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(Some links may go out of date.)

2009 Reports



Devils Tower National Park (Wyoming) September 

Montrose (Colorado) September  separate page

Maple Creek (Saskatchewan) September

Garland (Texas) September

Martin (South Dakota) September

Glenrock (Wyoming) September

Hot Springs (South Dakota) September

See January-February reports here.
See March reports here.
See April-June reports here.
See July-August 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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September, 2009
12th Annual Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering  Hot Springs, South Dakota

  report and photos by Slim McNaught
photo of Slim McNaught by Jen Dobrowski

Badger Clark Days

The bar has just been raised for cowboy poetry gatherings! There is a new goal to measure up to. The Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering in Hot Springs, South Dakota, started Friday evening, September 25, 2009 at 7:00 PM with a jam session appropriately named “Bunkhouse Tales” by MaryJo Grill, Program Director. Held in the stage area of the Branding Iron Restaurant & Lounge, the full house enjoyed two hours of the finest entertainment around. And talk about a pampered audience, the kitchen staff of the Branding Iron spent the entire evening catering to their every want. The food was delicious, the service great, and the ambiance contributed to a fun filled evening. This establishment is such an ideal location for the annual jam session that we look forward to this accommodation in the future. What a great facility, thank you Steve, Carla, Jeremiah and Britni Simunek for hosting this event, our hats off to you.

photo by Slim McNaught
"Bunkhouse Tales" performers. Back row: Gale Patzlaff, Robert "Jinglebob" Dennis. Front row: Scott Mead, Ed Nesselhuff, Pegie Quinn Douglas, Slim McNaught, Kip Sorlie

It was very evident when folks started lining up to get in the door that this gathering was going to top them all. MaryJo Grill, Program Director for the Badger Clark Days, has been the force behind this gathering since it started. Along with her husband, Bruce, they inspire folks around by making each year better than the last.

Robert “Jinglebob” Dennis again was the emcee and he certainly needs no introduction, as he has filled this position since the gathering started twelve years ago. Fifth generation rancher, singer/song writer and cowboy poet, he has been emceeing, performing, and coordinating events in this end of the country for many years, and is without a doubt, one of the best. As he presented each performer, the audience was treated to a range of talent (some well known, some not) that kept their undivided attention.

photo by Slim McNaught
Gale Patzlaff

Kip Sorlie of Viborg, South Dakota, fresh in from performing at the World’s Only Cowboy Poetry Rodeo in Montrose, Colorado, entertained to the delight of the crowd. Gale Patzlaff of rural Fulton, South Dakota, and his wife, Geri, run a cow/calf operation. Gale has been reciting cowboy poetry around the area since 1996. His delivery of a poem can bring down the house with laughter. He was a performer at the Saturday evening show and sure got folks interested in that event. Ed Nesselhuf of rural Burbank, South Dakota, a pastor for 30 years and Executive Director of Prison Congregations of America (PCA), is well traveled and well known across the country for his excellent cowboy poetry, and gave the crowd a sample that made them want more. Scott Mead of Minnesota is not often found performing at major events but has the cowboy knack of being very entertaining with his poetry about his experiences. Eli Barsi (you just can’t help but love her) and husband, John Cunningham, formerly of Saskatchewan, Canada, and now based out of Branson, Missouri, gave the crowd a taste of what they were to experience in the Saturday evening show. Doris Daley, of Alberta, Canada, a top entertainer in the United States and Canada, had the crowd in stitches with some of her humorous poetry, another sampling of what they were to see Saturday evening. Pegie Quinn Douglas of Morehead City, North Carolina, who, along with her husband, spend their summers employed by Custer State Park, gave the crowd some Badger Clark poetry that she set to music and sang for us, accompanying herself on guitar. Very well done. Slim McNaught of New Underwood, South Dakota, also recited some of his cowboy poetry.

The second annual Cowboy Poetry Workshop got underway at 9 AM Saturday, September 26, at the Mueller Civic Center, with Doris Daley and Slim McNaught hosting 24 interested writers. The workshop was well received with many positive comments coming from those who attended. With Doris’s prepared study guide outlining the mechanics and grammar of writing poetry and Slim’s tips on performing to live audiences and radio, along with the interaction of those attending the workshop, it all contributed to a successful and enjoyable learning experience.

At 1 PM the Cowboy Poetry Shootout Contest began with the contestants primed and ready to fire. Two categories, Humorous and Serious, were covered and three prizes were given overall. The contestants in the Shootout were Bernice Landers, South Dakota; Tom Gookin, California; Kip Sorlie, South Dakota; Scott Mead, Minnesota; Don Hilmer, South Dakota; and Gale Patzlaff, South Dakota. First place went to Gale Patzlaff, with second place going to Don Hilmer, and Kip Sorlie coming in third. The judges were Robert Dennis, Doris Daley, and Phyllis Mead. These shoot outs get performers in a competitive spirit and bring out the best in their reciting. Thanks to all for a great event.

photo by Slim McNaught
Judges Robert Dennis, Doris Daley, and Phyllis Mead

photos by Slim McNaught
Don Hilmer and Kip Sorlie receive awards from
Kim Kotti, Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce Events Coordinator

After the Shootout the podium was opened to anyone who wanted to perform. Several poets entertained the crowd until 4 o’clock, at which time sound checks were to begin for the evening entertainers. Dan Healey set up the equipment and tuned the system to the needs of the performers. Dan does an excellent job keeping the sound system up to par. The audio for the evening performance was very good, thanks to Dan’s efforts.

Food! Wow! Joe Allen and crew of rural Hot Springs served up a chuckwagon supper at 5 o’clock that made your stomach think you’d gone to heaven. With 10 ounce choice cut steak so tender I cut mine with a fork, cowboy beans done to perfection, Texas toast, baked potato, apple cobbler and your choice of coffee, lemonade or water, and an hour and forty five minutes to eat and visit. "Don’t get no better than that."

Then came the event that everyone has been looking forward to. At 7 PM the Saturday evening entertainment went on stage. Bruce Grill had constructed and set up the stage props for the performance and he did an excellent job. His arrangement fit the theme of the gathering perfectly. Scott Haden, Hot Springs Chamber President, gave a welcome to the crowd. He topped it off by presenting MaryJo Grill with a bouquet of roses in appreciation for her efforts in this gathering. This welcoming act is normally handled by George Kotti, Executive Director of the Hot Springs Chamber, but he had an unfortunate accident that left him with a broken neck and unable to attend this year’s gathering. Scott did a fine job and then introduced the emcee, Robert "Jinglebob" Dennis. Robert started things off with his guitar and a song and then introduced Gale Patzlaff. If you have never listened to this entertainer, you don’t know what you are missing. With his poems recounting experiences from a broken leg to getting his wife tangled up in the electric fence, he had the audience in stitches.

photo by Slim McNaught
Eli Barsi and John Cunningham

When Eli Barsi and John Cunningham were introduced by Jinglebob, the audience was treated to one of Canada’s most popular singing cowgirls. Singer, song writer, western yodeler, musician (guitar and mandolin), and entertainer with exceptional stage presence, she gave the crowd a sample of what has won her the admiration of folks on both sides of the border. After being hired to perform with the legendary Sons of the Pioneers in 2002 and moving to Branson, Missouri, Eli has been busy following her passion for music, committed to giving her best, striving for excellence on and off stage. Slim McNaught had the honor of sharing some of his cowboy poetry with the audience. Slim’s CD, Reminiscin', was selected recently as the 2009 Cowboy CD/Album of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists at the Will Rogers Cowboy Awards Show in Garland, Texas.

photo by Slim McNaught
Doris Daley

Doris Daley has been an emcee and featured performer at every cowboy festival in Canada as well as several in the United States including Texas, California and Nevada. In 2004 she was named Best Female Poet in North America by the Academy of Western Artists, the first time any Canadian, male or female, has won the cowboy poetry category. Born in southern Alberta ranch country she writes and recites cowboy poetry that celebrates the humor, history and way of life of the West. She kept the audience laughing with her great material.

Circle B Cowboys, of Circle B Chuckwagon and Trail Rides fame in the Black Hills of South Dakota, are noted for their beautiful harmonies. They perform nightly, Memorial Day weekend through mid-September entertaining folks with traditional cowboy music and down-home humor at their ranch at 22735 Highway 385. They have been featured at the Cowboy Songs & Range Ballads event at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wyoming, over several years and featured on Wyoming PBS. Hill City Cowboy Christmas, local nursing homes, churches and conventions have also enjoyed their performances.

As with all good things, the evening performance came to an end and the crowd moved into the lobby where everyone enjoyed visiting with the performers, purchasing their books and CDs, and socializing in general. The Chamber furnished a great snack tray for all attending. Folks were having such a good time that it was well into the night before the facility cleared out.

It was very obvious to those attending that Hot Springs has the expertise to bring continued growth to this gathering. You can certainly see why
American Cowboy magazine picked the Badger Clark Days as a Readers Choice Top 3 Poetry Event in America. Also, the National Trust for Historical Preservation in Washington, D.C., has named Hot Springs as one of America’s “Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2009” for offering authentic visitor experiences by combining dynamic downtown, cultural diversity, attractive architecture, cultural landscapes and a strong commitment to historic preservation and revitalization.

We are already looking forward to next year. How it could get any better is a mystery, but I’m bettin’ MaryJo Grill and the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce will ‘cowboy up and get ‘er done’.

photo by Slim McNaught
MaryJo and Bruce Grill


September, 2009
2nd Annual Open Range Magazine Cowboy Dinner Show  Glenrock, Wyoming

report and photo by Dave P. Fisher


"In The Barn Concert" Cowboy Dinner Show

September 24th found folks from all around Casper and Glenrock, Wyoming gathering in the big green barn along the Platte River. The Open Range Magazine's 2nd annual "Concert in the Barn" series was on. The show was a big success right off with a chef-prepared dinner that dwarfed the plate. The program began with Jackson, Wyoming's own Mason Tibbs, cowboy poet, ranch manager, and radio host for Jackson, Wyoming station 103.7 The Range  Mason was his usual entertaining self with poems and stories, and kept the crowd laughing with his explanation for the many uses for a Copenhagen lid.
Following Mason was Dave P. Fisher from Sparks, Nevada with his western humor, humorous poems, and even one serious poem. The audience laughed and applauded and didn't throw anything deadly so it must have gone over all right.
Last but not least was renowned poet Clark Crouch from Bothell, Washington, sharing several of his serious and humorous poems. He proved to be a big favorite with the Wyoming crowd.
The star of the show was the world famous Michael Martin Murphey (  Michael exemplifies the cowboy in every way, and being that Wyoming is the Cowboy State, he was a big hit.  Michael gave us many of his famous songs along with anecdotes that had us all laughing. If you have never seen Michael perform you're missing something. In addition to his singing he is a cowboy gentleman and just one heck of a nice guy to boot.

Michael Martin Murphey, Mason Tibbs, Dave P. Fisher, and Clark Crouch

Amanda Smith, publisher of The Open Range Magazine, was on hand all night keeping everyone laughing and making sure everything went smoothly, which of course it did. Amanda reported that the show was such a hit that they are already making plans for 2010, and the four performers have been invited back. Amanda also said that folks are still buzzing over how much they enjoyed the show and are already reserving their tickets for 2010.
So, keep your eyes open for the date next September 2010, and if you're in Wyoming come on in to the green barn, you will not be disappointed that you made the drive.

September, 2009
Canadian Cowgirl Roundup  Martin, South Dakota

report and photos by Nanc Cook


The Martin, South Dakota P.E.O. Chapter CV held a "Canadian Cowgirl Roundup" on Sunday afternoon, September 29, 2009 at 2:00 in the afternoon at the historic Inland Theatre, built in 1940. PEO is a Philanthropic Educational Organization whose purpose is helping women acquire an education.

Dr. Bill Hines, Ken Cook, John Cunningham
Eli Barsi, Doris Daley

The "Canadian Cowgirls" (Doris Daley and Eli Barsi) performed on a typically windy South Dakota afternoon. As people arrived at the theatre on Main Street, they received a free soda and popcorn sponsored by Martin Drug & Mercantile. Connie Kaltenbach, a member of PEO, constructed an informative and colorful full screen Powerpoint of the artists which played continuously as people were seated.

Doris Daley, Eli Barsi, John Cunningham

Cowboy poet Ken Cook was the emcee for the afternoon show. With her usual Canadian flare and poise, Doris Daley opened the first set with her wonderful poetry. Eli Barsi and husband, John Cunningham, followed with lively cowboy music including her talent for yodeling.

Ken Cook

After a short intermission, hometown poet Ken Cook shared a bit of his cowboy poetry followed by Dr. Bill Hines, DVM singing a satirical response to one of Ken's poems. Doris, Eli, and John rounded out the show with more of their entertaining poetry and music. The audience looks forward to these neighbors from the north bringing their "Canadian Poetry and Music" back to our community.

Bill Hines


September, 2009
15th Annual Academy of Western Artists Will Rogers Awards  Garland, Texas


Jo Lynne Kirkwood shared several photos from the Academy of Western Artists Will Rogers Cowboy Awards, which took place in September in Garland, Texas.

Jo Lynne Kirkwood and friend and singer Mary Kaye

Female and Male poet award winners, Jo Lynne Kirkwood and Mike Puhallo

Jam session after the event


  The Academy of Western Artists announced the recipients of its 2009 Will Rogers Awards at the 14th Annual Will Rogers Awards held September 22, 2009 in Garland, Texas.

Western Music-Male....Daron Little

Western Music-Female....
Devon Dawson

Western Music-Duo/Group....
Flying J Wranglers

Western Music-Song....
Bob Davidson "Western Sky"

Western Music-Album....
Liz Masterson "Roads To Colorado"

Western Music-Yodeler....
Carin Mari Lechner

Western Swing-Male....
John England

Western Swing-Female....
Kelli Grant

Western Swing-Duo/Group....
Brady Bowen & Swing Country

Western Swing-Song....
Mary Allen-Keating "Let's Make Music In The Country"

Western Swing-Album/CD....Billy Mata "This Is Tommy Duncan"

Western Swing-Instrumentalist....
Buddy Hrabel

Pure Country-Male....
Tony Booth

Pure Country-Female....
Leighan Cortes

Pure Country-Duo/Group....
Landon Dodd & The Dance Hall Drifters

Pure Country- Song....
Kimberly Murray/Jake Hooker "Living And Learning"

Pure Country-Album/CD....
Mickey Clark "Winding Highways"To

Will Rogers Lifetime Achievement.....
Wayne Mitchell

The Art and Gear, Poetry, and Media awards were announced previously (see the item below for more on the Poetry awards).

Art and Gear Awards

Wayne Justus, Pagosa Springs, CO
Wayne Bevan, Glenwood, AB, Canada
Todd Hansen, Molt, MT
Jerry Falkner, Ft. Davis, TX
Bob Rohan, Houston, TX
Garnet Books Chuckwagon Award-
Cliff Teinert, Albany, TX
Cary Schwarz, Salmon, ID
Don King Lifetime Saddlemaker Award-
Billy Wootres, Albuquerque, NM

Poetry Awards

Mike Puhallo, Kamloops, BC ,Canada
Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Sigurd, UT
Book/CD- Reminiscin', Slim McNaught, New Underwood, SD
Skinny Rowland Humor Award-Andy Nelson, Pinedale, WY
Buck Ramsey Book Award-
Tracks That Won't Blow Out, Ray Owens, Artesia, NM

Media Awards

Disc Jockey-
Dallas Wayne XM-Sirrus Radio
Record Label-
Bear Family Records, Germany
Record Producer-
BGM Studios, San Antonio, TX
Radio Station-
KBAL, San Saba, TX

Find complete information at the organization's web site:


September, 2009
Devils Tower 13th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering   Devils Tower National Park, Wyoming 

  report  by Robert Dennis with photos by Shelia Keler
photo of Robert Dennis by Jeri Dobrowski


We had a beautiful day for the gathering at Devil's Tower. This was the 15th year we had done this. And some of us show it, too! We had a nice crowd who came to enjoy the show and it was probably the best one yet! Of course, I say that every year.

Daron Little

Daron Little drove up from Encampment, Wyoming where he is running a ranch. Marty Blocker drove over from down along the Niobrara River where he is holding a camp job down and the lovely Elizabeth Ebert came down from her ranch up near Thunder Hawk, South Dakota.

Daron is kind of one of them "overnight sensations" who's been cowboying and writing about and singing the songs of this life for many years and is just now getting the recognition he deserves. I have no doubt that many will be having him to their upcoming gatherings, as the word gets out about what a great job he does and what an asset he would be to any gathering.

Brandy Dalton

Earlier in the summer while working a gig at Hulett, Wyoming, Daron made the acquaintance of a young couple who ranch in the Hulett area, Brandon and Brandy Dalton. Daron talked Brandy into coming up and singing a couple songs for all of us. We were all impressed with her beautiful voice and guitar playing. I sure hope she pursues this as she does a wonderful job!

Marty Blocker, Elizabeth Ebert at right

It's always good to be around and listen to the poems Marty Blocker does. He's made a living cowboying all his adult life and he writes and recites poetry as good as he cowboys, and that is saying a lot! When Marty strings out on a poem, you can feel the heat and cold and smell the cows and horses. He will get you to laughing and then turn around and bring a tear to your eye. Look for him at Elko this year.

It was great to hear Elizabeth Ebert's poetry again. What a wonderful and gracious lady and one of the best poets ever, in my book. She has been doing a lot of traveling in the past year and is ready to head out on the Cowboy Poetry trail again!

Chance and Robert Dennis

I sure appreciate my youngest son Chance Dennis coming along and helping me out on my songs. He enjoys the poetry and isn't one longing to be in the spotlight, tho' he could if he wanted to pursue it. It's great to see these young people at these events, taking part and keeping this stuff going.

I don't know how come I get to be so lucky as to keep getting to head this program up for all these years, but I sure am grateful. Hopefully I will see a bunch of you folks there next year, on the Sunday before Labor Day. All the performers wanted to thank the good folks at Devils Tower National Monument, who provide this opportunity for us to share our thoughts and words and songs. They do it as a way to give back to the community and those visiting the Monument and are committed to keep doing it for years to come.

September, 2009
20th Annual Maple Creek Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Maple Creek, Saskatchewan

  report  by "John for Ol' Ugly" (
photo by Bill Borgwardt


Maple Creek’s 20th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering & Western Art and Gear Show



Guitar pickers, singers, cowboy poets, horsemen and artists of all types and description  converged on a little town nestled up against the Cypress Hills in the south western part of Saskatchewan, Canada. It was the third weekend in September.  What’s the attraction in Maple Creek? It was Maple Creek’s 20th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering & Western Art and Gear Show. And on September 18th,19th and 20th the lines were especially long.


Artists and entertainers alike from all points across Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and Montana were in these lines. Crowds from far and wide followed closely behind to see the show. Campers, travel trailers, tents and simple bedrolls came a calling. Campgrounds were full, hotels were full and the bakery—ohhhh, that bakery was full and on top of that the good citizens from all around the area were waiting with open arms for their assigned billets to arrive. Oh, folks it was a sight to see; a sight to see!


Arts and crafts sales, they say, went through the roof this year. Many’s a vendor said their packing up day was as easy as throwing empty bins and racks into the back of their vehicle and heading for home.


But I am not here to talk on their successes; I’m here to talk on the entertainment successes. And it was a success with a capital S from the time the Maple Creek Committee put their minds to work until the last person cleared the stage.


You could see Ann Landsdal scouting the different venues over the summer to pick her entertainers and she picked well. Al Owcher, Buddy Gale, Dave Dance, Rod Erickson to name a few along with their Diamond Doug Keith and Howard Norskog. Ed Brown was there as were Bud and Jill Stewart, Larry Krause, Vic Stuckey, Jon Bowie and Hazel Rust, Doc Hayes, Vivia Oliver, Noel Burles, Chris and Sharkey, The Moncrieff’s and of course Tex Florence.  


And that grand lady of cowboy poetry, Doris Bircham, was overseeing her flock of friends and entertainers that she has so graciously helped over the years.


During the show, Lynda, of the  web wranglers team of John and Lynda Kerekes, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “We just have to write this one up for the web page. Look at the people! Look at how happy they are. They aren’t moving except to get meals and then they are running right back here.” Okay, so that ain’t quite how it was but she did say, “These people will be back time and time again if we give them shows like this every time.”


I know, I’ve missed some entertainers and I do apologize, but this weekend was just so overwhelming in the excitement, good times and sheer volume of people at each stage. Elks Hall was full for almost every performance. The bar of the curling rink was close to capacity all day and the Armouries—ah, yes, they have gone back to the Armouries, thank you—and it was well over a hundred and close to two hundred for each and every performance and capacity at nights or that is what it seemed when I was on stage.


And what entertainment sets! The committee put together set after set of entertainers that meshed with each other and were so compatible that it seemed they were practised and choreographed.


I was fortunate enough to be set up on three sets with Bud and Jill Stewart and Ed Brown. Let me say this: Bud and Jill are becoming top hand MCs. They know when to come up front and when to stay back and give the stage to others; a true sign of a professional.


Ed Brown is another who steps into the spotlight when it is his turn and then steps back to allow others their turn. I love working with these people as they are such top notch performers and they raise the bar and make me reach purty high. These are the kinds of people I watch and learn from. It appears that quite a few others were doing likewise.  


Even though I have written a million words here, I can say I was left speechless . . . nah, I guess I was so happy with the whole affair and the pride I felt for the effort put forth by a wonderful Committee in Maple Creek and our own Alberta Cowboy Poetry Association entertainers that it left me babbling.


Kudos, Maple Creek for a wonderful Gathering and if you don’t mind, I’d sure like an invite again next year.



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



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