Cowboy Poetry and Western Life

Events and Festivals

Gathering Reports
2009

 

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(Some links may go out of date.)

2009 Reports

July - August
 

This is Page Two

Below:

Montpelier (Idaho) July
Lewistown (Montana) August

Roy and Fremont (Utah) June and August
Stony Plain (Alberta) August

 

On page 1:

Calgary (Alberta) July
Benicia (California) July
Lewiston (Idaho) July
Creswell (Oregon) July

On page 3:
Butte (Montana) July
 

See January-February reports here.
See April-June 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

 

Back to Events page . . .
Back on home . . .

 


August, 2009
17th Annual Stony Plain Gathering  Stony Plain, Alberta  

  report and photos by Doris Daley

The 17th Annual Stony Plain, Alberta Cowboy Festival

For cowboy poetry and music lovers in Western Canada, all roads lead to Stony Plain, Alberta on Aug 14-16, 2009 for the town's 17th annual festival celebrating cowboy poetry, music and art. Seventeen years means 17 opportunities to grow, refine and enhance this hugely popular event, and each year just builds and improves on the last.

Thanks to the support of Canadian Cowboy Country Magazine, highlights of the Stony Plain gathering can be seen on-line at www.canadiancowboy.ca/downthetrail. View clips from Stony Plain favourites Eli Barsi, Bryn Thiessen and Hugh McLennan, hot young rising star Brett Kissel, special California guest Sourdough Slim, and Juno award winner Gary Fjellgaard. Americans will be familiar with Fjellgaard's Reins of Glory, recorded by Jean Prescott, Prickly Pair, and many others. (Be sure to fast forward through the Doris Daley section....do I bob around on my toes like that during every performance?  Good grief! I think Sharky filled my boots with red ants!)



Crowd favourite Eli Barsi back in her old home town to
share her award-winning brand of western music.

Friday and Saturday night performers were deliberately reserved for their evening performances, guaranteeing huge night crowds and ensuring lots of variety during the day shows. The incomparable team work of Gary Fjellgaard and Brett Kissel highlighted the Friday night show, while Saturday night's feature showcased one of Alberta's most exciting and enjoyable country music shows: Alberta Country Music Legends (Bev Munro, Alfie Myhre, Pete Hicks, Joyce Smith and Randy Hollar) delivered a country music blockbuster that folks will remember for the next 17 festivals!

Special guests Sourdough Slim (California) and Sue Harris (Arizona) followed on the heels of 2008 special guest, Montana singer-songwriter DW Groethe. One or two top notch international performers ensures that Stony Plain fans are treated not only to tried-and-true Canadian favourites but also to some of the west's top entertainers.


Sharky and Chris Schauer and Randy Smith harmonize for cowboy church.


Full house crowd at the pavilion for cowboy church.
 

Huge accolades go to major sponsors Best Western Sunrise Inn and Suites, Boston Pizza Stony Plain, CFCW am 790, Decker Properties Inc., and the PTI Group. Many, many other local businesses make financial and in-kind donations, a real tribute to the level of community support in this great western town.

I haven't been to all 17 Stony Plain Gatherings, but I've sure been to most of them. I remember hail storms, campfires, tall tale contests, mud swamps, outdoor stages, weather so cold you could see your breath, weather so hot that even the shade from a barb wire fence felt good, nights when we danced to great pick-up bands, and almost two decades of laughs and tears on stage. Volunteers and committee members are among the West's best, and this year's crew, lead by Donna Cowan, was no exception. It was an honour to be among this year's performers: Eli Barsi, Ed Brown, The Command Sisters, Stewart McDougall, Hugh McLennan, Harry Rusk, Chris and Sharkey Schauer, BJ Smith, Randy Smith, Bryn Thiessen, The Alberta Country Music Legends, Gary Fjellgaard, Brett Kissel, Sue Harris, and Sourdough Slim. The 18th Stony Plain Festival will be another barnburner; be sure to flag www.stonyplaincowboypoetry.com for details.

 


August, 2009
Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering & Music Rendevous  Lewistown, Montana

  report by Jane Morton with photos by Dick Morton



The 24th Annual Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering & Western Music Rendezvous was held in Lewistown, Montana, August 14-16, 2009. This gathering is dedicated to the celebration and preservation of central Montana’s heritage and history,

After Elko, this is the oldest cowboy poetry gathering in the country. I was impressed by the fact that Montanans take their heritage seriously. I was amazed at how many participants in the daytime programs were descended from homesteaders, or were at least the fifth generation on the land. One doesn’t have to be invited to participate, one simply signs up. A handful of performers were from
other places, Canada, Wyoming, North Dakota, Colorado, Florida, and the other ninety percent were from Montana. Most of those grew up on or had lived on a ranch.


Mike Logan


The thing was, these people knew what they were talking about, and some of the poems, I believe, are already classics. Mike Logan wrote and performed “The Men Who Rode the Ranges,” Jim Hamilton’s poem, “The Changing of the Guard,” brought tears to a few eyes, Owen Badgett’s poem about his mule and his recitation of Bruce Kiskaddon’s “An Old Western Town,” were as good as being there when it happened. Although he’s relatively new to Montana, Jerry Laskody’s poem regarding branding on his ranch and the way he feels about Montana and the land made a powerful statement. Joe Charter had many good poems but the one about the old cowboy in a nursing home was particularly moving.


Dick Morton

Dick Morton’s recitation of “Anthem” sounded much like the author, Buck Ramsey, reciting his own poem. Dick Hall’s recitation of Tim McCoy’s poem, "Wyoming’s Azure Skys [sic]," also known as "The Real Thing," brought some good laughs, and a recognition of the truth in the poem.


Dick Hall

The audience enjoyed Meryl and Lloyd McKenna’s music as well as their fine poems. I had the opportunity to recite many of my poems to the gathering’s receptive audiences. I’m sure there were many other poems worthy of mention, but I can only comment on those I heard in the sessions I went to.


Meryl and Lloyd McKenna

While the poetry sessions were going on in different rooms, for the most part, the musicians were playing in the Centermark.The Centermark was an inside court at the Yogo Inn, which is where the Western Art and Gear Show was held during the gathering.

Thursday night featured a BBQ hosted by the Lewistown Art Center and Open Mic Poetry and Music hosted by Lloyd and Meryl McKenna. Friday night was a Cowboy Jam’n Dance hosted by Almeda Terry and Jack Styer, and Saturday night’s show featured Baxter Black with Mike Logan reciting his own poetry. Judging from the applause at the end of the show, the audience loved it all.


Jam Session
 

This gathering has recently been listed in the book, 1000 Places to See in the US and Canada Before You Die. The author Patricia Schultz writes, "...This is one of the nations largest events dedicated to cowboy verse and visual history of Montana and the West. Up to 60 cowboys and cowgirls recite their poetry to over 1500 fans who range from academic folklorists to cowboy wannabes to grizzled ranchers who have spent their life on the range..."

On top of that, the Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering has been chosen as one of the American Bus Association’s Top 100 Events in North America for group travel in 2010.

Another thing my husband and I enjoyed about this gathering was the travel it required for us to get there from Colorado. There are probably more wide open spaces between us in Colorado and Lewistown, Montana than anywhere in the U.S. The skies and the miles of grasslands take the breath away. On the way we stopped to see the herds of wild horses on the Pryor range, which takes in border land between Montana and Wyoming. Those horses, now threatened by herd reduction, were a sight to see.

The roads from Colorado to Lewistown are rich in western history with numerous trail crossings, battlefields, forts and historic buildings to be seen along most any route. It was easy to visualize the cattle going up the old trails from Texas to the north, and easy to visualize the river crossings and happenings along the Yellowstone, the Bighorn, the Musselshell, and the Powder. All figure in the history of the state.
 


July. 2009
First Annual Bear Lake Cowboy Gathering  Montpelier, Idaho

report by Janette Gailey
 


The 1st Annual Bear Lake Cowboy Gathering , held at the Bear Lake County Fairgrounds on Hwy 36, Montpelier, Idaho, came off with nary a hitch! Our great event was held  during beautiful weather on the weekend of July 10th and 11th with an awe-inspiring Cowboy Church on the 12th, 2009.

So many of the great members of the Cowboy Poets of Idaho, Inc. supported us by making the trek to our beautiful Bear Lake valley. We were particularly delighted that Les Merrill (and family) was able to come and set up our sound-he takes care of us, like none other! We are, of course, banking on his return to next year's 2nd Annual Bear Lake Cowboy Gathering, at the Bear Lake County Fairgrounds on July 9th, 10th and 11h, 2010 (the weekend after the 4th of July). PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDARS NOW!

Gordon Peterson was our gifted Friday night MC and our one-and-only Layle Bagley ("The Man of Many Faces") did his great comic MC routine for us on Saturday.

We were privileged to have a number of out-of-state performers join us. Jerry & Lorene Burtts braved the trip from Dillon, Montana—Jerry and Lorene are an inspiration to all in overcoming their handicaps and Jerry's one-hand command of the guitar is legendary.

Great  entertainers, Garland Kennington, poet and musician/poet Jerry Bell brought their talent from Riverton, Wyoming. Incredible Lonnie Shurtliff came from Le Grande, Oregon and lent his great talent to accompany many. Jenny Anderson came to us from Ogden, Utah. Jenny is Dave Anderson's daughter (of STAMPEDE! fame) and the great Don Kennington's granddaughter. Wow!—she held the audience spellbound with her lovely young voice.

It's so great to hear the young people bloom. And, last but not least, we were all delighted with the
great talent of Utah poets: Stan Tixier-Eden, Laurie Tye-Salt Lake City, Sam DeLeeuw-Roy, AND, of course, our beloved Ken Wellard from Sandy who does so much to support cowboy poets and musicians in Idaho with his presence, performances and Hagerman Gathering in the Spring.

We could not end this report without thanking Lloyd Warnick, Desert Rose & Cactus Pete, Dave Tingey, Les, Linda Merrill & family, Tommy & Connie Patton, Garde Bowman, Vern Woodbury, Don Shelman, Snake River Wayne, Allan & Corean Romriell and Don Kennington for all they did to make this event a success. Our special thanks go to Bob & Marion Baird and Bruce (Looselips) Pinson who made our seniors smile and to Martin Holmes for his great old time piano playing during our intermissions.

Arden and I (Janette) extend our heartfelt thanks to STAMPEDE! (Friday) and to Saddle Strings (Saturday) for their part in making this an unforgettable and memorable weekend. They each opened and closed the show for both evening performances and gave much joy to all. They are such terrific entertainers who are always willing to lend a helping hand, with their great performances, to make sure our events in Idaho are a special pleasure for all who attend.

We hope you will all return again in 2010. We have had many other entertainers, both in state and
out, tell us they plan on being here to join the fun. Arden and I look forward to seeing all of your
smiling faces here, in our valley, to entertain an even bigger crowd as your fame precedes you. WE
COULDN'T DO IT WITHOUT YOU!


June, 2009
Hill Family Benefit with Michael Martin Murphey and Waddie Mitchell  Roy, Utah

August, 2009
Hill Family Benefit  Fremont, Utah

  report by Stan Tixier

The little committee of Cowboy Poets of Utah and Western Music Association members in the Ogden, Utah area, who organized two benefit events this summer for Team Briggs (www.teambriggs.org) and the family of Sylina and Brenn Hill to help with medical bills, would like to thank all the people who helped in some way to make our efforts somewhat successful.

The Michael Martin Murphey—Waddie Mitchell concert on June 16, 2009 attracted nearly 1,000 fans to Roy High School’s auditorium. We should have filled the place but a Tuesday night, mid week event did not bring in as large a crowd as we’d hoped for despite our best efforts to publicize. Still we were able to put a large amount in the Team Briggs account. (Incidentally, we could not have made the necessary contact with Michael Martin Murphey without Mike Kirkwood’s help.) Everyone attending agreed it was a fantastic show.

The auction and entertainment event at Fremont High School on August 15, 2009 was a questionable undertaking from the start. We knew that the local folks were just about “benefited out” and this late summer effort simply did not attract a very big crowd (understatement!). We did make an heroic effort with publicity: posters, newspaper, radio, email, and so on. We had a terrific show before a sparse crowd in the auditorium from noon to early evening. Entertainers included: The Drifter and Miss Judy, Phil Kennington, Laurie Tye, Stan Tixier, The Johnson Creek Band, Richard Lee Cody, Bob Christensen, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Dave Tingy, Coyotee Moon, Robin Arnold, the Urry family (Bob, Matt, Courtney and Lane), The High Strung Band (from Oregon), J.C. Needham, Casey Woods, Marion Manwell, Kenny Hall, and The Blue Sage Trio. The highlight of the event occurred when Brenn and Sylina came up on the stage with Quayden, Briggs and little Cambridge. Brenn Hill capped the entertainment portion with two songs playing the Nowland guitar the was later in the live auction.

We had a direct sale of entertainers’ CDs and books, an “Opportunity Drawing” (kinda like a raffle), a Silent Auction and finally a live auction with our own C.R. Wood serving as auctioneer and doing a superb job. If more bidders had been there to bid up the various items available. it’s certain that a good deal more money could have been brought in for this most worthy cause. Still we made a solid amount, with three major items unsold there but pending sale on e-bay or KSL.com which could or should bring the total even higher.

Two other things should be noted about the August 15 event. A very generous and proficient lady from Liberty, Utah, by the name of Terri Minnock nearly single-handed made the Silent Auction possible. She personally acquired a good many of the items and organized the entire effort with the help of several volunteers she rercuited. The Silent Auction could not have happened without Terri. Becky Hogaard of the Rockin’ HH Ranch Store suggested that we do the food service ourselves when the caterer we had contacted insisted on a firm number of eaters. Becky put on a great bar-b-que with all the trimmings and we even make a little profit for the cause.

It was a good deal of work and worry but all-in-all it was a good feeling to know that the efforts of a few WMA and CPU members could provide a little financial help to “one of our own” and his courageous little boy. When little Briggs, on stage, gave a “ thumbs up” to his grandpa Vern in the audience, that made it all worthwhile. 



 

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

 

 

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