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(Some links may go out of date.)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

November - December


Monterey (California) December
separate page

Spearfish (South Dakota) December

near Louisburg (Kansas) December

Ruidoso (New Mexico) December

The Dalles (Oregon) November

Cat Spring (Texas) November

Minden (Nevada) November

Susanville (California) November


See January-February reports here.
See March reports here.
See April-June reports here.
See July-August reports here.
See September reports here.
See October 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 . . .


December, 2010
Heritage of the American West Performance Series  Spearfish, South Dakota

  report and photo by Francie Ganje


The Heritage Continues

Looking to a new year, the Heritage of the American West brought two well-known cowboy performers to its stage December 17, 2009 at the High Plains Western Heritage Center in Spearfish, South Dakota: Ken Cook and Bob Petermann.

Ken Cook and Bob Petermann

Titled "The Heritage Continues," the show marked not only the legacy but the future of presenting the western and cowboy music, poetry and song as it relates to the popular Heritage of the American West Performance Series, now  in its 10th year.

"It was a privilege to have Bob and Ken join us," says Heritage producer Francie Ganje. "Two good friends of this show, on our home stage in the Bruce Miller Theatre, a wonderful pre-show event in the Founder's Hall that featured the settling of the frontier by train and an appreciative doesn't get any better."

Earlier, the two award winning performers joined the Live! With Jim Thompson show with studios in Spearfish for a featured appearance on the popular talk show that airs on a regional network of radio stations. Thompson, the creator of the Heritage of the American West, is a long-time supporter of cowboy and western poets, singer/songwriters and authors.

Later that evening, the play list included a new song by Petermann who put pen to paper in pondering what it's like to break reindeer to pull a sleigh. "I got to thinking about breaking horses to pull a feed wagon—especially this time of year—and began to wonder...'what was it like to break reindeer to pull Santa's sleigh?'" The result, according to Ganje, is destined to become a cowboy Christmas classic.

The poetry of Lariat Laureate Ken Cook had the audience alternately in stitches or tears. "Ken's ability to take listeners where he's been and to relate that to their own experiences—he makes it easy to share that—is what makes him such a special performer," says Ganje. "His poetry and the telling of it welcomes people in—and that will go a long way in bringing this art of story telling to new audiences."

Recorded live, the show aired Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on South Dakota's largest AM station that broadcasts in five states, KBHB 810 AM and also on stations in Belle Fourche and Sundance, WY, KBFS 1450 AM and KYDT 103.1 FM. Other stations have also expressed an interest in broadcasting the performance, with ongoing information to be announced.

For more information about the Heritage of the American West, email Ganje at

See our feature on the Heritage of the American West show here.

Posted 1/11

December, 2009
Cowboy Christmas Ball  Rutlader Outpost near Louisburg, Kansas

  report and photo by Jerry Schleicher


Kansas Cowboy Christmas Ball

Just like Christmas cookies and homemade fudge, it takes the right set of ingredients to bake up a Cowboy Christmas Ball. All those ingredients came together December 19, 2009 for a Cowboy Christmas Ball at the Rutlader Outpost near Louisburg, Kansas.

Start with a tireless organizer and promoter like Judy Johnston, a horse breeder and cowgirl poet from LaCygne, Kansas, who put the whole works together, including the performers, the venue, exhibitors, and all the advertising and promotion. Then blend in a facility large enough to accommodate the audience, the performers and exhibitors, with plenty of space for dancing. The Middle Creek Theatre at the Rutlader Outpost, a country Opry facility equipped with a full stage and a professional sound system, proved to be the perfect venue.

For a little extra spice, season your Cowboy Christmas Ball with vendors selling all sorts of cowboy and Christmas gift merchandise. The Louisburg Cowboy Christmas Ball included exhibitors offering western clothing and cowgirl bling, saddles and bridles, bits, spurs and leatherwork, custom horseshoe art, music CD's, and western art and photography.

Steven Spalding, Abe Reddekopp, Johnny Kendrick, Jackson Kendrick, and Jerry Schleicher

Now stir in your entertainers. The Cowboy Christmas Ball kicked off with Steven Spalding, a former Nashville recording star turned cowboy preacher and cowboy and country gospel recording artist who entertained the audience with songs from his newest CD, A Cowboy Christmas Ball. From Lebanon, Missouri, Steven has preached and performed before more than 70 audiences and congregations in the past year.

Next on stage were Johnny Kendrick and his son, Jackson Kendrick. A rancher and educator from Richards, Missouri, Johnny is a co-founder of the long-running Echoes of the Trail festival in Fort Scott, Kansas, and an accomplished singer and songwriter who's committed to preserving authentic cowboy music and the memory of the American cowboy.

Abe Reddekopp, a multi-lingual cowboy musician and author from Kansas City, performed cowboy and Christmas songs in both English and Spanish. Abe's newest CD, Always A Cowboy, was recently named Cowboy CD of the Year by the Rural Roots Music Association. Jerry Schleicher, a country humorist and cowboy poet from Parkville, Missouri, emceed the event and entertained the audience with contemporary and vintage Christmas cowboy poems. The house band from the Middle Creek Theatre concluded the event with two hours of cowboy dance music.

"I loved attending the Cowboy Christmas Balls when I lived in Texas," Judy says. "I thought it would be fun to put one on here in Kansas, and I think every person who attended had a good time."


December, 2009
Lincoln County Sheriff Posse's 5th Annual Cowboy Ball  Ruidoso, New Mexico

report and photos by Joe Baker

Cowboy Ball & Mountain Annie's scores a 10

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Posse held the 5th Annual Cowboy Ball at Mountain Annie's Dinner Theater ( December 12, 2009 to a sold-out crowd of folks who love to dance to the finest country and western swing music.

Big Spring, Texas native Jody Nix and his Texas Cowboys ( have played the Cowboy Ball for the past five years, presented by Backforty Bunkhouse Productions.

Jody Nix and his Texas Playboys
Jr. Knight, steel, Dalla; Dixie Hankins, drums, Ft. Worth; Robert Weeks, fiddle, Ranger;
Jody Nix, Band Leader - fiddle, Big Spring; and Larry Nix (Jody's older brother) Bass, Big Spring

Jim and Phyllis Strathman their staff at Mountain Annie's did all they could do to make everyone welcome and feel at home, from the fabulous dinner and decorations, Phyllis said the Cowboy Ball has found a new home.

Twin Fiddles, Jody Nix & Robert Weeks

This year was a special year as New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson made a surprise visit to Mountain Annie's to see what the Lincoln County Sheriff's Posse's Cowboy Ball was all about. It's a Lincoln County tradition.

Jody Nix and Governor Bill Richardson, who is a
strong supporter of western swing, cowboy music and
cowboy poetry.

Joe Baker with Governor Bill Richardson

Mark your calendars for December 11, 2010 for the 6th annual Cowboy Ball to be held at Mountain Annie's Dinner Theater
as Backforty Bunkhouse Productions will again present Jody Nix & The Texas Cowboys.

November, 2009
Annual Columbia Gorge Cowboy Gathering  The Dalles, Oregon

report by Duane Lee Nelson, photos by "Oh Shoot" photography by Jan Turner


Well, folks, where were you on the night of November 28th? Watching TV? Maybe playing on-line poker? Or just setting around the house?

I tell you, the right place to be was the historic The Dalles Civic Auditorium, in The Dalles, Oregon, for the 3rd Annual Columbia Gorge Cowboy Gathering (CGCG).

The CGCG, for the third year in a row, was an unqualified success. We started the day with open mic sessions, featuring some invited performers such as poet JB Barber of Genesee, Idaho, Les Masterson (who builds the greatest guitars!) of Hermiston, Oregon, and Coyote Joe Sartin from Milton-Freewater, Oregon, who also emceed the proceedings. Also on hand were Western lifestyle vendors, such as Sacred Heart Saddlery of Goldendale Washington, leather worker Ron Wilson, Arlington, Oregon; Roger Johnson from The Dalles, Oregon with his gorgeous hand-built furniture; beautifully hand-crafted chaps and leather pillows by Dry Creek Fibers of Goldendale, Washington; and premier Buckaroo photographer Mary Williams Hyde.

Cowboy poet Duane Lee Nelson started the evening program with a recital of CR Wood’s patriotic poem, “Ridin’ for the Brand.” Then Barb Nelson from Pendleton, Oregon (nominated for 2008 & 2009 WMA Western Swing Album of the Year) took over the stage and was an absolute hoot! The audience loved her renditions of old cowboy and Western Swing music.

Next up was local poet Duane Lee Nelson, who performed some old classics, and a few of his own poems which included his newest poem, “Mothers Day Branding,” which turned out to be a crowd favorite. Singer-songwriter Coyote Joe Sartin took a break from his emcee duties to regale the crowd with a couple of tunes, including his song “Pretty Painted Ladies,” which was recorded by Chris Ledoux. Then Duane took over again to finish the session with an “audience participation” version of Gale Gardner’s classic, “The Sierry Petes.”

Well, folks, after that came the highlight of the evening. The 2007, 2008, and newly crowned 2009 WMA “Male Performer of the Year,” Mr. Dave Stamey took the stage to enthrall the sold-out crowd with his electrifying brand of Western music.

"Oh Shoot" photography by Jan Turner
Dave Stamey

From the rousing cowboy song “Buckaroo Man” to the humorous “Dude String Trail” and on to the high-energy “Ruby Could Sing,” Dave captivated the audience his guitar, his vocals, and his humor. He then finished the evening with an encore performance of the classic cowboy song, “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”

From beginning to end, the 3rd Annual Columbia Gorge Cowboy Gathering was a ton of fun, and we look forward to the 4th Annual CGCG, coming to you on November 27, 2010.

"Oh Shoot" photography by Jan Turner
 Duane L. Nelson, Lori Campanella (event director), Dave Stamey, Barb Nelson, and Coyote Joe Sartin

"Oh Shoot" photography by Jan Turner
Duane L. Nelson

"Oh Shoot" photography by Jan Turner
Open mic performers Coyote Joe Sartin, singer, song writer; John Schultz; The Olde Tymers (Mike Tenny not available); JB Barber, poet; James Dean, singer; CGCG Queen Sararose; Duane L. Nelson, cowboy and poet; and Lori Campanella event director

"Oh Shoot" photography by Jan Turner
Barb Nelson, 2008/2009 nominee WMA Western Swing Album of the Year


November, 2009
1st Annual Cat Spring Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Cat Spring, Texas

  report and photos by Cade Schalla

1st Annual Cat Spring Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Well it may have been a little off the beaten path and to find it you had to make a few critical turns on some back country roads but the 1st Annual Cat Spring Cowboy Poetry Gathering was a hit! I knew it was going to be good when I crossed the cattle guard and pulled into the ranch and had to honk my horn to get the cattle off the road.

The gathering was held at the Lehmann Legacy Ranch which is owned by Miss Carol Davis of Cat Spring Texas. Carol also operates the Blisswood Bed and Breakfast at the ranch and chose her show barn to be the setting for the event. The entertainment was top notch and everyone there left knowing they had seen a great show. Many of the guests had never heard cowboy poetry and had never experienced western entertainment, but before the night was over they were all fans.

Scott Bumgardner started us off with some of his poetry and stories or should I say "lies." I followed Scott and performed several of my poems along with one I recently wrote titled "Corporate Cowboy," which I think spoke to most of the audience.

Cade Schalla

We then took a break and enjoyed a delicious BBQ dinner complete with brisket, sausage, and all the fixin's not to mention some assorted desserts, which included cobbler and brownies.

Frank Roberts

The entertainment resumed with a performance by local cowboy poet Joe Mingus and then Frank Roberts, Linda Kirkpatrick and Joe Wells (who perform together as "Sunset Serenade") took the stage and did what they do best.

Carol Davis with the Prairie Moon Band

The Prairie Moon Band (Will Sullivan, Michael Callaway, Tim Callaway, and Ron Callaway) came on after Frank, Linda, and Joe and played some authentic cowboy music and western swing.

We had a cash bar on site and folks were able to have a drink, enjoy the night and even do a little dancing.

I was pleased with the talent and the turn out and and look forward to having it again next year.

Find some audio and video of the event at


November, 2009
22nd Annual Rhymers Rodeer  Minden, Nevada

report and photos by Janice Gilbertson


The 22nd annual Rhymers Rodeer took place at the Carson Valley Inn in Minden Nevada on November 6th and 7th. It was held in the warm and comfortable Shannon Ballroom and played to a full house both nights. Bill Henderson, entertainment Director for Carson Valley Inn, Kay Fanning who produces this show with heartfelt dedication and Poet and cowboy Jim King who rounds up and settles in the musicians and poets all came together to produce a grand event both nights.

McAvoy Layne

Host and MC was the unforgettable McAvoy Layne who presents himself as Mark Twain. With his quick wit and Mark Twain voice and soft southern accent, he kept everyone in fits of laughter with every Twainish line. "Mac" has acted out this character for a long time and probably expresses Twain better than Twain himself did.

Rush Creek Quartet

The Rush Creek Quartet played two nice long sets for us each night and the crowd loved them. It was very apparent that these four talented men have more than just their music in common. They are best friends and were celebrating being together after some time of not being able to play together. Bass player Charlie Edsall had been away in Nashville and on a tour to Europe. Guitar player Paul Carreli also flies Navy Jets and has been deployed to Iraq two times. John McLain, with his fabulous guitar playing and smooth cowboy voice began playing with Randy Pollard in 1992. Randy is undoubtedly the most talented fiddle player I have ever heard. He has won numerous awards for his music and appeared on the legendary Grand Ole Opry three times.

Rod McQueary, Janice Gilbertson and Walt "Bimbo" Cheney were the event's poets and their different styles did well to entertain the crowd.

Janice Gilbertson and Bimbo Cheney

Rod's smooth talkin' voice led us from story to story and poem to poem. Janice Gilbertson's poems reflect her lifestyle and the place she has hailed from all of her life. Bimbo's real cowboy way and stories and poems make him extremely popular with the audience.

The Rhymers Rodeer crowd is a loyal one. Many guests have attended the event year after year and many attend both nights. The Carson Valley Inn is in the process of changing owners and Jim King made the Grand announcement that there will indeed be a 23rd Rhymers Rodeer next November.

November 2009
Diamond Mountain Casino Cowboy Poetry and Music  Susanville, California

report and photos by Harold Roy Miller (with additional photos by Allison Cardwell)

The  Diamond Mountain Casino Cowboy Poetry and Music  event was held in Susanville California on November 7, 2009.

The featured entertainers were Johnny Walker, an extraordinary harmonica player; Jim Cardwell, a cowboy poet and a  western singer; and  Harold Roy Miller and Diana Jo Miller, western poets and reciters.

 Johnny Walker, Diana Jo Miller, Harold Roy Miller, and Jim Cardwell

The event started off with a tri-tip steak dinner in the big canvas tent that adjoined the Casino show room. After everyone had eaten all they wanted, we adjourned to the show room, where it was almost filled to capacity. Susanville is known for its tremendous crowd response and they showed it at this event.

First up was Diana Jo Miller reciting her husband's western poems and getting the ball rolling. Then Harold Roy Miller recited some light-hearted poems about horses and cowboys.

Diana Jo Miller

Johnny Walker plays the harmonica as good as any professional musician and he played for a steady 15 minutes without even taking a breath it seemed. He actually got some of the audience to give him a standing ovation.

Jim Cardwell

Jim Cardwell was the anchor, and he delighted the crowd with funny poems and some very nice cowboy singing

We then had a short break and did it all over again. It was a fun gathering and the Mountain Diamond Casino and the Event Manager Catherine Morrison were gracious hosts.


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



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