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(Some links may go out of date.)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



Alzada (Montana) October

Valentine (Nebraska) October (two reports)

Ruidoso Downs (New Mexico) October

Fruitland (Idaho) October

Willits (California) October  separate page

Fort Benton (Montana) October  separate page

Acton (California) October  separate page


See January-February reports here.
See March reports here.
See April-June reports here.
See July-August reports here.
See September 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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October, 2009
21st Annual Alzada Cowboy Poetry, Art & Music Show   Alzada, Montana

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


“Singin’ In The Rain”….well, maybe not quite. But there was a gentle, albeit cool, rain falling while the cowboy musicians and poets were doing their thing in the old Community Hall at Alzada, Montana. Some welcome moisture, to say the least. The occasion was the “Spurring Ahead” 21st Annual Alzada Cowboy Poetry, Music and Art Show, held October 4, 2009. Artists have been hanging their art work all morning and the four walls are covered as the dinner hour (lunch to you city folk) rolls around. This small ranching community puts on a big gathering, with festivities starting with a delicious array of food to choose from. Marge Waterland, chairperson for the kitchen, and her helpers, do a great job of feeding the crowd. The dinner is the only fees charged at this event, and the proceeds go for upkeep on this hall. Built in 1919, this hall is maintained solely by volunteer efforts, and they have been doing a remarkable job.

By 11:00 a.m. the crowd is gathering, with folks browsing the art displays, visiting, and looking forward to the festivities. By noon everyone was anticipating the chow line, the aroma from the kitchen had been enticing folks for the last hour, and now was the time. The lunch room was packed, as usual, as folks took on a heapin’ helpin’ of delicious food and good conversations. At 1:00 p.m. the program got underway with Randy Arpan, emcee, introducing Gay Arpan and Chris Maupin, organizers of this event. They welcomed the crowd and extended special “Thank Yous” to Bob Petermann for the sound system, Randy Arpan for emceeing the event, Kaye Sperb’s drawing, “Ridin’ for the Brand” boot picture on the brochure and Marge Waterland and her helpers for the noon meal.

Randy then began introducing the performers with the first being Rhonda Stearns of Newcastle, Wyoming, followed by Barb Peabody of Ekalaka, Montana, then Slim McNaught of New Underwood, South Dakota, Lily Anne Hansen of Hulett, Wyoming, Troy McNaught-Westby of New Underwood, South Dakota, Brandy Dalton of Hulett, Wyoming, Onalee Hoffman  of Belle Fourche, South Dakota, Mary French of Hulett, Wyoming, Bill Stearns of Newcastle, Wyoming, Peggy Howard of Sundance, Wyoming and Kidd McKillop of Bridgeport, Nebraska.

Then it was time to stand up and take a break. The afternoon entertainment was interspersed with drawing door prizes. After several door prizes were awarded, and with coffee and soft drinks in hand, the audience settled back into their seats to enjoy the next round of entertainers. This one began with George Watts of Hulett, Wyoming followed by Shirley Snook Andersen of Hulett, Wyoming, Jim Carrol of Ekalaka, Montana, Dipper Brunson of Aladdin, Wyoming, Jack Owen of Alzada, Montana, Rena Tauck of Hammond, Montana, JoAn Marshall of Ekalaka, Montana, John Swetcoff  of Belle Fourche, South Dakota, Robert Dennis of Red Owl, South Dakota, Bruce Roseland of Senica, South Dakota, Milo Daily of Belle Fourche, South Dakota, Francie Davis of Kadoka, South Dakota and Bob Petermann of Wibaux, Montana.

At this time Randy Arpan introduced the artists who had their work displayed on the walls. Featured Artists were Kelly and Scott Waugh of Hulett, Wyoming. Thirty five artists displayed approximately 71 pieces. Several more door prizes were awarded, much to the delight of the folks attending this event.

The afternoon program was rounded out with entertainers Mary Smith of Miles City, Montana, Norman Turnbough of Broadus, Montana, Celia Yates of Hammond, Montana, Kip Sorlie of Viborg, South Dakota, Dave and Jared Wagner of Hulett, Wyoming and Jim Hamilton of Decker, Montana. There were about thirty performers (if my count was right) and they gave the folks some great entertainment.

This Alzada event is always well attended and an asset to the community. For more information contact Gay Arpan at, or Chris Maupin at P.O. Box 252, Hulett, WY 82720. We are all looking forward to this gathering next year because, as someone once said, “It’s just like a big family reunion, except we all like each other.”




October, 2009
Six Rivers Western Festival  Fruitland, Idaho

report and photos by Bobbie Hunter


Near the banks of the Snake River at the Oregon and Idaho border, a new and exciting gathering, the Six Rivers Western Festival, held its first meeting on October 16th and 17th, 2009.  Located at the Olde School Community Center in Fruitland, Idaho, Cowboy Poets of Idaho (CPI) members and friends came together to jointly spark a flame which will burn long and bright, telling the tale of our Western Heritage.
Amid an autumn sky, the sun shone down on trees of vibrant yellow and gold; the setting was perfect for two days of foot-stompin' revelry. Coming from five Western states, performers enthusiastically poured out heart and soul and shared their talent with uncommon skill, setting the tone for future gatherings.
The Olde School Community Center, rich with its own history, provided an inviting atmosphere where poetry and music could be shared and enjoyed to the fullest; it was as if the calendar had been turned back to the day of the cowboy and the old West.
Complete with sparkling tiaras and embroidered sashes, visiting royalty took part in the Six Rivers Western Festival: Cassie Nielson (Idaho), Vale 4th of July Rodeo Queen; and Kara Durant (Idaho), Nyssa Nite Rodeo Queen. Joining in the spirit of the occasion, Cassie presented a poem written by her granddad.

Keven Inman

Keven Inman (Washington), a devoted student of classic cowboy poets and a talented performer in his own right, acted as emcee for the Friday night show.  Performers included:  Lisa Jensen, Bob and Marion Baird, Allan and Corean Romriell, Bobbie Hunter, Elden Thompson, Bruce Pinson, Tom Patton (all from Idaho); "Coyote Joe" Sartin (Oregon); Ken Wellard, and Sam DeLeeuw (both from Utah).

Coyote Joe" Sartin and Tom Patton

The husband and wife team of Corean and Allan Romriell are the most recent winners of the Cowboy Poets of Idaho Golden Note award.

Corean and Allan Romriell

The ever-popular and incomparable Sam DeLeeuw assumed emcee duties for the Saturday night show.  Participating were:  "Coyote Joe" Sartin, the Shurtleff Brothers consisting of Lonnie Shurtleff (Oregon), his son Jean, and two grandsons, Joe and Spence (all from Idaho).  Combining guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and mouth harp, the group added spark to what was already a great line-up.
Also performing on the Saturday night show were: Colleen Kohler, Bob and Marion Baird, Sherry Jones, Wayne Nelson, Larry Shiflet, Don Shelman (all from Idaho); Larry Gibson (Montana); and Keven Inman (Washington).

Bob and Marion Baird

Other performers were Janet Anderson, Ted Hoffman, and Connie Patton, all from Idaho.
During intermission a few lucky folks won pumpkins, intricately carved with Western motifs.  Bull riders, bronc riders, coyotes howling at the moon--perfect for lending Halloween a Western theme!
The Shurtleff Brothers' distinctive arrangement of "Amazing Grace" closed out the weekend; performers and audience were invited to participate in a final sing-along.  Although the poetry and the music eventually faded away, the gathering will not soon be forgotten.
Organizers of the Six Rivers Western Festival were Allan and Corean Romriell, and Bobbie Hunter.  They look forward to the next gathering and invite you to attend.  The date has not yet been set, but watch for news of the event in the fall of 2010—you won't want to miss it!

October, 2009
20th Annual Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium  Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico

report and photos by Totsie Slover


Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium

If you missed the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium this year, you missed a great time! The weather in Ruidoso, New Mexico was cool and beautiful and the entire town was involved. The kickoff was Thursday evening at 7:00 when Tommy Allsup and The Texas Playboys took the stage in a "sell out" house to get everyone in the mood. The next up were the beautiful, young, talented Quebe sisters with The Quebe Sisters Band and they rocked the house. Then, the star of the evening, Mel Tillis, took the stage and truly entertained for  two hours! If you think Mel Tillis has lost anything over the years, you need to see him again. The voice is great, the jokes are funny and he holds an audience in the palm of his hand.

Red Steagall

Friday morning started off with entertainers on three stages at 9 o'clock. R. J. Vandygriff and J.W. Beeson (is Lipscomb, Texas so small the guys don't have full names??), Pete Laumbach and the Sidekicks started the day off early. The audiences were fairly sparse at the beginning but by the time the 10 o'clock show started, the place was hummin'. There were seasoned, efficient stage managers at all four locations to keep everything running as planned and emcee the program. Joe Baker was at Billy's Sports Bar, Larry and Kelly Scott at the Ray Reed Stage, Pete Laumbach at the Larry McWhorter Stage and Carolyn Wilson at the Three Rivers Stage.  The stages were also festively decorated by Jean Stoddard, Sunny Hirshfeld, Gail Scott, Bruce & Lynn Morgan.

Billy Mata

During the day, audiences were treated to performances by The Flying J Wranglers, Call of the West, Heart of Texas, Red Steagall, Jimmy Burson, Bobby Flores, Jim Chancellor & Brien Berline, Floyd Domino and The All Stars (which included headliners such as Billy Mata, Ginny Mac, Amber Digby, and Justin Trevino), The Quebe Sisters Band, Chuck Cusimano, Tommy Allsup & Fiddlers and more performances from R. J. Vandygriff, J.W. Beeson, Pete Laumbach, and Rollie Stevens and The Sidekicks. In addition to these stages, in Billy's Sports Bar within the Casino from 10 AM til 1 AM there was constant music from Brady Bowen, Bobby Flores, Heart of Texas and The Sidekicks with vocals from Amber Digby, Justin Trevino, Liz Talley, Darrell McCall, Tony Booth, Curtis Potter, and more!

Bobby Flores

Friday evening ended with a concert with Floyd Domino and The All Stars opening to another packed house! Next up was Larry Gatlin with The Texas Playboys! Everyone was talking about it the next morning! I heard no complaints! It was a great evening of entertainment!

The three stages opened Saturday morning at 9:00 AM so you had the opportunity to catch the performers that you missed on Friday or listen again to the ones you enjoyed most. The performances at Billy's Sports Bar
started at 10 AM.

The entertainment culminated Sunday morning with many artists participating in Cowboy Church, singing and playing beautiful Gospel Music.

All weekend the entire place was packed! In between the stages were dozens of venders. They were selling, books, artwork, clothing, western sculptures, hats, food and drink, jewelry. it was all there! Outside you
could find the World's Richest Chuckwagon Cook-off, Craig Cameron's horse training seminar, and events for the family and kids. You could start the weekend Thursday evening and not leave until Sunday noon and still miss
something.  I'm sure of it!

Brady Bowen Band

The thing that impressed me most was the range in age of the entertainers. Billy Doshier celebrated his 80th birthday at the Symposium on October 10th. Billy has played for many years for folks like Patsy Cline and Leon
McAuliffe and is now playing guitar and fiddle for Brady Bowen, the AWA Western Swing group of the Year 2009. 17-year-old fiddler, Jess Meador, was there with him, on the stage as part of the same band, with well deserved
respect from the other band members. The Quebe Sisters and Ginny Mac are very young, beautiful, energetic and enthusiastic!  The whole picture of the old, the young, the relatively new entertainers and the ones who have been  doing it for decades and all in between, is so refreshing.  All of these folks have the utmost respect for each other and will pitch in and do whatever needs to be done to get everyone time with the mike. It reinforces my feeling that Western Music is here to stay!

Make your plans now to attend the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium 2010!

Find additional photos here at Totsie Slover's site:


October, 2009
18th Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days  Valentine, Nebraska

see Williard Hollopeter's report below

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


The 18th Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering & Old West Days, held October 1 through 4, 2009 in Valentine, Nebraska, was another star-studded event. As the brochure states, “Old West Days has all the excitement and thrills just like it was 100 years ago.” The whole town jumps in and offers a great array of activities to keep the grouchiest old curmudgeons up and smiling. Starting Thursday evening October 1, at 7:30 p.m. with a repeat performance on Sunday, October 4, at 7:30 p.m., the “Secret of Cornbread Flats or How Many Beans Does It Take To End Up In Smithereens” (you can let your breath out now) old time melodrama is a hilarious offering produced by special arrangement with Pioneer Drama Service, Inc., Englewood, Colorado and the Valentine Area Arts Council featuring local talent.

Moving into Friday morning, the gymnasium behind the theatre was hopping as venders moved their wares into their booths. What an array of goods. As they say, “Everything from soup to nuts,” including a bunch of other goods. One of the main features of the trade show was the hand made quilts, displayed on both sides of racks reaching full length of the gymnasium. The star of the quilt show was the “Vintage Valentines”, a fabulous quilt that the Sandhills Piecemakers Quilt Guild raffled off during the event. Eight local women spent nine months sewing on their blocks and assembling the quilt top. JoAnn Hoffman of Hill City, South Dakota, spent eight hours quilting it with a long arm machine.

At 9:00 a.m. in the Auditorium the first performers hit the stage. Hosted by Curt Cooper of Columbus, Nebraska, the crowd was entertained by Phillip Crawford, Marilyn Herrmann, Slim McNaught, and Curly Butts. At 10:00 a.m. the set was hosted by Marci Broyhill and featured Marty Blocker, Bill May, Teresa Kay, and Jo Nickel. The host of the 11:00 to noon group was Ken Moreland. Again the audience was treated to great performances by Kip Sorlie, Marci Broyhill, Brook Jamison, and Lance Johnson.

From Noon to 12:50 a Kid’s Workshop was conducted and at 1: p.m. the afternoon poetry and music sessions got underway with host Teresa Kay, introducing the Double D Wranglers followed by Bruce Messersmith and Bruce Coslor. At 2:00 p.m., hosted by R.P. Smith, the folks were entertained by Rick Buoy, Kip Sorlie, Slim McNaught and Lance Johnson. The last poetry session of the afternoon was hosted by Willard Hollopeter. This set consisted of local poets from the Valentine area, Marty Blocker, Jo Nickel, Rick Buoy, and Ken Moreland. Also at 4:00 p.m. there was an open mike session held in the Choral Room.

This year’s event was dampened by the passing of Wally Bazen. He had been a staunch supporter and performer of Old West Days for many years. Wally was well known as the leader of the nightly jam sessions for the last several years.

Also in loving memory of Mary Mulligan Hollopeter, who was on the original Old West board and remained on the board until just a few years ago. Mary was the “go to” person when anyone needed information, always keeping meticulous records. Be it setting up the trade show, the book table, or in other areas, she demanded perfection and would accept nothing less. Mary was very instrumental in making Old West Days the success it has been and was an asset to the event with her friendliness and constant smile. We miss you Mary.

The Friday evening Cowboy Poetry and Music Performance was a crowd pleaser. With Eli Barsi hosting, the audience was treated to some great performers. Eli is originally a cowgirl from the prairies of Saskatchewan, Canada. Singer, songwriter, yodeler, musician, entertainer and multi-award winner, she has traveled internationally for the last 24 years. She has recorded 10 albums, released 11 charting radio singles and 3 CMT videos.

First entertainer up was Doris Daley, who comes from a gene pool in Southern Alberta, Canada, that includes Mounties, cowboys, desperados, fancy two-steppers, sorry team ropers and good pie makers. Known for her wordsmithing and tricky word play, she has been an emcee and featured poet at every cowboy festival in Canada and several throughout the United States.

Next up was Bob Petermann. Raised in the remote Cedar Creek area of Wibaux County, Montana, Bob has been singing and playing the guitar since he was eight years old. He and his wife, Kay, make their home on the family ranch and his repertoire has grown to include nearly 200 old cowboy classics, country tunes, gospel standards and songs that he himself has written. He has 3 CDs and one book published. He has also performed at Elko, Nevada.

Jess Howard needs no introduction. Jess has been a poet for many years, going public in 1995, and has been a featured poet at gatherings in several states. He has been invited to perform in Elko, Nevada a number of times. He never lets the truth get in the way of a good story. Jess now lives in Wibaux, Montana.

The crowd was then treated to the Carr Family Cowboy Band. Ronn and wife, Judy, along with daughters, Anna and Abby, and son, Walter, gave a lively performance. Anna, 20, plays fiddle and performs poetry, Abby, 15, sings lead, and plays the fiddle, mandolin, and guitar. Walter, 13, plays fiddle and does cowboy humor. Judy plays the bass and sings harmony. Ronn is a singer, song writer, and plays guitar, mandolin, harmonica, piano and violin. The Carr family raises Angus cattle south of Whitman, Nebraska on the family ranch.

At the end of the performance the audience migrated to the performer’s booth in the vendors area. The visiting, shopping and good times went on for an hour at which time the performers and many of the crowd moved to the Holiday Inn meeting room where the jam session lasted until after midnight.

Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. the day started with two stages running. In the Theatre Paul Larson hosted Curly Butts, Bruce Coslor, Brook Jamison, and Russ Thacker. In the Commons Area Jess Howard hosted Dan Stehlik, Jo Nickel, Curt Cooper and Bill May. At 10:00 a.m. in the Theatre the performers consisted of Marci Broyhill, Teresa Kay, Dan Stehlik and Phillip Crawford, hosted by Bob Petermann. In the Commons Area Gale Patzlaff’s crew of Marilyn Herrmann, Bruce Messersmith, Slim McNaught and Bruce Coslor entertained. Eleven o’clock a.m. in the Theatre saw host, Jon Chandler, presenting Marty Blocker, Ken Moreland, Bruce Messersmith and the Double D Wranglers. At the same time in the Commons Area, Russ Thacker, Rick Buoy, Phillip Crawford and Lance Johnson were being hosted by Eli Barsi. Also at 11:00 a.m. an open session was held in the Band Room for anyone interested in performing there. What a lineup of talent. The folks who attended this year’s gathering were treated to some of the best talent in the country, right here in their own backyard.

A morning of entertainment followed by a relaxing lunch hour then being treated to another great performance in the theatre? “It don’t get no better than this, folks!” This Cowboy Music Performance started at 2:00 p.m. and was hosted by R.P. Smith, the fourth generation to raise cattle on the Pine Crest Ranch in Custer County, Nebraska, which marked its centennial in 2006. The commentary and poetry that R.P. shares are a by-product of the beef industry, and have been processed by reciting for ruminates, relatives, and ranchers. When he is stricken with a new idea he tries it out on his wife, the dogs and replacement heifers, and when he wants a tough audience, his six children.

First performer up is well know around these parts. Paul Larson from just outside Rochford, South Dakota, spent many years competing in and judging rodeos throughout the Midwest. He’s a talented carpenter, and his music remains true to authentic cowboy music. He’s well known for his baritone voice, you might find him on the front porch of his cabin with his guitar and his dog, Rita.

The next performer, Jon Chandler, was awarded 2009 Western Writers of America’s Spur Award for Best Song, 2009’s Best Living Western Musician by True West Magazine. His Keepers of the Flame CD received two Telly awards, the Dalton Pen Award, and the Best of NAMA Merit Award, while his Westerns were dubbed “best Western CD” by True West Magazine. Recipient of the 2008 Western Folklife Center’s Yellowstone-Teton Songwriting Contest Audience Award for his song, The Road That Leads to Yellowstone. He hosts America’s Soul Live!, a monthly concert series at the Olde Town Pickin’ Parlor in Arvada, Colorado, televised on Rocky Mountain PBS, The Altitude Sports and Entertainment Network and Frontier Airlines.

The next two performers, The Carr Family Cowboy Band and Bob Petermann, had performed in the Friday evening performance and again, both performances were greatly enjoyed by the audience. What talent.

The last performer of the afternoon, Eli Barsi, had hosted the Friday evening performance and the folks were looking forward to seeing her again. Along with her husband, John Cunningham, she combined her entertaining experience with her vibrant personality and gave the folks a great performance.

The last Cowboy Poetry and Music Performance of the weekend began at 7:30 p.m. in the Theatre and featured host, Doris Daley. Having performed on the Friday evening event, and being a talented wordsmith, her presentation of each act was a performance in itself. Her first introduction was R.P. Smith, who had hosted the Saturday afternoon program, much to the delight of the crowd. R.P had the audience literally gasping for breath as he led them through the hilarious happenings of ranch life through his perspective.

Next up was Eli Barsi, who had performed Saturday afternoon. Again, she entertained the folks with her brand of cowgirl roots and sparkling stage presence. Drawing on her talent and years of experience, she kept the audience on the edge of their seats waiting for more.

The next performer is no newcomer to the cowboy poetry genre. Gale Patzlaff was born in and has lived his entire life in the Fulton, South Dakota, area. Gale and wife, Geri, run a cow/calf operation on their ranch where he still does most of his cattle work on horseback. His heroes were always cowboys, and after winning a local radio station contest at age 9, he met Gene Autry at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, which reinforced his appreciation of the “cowboy code”. He has been reciting cowboy poetry at various events and gatherings throughout the Midwest since 1996. His ability to put ranching experiences and funny stories into poems and then deliver them with a wit that only he could, kept the crowd laughing all the way.

Rounding out the weekend of great entertainment was Jon Chandler. Jon had performed in the afternoon here on stage, and he again gave the folks his rendition of some great entertainment that will keep them looking forward to seeing him again. What a finale to a fabulous Cowboy Poetry and Music weekend. The Old West Days weekend ended Sunday with a trail ride and Sunday church services. All the members and volunteers who put so much work and inspiration into making this an annual event need to be congratulated on another successful gathering. We all look forward to the next one.

October, 2009
18th Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days  Valentine, Nebraska

see Slim McNaught's report above

report by Willard Hollopeter; photos by Bob Stetter except where noted


Eighteenth Annual Old West Days and Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering

photo courtesy of Doris Daley
Jon Chandler, John Cunningham, Gale Patzlaff, RP Smith. In front: Eli Barsi and Doris Daley

Early winter had hit the area for the Eighteenth Annual Old West Days and Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering. There was a hard cold wind from the northwest on Friday, likely causing the decline in attendance for that night's performance.

Saturday was warmer and the wind had slacked off. There was a good attendance to the afternoon cowboy music performance, also the Saturday evening performance.

photo by Bob Stetter
Doris Daley

photo by Bob Stetter
Eli Barsi

Doris Daley, from Canada, and Eli Barsi, also from Canada (by way of Branson Missouri) were pretty much used to the cold and they both gave rousing performances to an enthusiastic crowd. Doris said the Valentine audience was one of the best she had performed for.

photo by Bob Stetter
Jess Howard

A funny monologue by RP Smith kept the crowd laughing and applauding, as did Jess Howard’s poetry and stories. The Carr Family Band was back, as was Paul Larson and Bob Petermann. Newcomers to the event were singer Jon Chandler and poet Gale Patzlaff.

photo by Bob Stetter
Paul Larson

photo by Bob Stetter
Jon Chandler

The trade show displayed some interesting merchandise. The book table did a good business. Folks again enjoyed the melodrama. Though the cold weather kept some fair weather cowboys from the trail ride on Sunday, by all reports it was a success.

All in all, despite the weather, we can chalk up another successful Old West Days.


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



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