment at the open mic sessions in Alpine is equal to a feature show at other gatherings.”

photo by Pam Chance
Teresa Burleson performed at the open mic

photo by Pam Chance
Charles Williams performed at the open mic

While top notch cowboy music plays a dynamic and important role in Alpine, one of the distinguishing features of the Texas Gathering is its enduring emphasis on the spoken word—no surprise for those who know committee member Joel Nelson, one of the west's most respected poets and reciters. Friday and Saturday morning both started off with a session entitled Let's Talk About Poetry, and the discussion both mornings was lively, inspired, informed and passionate. Support of the spoken word was given by Andy Wilkinson, Nika Nordbrock and others.

On Friday morning the Welcome by Dr. R. Vic Morgan, head of the Sul Ross Department of Agricultural and Natural Resource Management, was enhanced by headliners Doris Daley, Michael and Dawn Moon, and Dave Stamey. Following them, Jeff Gore and Washtub Jerry did their tremendous “Tribute to Marty Robbins.”

photo by Pam Chance
Doris Daley

Beginning at 2:00, deciding which session to attend was a really difficult decision. There were three different sets throughout the afternoon and each set had nine sessions, making it pretty hard to figure out where and who to see. However, no one complained!

The Friday night show, “Night Time under the Western Stars,” featured Master of Ceremonies Joel Nelson (Texas) and headliners Doris Daley (Canada) and Rod Taylor (New Mexico) along with Jay Snider (Oklahoma), Don Hedgepeth (Texas) and Pat Meade (Iowa).

photo by Pam Chance
Jay Snider

Oh but the day was not over yet! Sheriff Jim Wilson hosted a jam-packed show at the renovated Granada theatre in downtown Alpine. I am not sure what time it ended, but I stayed to the end. Sleep is something that is not important this weekend. There were smaller jam sessions at the Best Western and other places.

Saturday was a full-day repeat of Friday with the addition of the grand opening of the “Trappings of Texas,” held at the Museum of the Big Bend. What an awesome experience.

photo by Pam Chance
Dave Stamey

The Saturday night show The Saturday night show featured Master of Ceremonies Michael Stevens and headliners Jack Sammon (Australia) and Dave Stamey (California), was another standing-room-only event. Chris Isaacs (Arizona), Glenn Moreland (Texas), Washtub Jerry (Texas), Dawn and Michael Moon (Colorado) and Rusty McCall (New Mexico). Rusty was facing major brain surgery only a few days away and his positive outlook of it all moved everyone to tears and laughter. Rusty said that he could not figure out why he was having brain surgery, because everyone who knew him knew that he didn’t have a brain anyway. Rusty is a very strong individual and we wish him all the best in the world.

photo by Pam Chance
Rusty McCall, doing what he does best: making people laugh (Jim Jones
and Jim Wilson)

For the past four years a commemorative pair of spurs has been raffled off and this year the winner was Rusty’s mom, cowgirl Deanna McCall! Everyone was excited and delighted that she won. Wilson Capron was the maker of this year’s spurs.

photo by Pam Chance
Deanna McCall

The Texas Trailhands of Ft. Worth played for the dance, a fabulous group of musicians and vocalists featuring Devon Dawson.

But all good things come to an end and that is what happens here. The final session was the Sunday morning Cowboy Church Service sponsored by Michael’s Mountain Ministries featuring Karen and Brad McGuire.

Congratulations to Apache Adams, the recipient of the Heritage Award. This award recognizes those who work to promote and preserve the way of the cowboy through poems, stories and songs.

photo by Pam Chance
Joel Nelson presenting Apache Adams with the Heritage Award for 2009

Congratulations are also extended to Kay Taylor Burnett. The 23rd Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering was dedicated to her for her help and support in promoting the gathering.

I am quite sure that everyone’s trip home found vehicles filled with the sound of new music and poetry CDs, just recently purchased at the Cowboy Mercantile. Nelson Sager and his fine group of folks of Sigma Tau Delta did a great job of conducting the sale of CDs and books for the performers. This service was greatly appreciated by all of us.

So on behalf of the 48 performers, the underwriters, the sponsors and volunteers, the Steering Committee, everyone else involved and especially you, the audience, “Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!” Circle next year’s date right now, February 26, 27, 28, 2010. This is an event that you don’t want to miss.

photo by Pam Chance
Parker McCauley

photo by Pam Chance
Nessye Mae Roach

From up-and-coming Parker McCauley at the open mic to veteran Nessye Mae Roach,
the 23rd Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering had it all!

February, 2009
Texas Crossroads Cowboy Gathering  Van Horn, Texas

report and photo by Patricia Golden

We knew something was going to happen when our last minute welcome mixer on Thursday night turned out to be 5 tables pulled together at the Cattle Company with about 20 people stretched out across the steakhouse. We sat eating, drinking and talking with 16 out of town performers.

Four months ago, give or take, Bob Kinford came up with an impossible dream to bring cowboy poets, storytellers, and musicians to Van Horn, with a want to create a crossroads to other venues to give a performer a shot at an invitation to a bigger gathering.

Well, that was just the beginning. Friday was the test, and the cowboys rolled in with musical instruments, audio equipment, CD’s, books, videos, and their memorized stories and poems, and all the trapping of western wear. By 11:30 AM the stage was set and the mic was open to the spoken word. The Van Horn Convention Center was hoppin’ with excitement. Catie Kinford had a table full of her beautiful arts and crafts, so the action wasn’t just limited to the stage. During the evening show a delicious dinner was catered by Van Horn’s Shanna Roberts, and the Prairie Moon Band filled the Grand Hall with lively country music.

photo by Patricia Golden taken at Alpine
Prairie Moon Band from Wichita Falls, Texas. Members are
Will Sullivan, David Holcomb, and brothers Ron, Michael and Tim Callaway.

Folks dropped in and out to view and hear the 2 day long open mic with its Friday night Dinner Show and a Saturday night judging by Joe Baker and Charles Williams. Bob mentioned he knew of at least 6 people who pulled in off Interstate 10 after catching the show on their radios.

Performers came from all over: David McBroom, gospel poet from Houston; Buck Helton “The Big Man” from Dallas; Slim Farnsworth and Charlie Ware, two poets from Cedar Edge, Colorado; Prairie Moon Band from Wichita Falls, Texas (included Will Sullivan, David Holcomb, brothers Tim, Michael, and Ron Callaway); Bobby Neeley, storyteller and poet from Estancia, New Mexico; Curly Butts, poet from Bowie, Texas; Charles Williams, poet/storyteller and Campfire Tales events organizer and Executive Vice President from Ft. Worth; Phillip L. Crawford “Tumbleweed, poet/singer/songwriter from St. Francis, Kansas; Cade Schalla, poet and a Texas transplant from Montana; James Michael, singer/musician from nearby Las Cruces, New Mexico, who invited his delightful 90-year-young rodeo mom; Jim Hosea, from Brownwood, Texas; Paul Harris from western Arkansas (who was later invited to the Alpine gathering); Eleanor Taylor, poet/novelist from Fort Davis, Texas; and three Van Horn locals, storyteller Bob Kinford, first-time performer Gary Fuentes with tales of "ranching on the Rio," and poet Patricia Golden.

Bob Kinford thought of everything. He called upon the media, Joe Baker of Joe Baker’s Backforty Bunkhouse Productions out of Ruidoso, NM, and Tamara Boatright of Ralph’s Back Porch radio show out of San Augustine, Texas. They streamed audio and video via internet. We were LIVE to the world, 13 states and 14 foreign countries. How’s that Van Horn? We are on the big map!

Early Saturday morning I hitched a ride with Slim Farnsworth and Charlie Ware (it was fun listening to their yarn spinning). We headed for the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, Texas, to catch their open mic. It was “Head ‘em up, move’em out” as several of our performers made their way there to recite one poem, or one story, or one song within one hour, in one of three rooms. There was a crowd and I ran from room to room, standing at the doors trying to watch our entertainers. It was a great show, but I couldn’t catch it all.

I made the return trip with poet, Eleanor Taylor who was on her way to Van Horn for the Saturday open mic session. Eleanor read in Van Horn back in September for our Butterfield Commemoration. We made it back to the Convention Center and the program was underway at 20 minute intervals to the judges liking.

Prairie Moon won invites to both the Cowboy Symposium in Ruidoso, New Mexico and the Hatch Chili Festival in Hatch, New Mexico, as well as two tracks on Joe Baker’s Backforty Roundup CD. Cade Schalla also won a track on the CD. Plus, twelveperformers were invited to the Campfire Tales, held in conjunction with the Fort Worth Stock Show.

Everyone had a good time and I heard folks say a lot of good things about Van Horn: about the convenience, the nice people, the restaurants, and the accommodations, and that they would like to return. I do believe Texas Crossroads Cowboy Poetry Gathering will be back in 2010.



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



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