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(Some links may be out of date.)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



Cartersville (Georgia) March

Vinton (California) March

Lewiston (Idaho) March

Kamloops (British Columbia) March

Hagerman (Idaho) March

See January-February reports here.
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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March, 2009
6th Annual Southeastern Cowboy Gathering  Cartersville, Georgia

   report and photos courtesy of Doc Stovall and the Booth Western Art Museum

[photo of Doc Stovall by Jeri L. Dobrowski; see her gallery of western performers and others here.]


The Booth Western Art Museum's

6th Annual Southeastern Cowboy Gathering

The 6th Annual Southeastern Cowboy Gathering, hosted by the Booth Western Art Museum and presented by Comcast, was held March 12-15, 2009 at the Booth Western Art Museum and the Grand Theatre, both located in historic downtown Cartersville, Georgia. Highlights included the Southeastern Chuck Wagon Cook-off, an evening concert by R.W. Hampton, an old-time fiddle contest, children's activities, a poetry-writing workshop, Dutch oven cooking contest, and a presentation by featured artist John Nieto.

The Cowboy Gathering officially started Thursday evening March 12, at 7:00 p.m., when featured artist John Nieto presented highlights of his career and showed examples of his work in the Booth Theatre. Doc Stovall and the Tumbleweed Cowboy Band performed Western music in the Museum atrium during this time.

On Friday evening at 7:00 p.m., guests were invited to experience The End of the Trail Supper and Concert, which included a
barbeque dinner served on the Booth Museum grounds. Jeanne Cahill and Jerome Campbell, AKA Call of the West, and cowboy poets Tom Kerlin and Bill Mattison entertained guests around the campfire.

Saturday started early as teams of cooks prepared beans, meat, potatoes, bread and desserts just as they did on the cattle drives of the late 1800s in the Annual Southeastern Chuck Wagon Cook-off. Visitors were  invited to watch as teams used authentic ingredients and cooked over an open fire to prepare lunch for the public. This competition was sanctioned by the
American Chuck Wagon Association.


Throughout the day Saturday, top musicians from around the Southeast competed in guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and banjo contests at the Grand Theatre.

Featured entertainer of this year's Cowboy Gathering was R.W. Hampton, one of the leading Western entertainers in America today. Hampton has performed all over the United States, Australia and Brazil. Blessed with a rich baritone voice, Hampton writes and sings about working on ranches and his other life experiences. He was very well received by an appreciative audience.

Cowboy church was held in the Booth Theatre on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. This was a non-denominational church service with a Western flair. Following the service, top cooks from around the southeast competed in the Dutch Oven Cooking Contest on the Museum grounds. This competition was sanctioned by IDOS with the all-around winner eligible to compete in the International Dutch Oven Cook-off in Utah.

The Georgia Youth Cowboy Poetry Contest finals were held Sunday afternoon. Winners were declared in three categories, Grades 5-6, Grades 7-8, and Grades 9-12 with a prize fund of $1000 dedicated to each category. See to view the winners.

Save the dates: The 2009 Southeastern Cowboy Festival and Symposium will be held October 23-25, 2009 and features Baxter Black and The Sisters of the Silver Sage. The 2010 Southeastern Cowboy Gathering will be held March 12-14, 2010 and features Red Steagall, Jean Prescott, Yvonne Hollenbeck and Liz Masterson.

See our feature on the Booth Western Art Museum and its events here.

March, 2009
Fifth Annual Lee Earl Memorial Cowboy Gathering   Lewiston, Idaho

  report and photos by Smoke Wade

photo of Smoke Wade by Jeri L. Dobrowski; see her gallery of western performers and others here.


5th Annual Lee Earl Memorial Scholarship Cowboy Gathering

For the fifth consecutive year cowboy poets and musicians gathered (on March 5 – 8, 2009) in Lewiston, Idaho, for the 5th Annual Lee Earl Memorial Scholarship Cowboy Gathering. With 95 performers attending in a "Cowboy Woodstock" style, 30 hours of poetry and music were presented to tireless audiences.

The gathering is held annually to raise money for a scholarship fund in the memory of Lee Earl. Two scholarships of one thousand dollars each are awarded each year to local area students majoring in English and music. Earl was a prominent local cowboy poet and he was involved in youth programs that promoted cowboy poetry and western music at local area schools. Lee died in August of 2004.

Organizers Donna and Virginia Earl

The event started off at 8:30 on Thursday morning with a school assembly at the Asotin Elementary School, Asotin, WA. The 4th, 5th and 6th grade students had all participated in a cowboy poetry contest, and the winners from each classroom presented their poetry in front of the student body. Event organizer, Donna Earl, hosted the assembly. Smoke Wade, NV, and Jim Aasen, WA presented cowboy poetry and music. The poetry contest winners were invited to the Elks Lodge to participate in the Lil’ Cowpokes poetry & Music hour on Saturday.

On Thursday evening, there was a house concert at the Jawbone Flat Café in Clarkston, WA, featuring the cowgirl band, Horse Crazy (Lauralee Northcott, Emele Clothier and Jennifer Epps) of Washington, followed by a well-attended no-host dinner social at the Moose Lodge which was one block down the street. Sixty performers, family members and fans gathered at the social to renew old friendships and to get acquainted with new friends. Following the dinner, many of the performers shared in an informal jam session at the lodge.

Lauralee Northcott

As March snow storms visited the area, a flurry of events got under way Friday morning at 10:00 a.m. Poets and musicians scurried about town to participate in local school assemblies and performances at local businesses. Nineteen of the cowboy entertainers gathered at KRLC 1350AM radio station to participate in a live broadcast on the Western Heritage Show hosted by Toe Tappin’ Tommy Tucker. Both the radio station and Tucker have won several awards from the Academy of Western Artists and the Western Music Association.

Meanwhile, the Midday Cowboy Show took place at the main event center in the Lewiston Elks Lodge. Eric Larson, WA, hosted the two-hour show. The program featured a dozen poets and musicians.

High noon marked the start of two other venues at the Elks Lodge. In the trade show room, hourly sessions on the vendor’s stage featured poets, musicians and open mic participants. In the main lobby of the Elk’s Lodge, musicians were assigned to a continuous jam session in the lobby fire pit that continued until 5:30 p.m. Intertwined with the three simultaneous venues, art and gear vendors tended their booths including local saddle maker, Ed Earl; Don Mallory, silversmith; and John Geis, bronze sculptor.

Matinee Showcase performances where hosted during the afternoon on the main stage by Sam Mattise, ID, and Smoke Wade. The featured night show performers gave the audience a sample of their talents during the matinees.

Jinny Lowe, ID treated the early dinner crowd to a special presentation of honky-tonk piano, as they assembled in the main event center. A local bluegrass band, Wanigan, entertained during the dinner hour followed by Andy Bales, WA, and Coyote Joe Sartin, OR, with pre-show entertainment.

The Friday Night Show got under way at 6:30 with Toe Tappin’ Tommy Tucker as the emcee. The kickin’ cowgirl band, Horse Crazy, presented a rousing rendition of the Canadian National Anthem followed by the U.S. National Anthem. The Canadian Anthem was presented to show respect to the Canadian performers and audience members. Following the patriotic opening, the audience was welcomed by event coordinators, Smoke Wade and Donna Earl. The featured performers for the evening included Idaho cowboy poets JB Barber and Howard Norskog. The poets representing Washington state were David Rustabakke, Orvil Sears, and Mike Whitaker. Included in the mix of poets were Kathy and Van Criddle, OR. Western musicians included Dallas and P.J. McCord, OR; Shiloh Sharrard, ID; and Sam Mattise, ID.

Following the evening show, Shayne & Alane Watkins, ID, of the musical group, Beargrass, conducted a western dance. Sometime after midnight, the cowboy performers hung up their spurs and turned in for the evening.

Early next morning, at 8:00 a.m. to be exact, the musical trio, STAMPEDE! (Steve and Terri Taylor and David Anderson) from Ogden, UT played breakfast music at the Station 3 Family Restaurant back across the river in Clarkston, WA.

The Saturday programs at the main event center started at 10:00 a.m. with a special Cowboy Coffee show hosted by Howard Norskog, followed by the Saturday Morning Wake Up Music show hosted by David Nordquist, WA. And once again all day sessions were presented on the vendor’s stage and at the fire pit jam session.

By noon on Saturday, the Elks Lodge was packed for the Lil’ Cowpokes Show that ran from noon – 1:15 p.m. Over twenty youth performers participated including the winners from local school poetry contests. Despite unusual winter weather, the event center was standing room only for the youth hour.

BJ Smith

Following the youth show, the dreaded Tall Tales of the West contest got under way hosted by Dallas McCord. The contestants included Dave Nordquist, Howard Norskog, Smoke Wade, Sam DeLeeuw, Van Criddle, Sam Mattise, Terri Taylor, BJ Smith, Cindy Worth and Harley Sharrard. After the dust had settled and trouser legs were rolled back down, Van Criddle, Oregon, was declared this years champion teller of tall tales for the third year in a row. Van officially became the Champion Storyteller of Lewiston, Idaho with his victory. Prior to the Lee Earl Cowboy Gathering inauguration, three storytellers had won the event twice each during the previous Lewis-Clark Cowboy Festival years: Charlie Camden, Howard Norskog and Smoke Wade.

Harley Sharrard

An afternoon matinee hosted by Smoke Wade followed the tall tales. The matinee featured ten cowboy poets and musicians.

Once again, the early dinner-seating crowd was treated to Jinny Lowe on the honky-tonk piano followed with dinner music presented by a local popular western band, Beargrass. The pre-show entertainment was "Awesome" Jim Aasen and Bodie Dominguez, both of Washington.

The Saturday Night Show was hosted by Toe Tappin’ Tommy Tucker. The Canadian and American National Anthems, were once again sung by Horse Crazy in spell binding harmony. Following the anthem was a welcome from Smoke Wade and Donna Earl. Each evening’s performance was opened with a poetry track of Lee Earl’s CD, Shot From The Hip.

Lil’ cowpoke, Jamie Fiest opened the show with a set cowboy and classic country songs. Each year, the first performer invited back to the Lee Earl Cowboy Gathering is one of the Lil’ Cowpokes from the Saturday youth hour. Jamie was the first invited performer for 2009. The capacity crowd was treated to exceptional performances presented by poets Sam DeLeeuw, UT and Bryan "BJ" Smith, Alberta. Both poets presented outstanding entertainment. DeLeeuw was named AWA Storyteller/Humorist of the year in 2008. BJ Smith was equally humorous with his poetic stories from north of the border.

Headlining the music for the evening was The High Strung Band (The Reddington Family), OR, Horse Crazy, WA, Nevada Slim & Cimarron Sue, WA, and STAMPEDE!, UT.

STAMPEDE! has become a crowd favorite over the years in Lewiston. The group consists of past WMA President, Steve Taylor, his wife and yodeling champion, Terri Taylor, and genuine cowboy singer and songwriter, David Anderson. Terri is known as "The Epiglottis Goddess." STAMPEDE! was awarded the 2006 Crescendo Award from the Western Music Association.


Horse Crazy, featuring Lauralee Northcott, Emele Clothier and Jennifer Epps always manage to light up the stage with their tight harmony and action packed energy. This was their second year at the gathering.

Nevada Slim & Cimarron Sue presented traditional cowboy songs in harmony much to the delight of the audience. This was also their second year as well at the Lee Earl Cowboy Gathering.

Nevada Slim and Cimarron Sue

In the midst of all the high-talent performances of the evening’s show, one group stood out from the rest. The show stealers were the Reddington Family, OR, also known as the High Strung Band. The mother, Jennifer, played guitar, while the father, Shawn, played stand up bass. But the energy of the group came from the children. With precision and perfection, the three youngsters managed to take the audience to the next level. 11 year-old, Megan and 13 year-old, Hunter, played exception fiddle music, while 16 year-old Landen, on guitar, was a flat picking wizard. This group has earned the respect of many gathering organizers, and their name is on the "must book" list for many major western events.

The High Strung Band

During the midpoint of the show, silent auction winners were announced and a raffle drawing was held for a cowboy poetry quilt made by Virginia Earl. Many performers donated CDs and books that were used in the silent auction including a copy of the The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Three (2008) along with three years of Cowboy Poetry Week posters donated by

At the end of the show, Smoke Wade and Donna Earl hosted the People’s Choice Award show. The 2009 winner’s were Poet- Cindy Worth, WA; Musician-Andy Bales, WA; Musical Group-Wanigan; Artisan–Wendy Sandefut; Teller of Tall Tales-Van Criddle; and Lil’ Cowpoke Musician-Carman Eggleston. The People’s Choice Awards were determined by voting with dollars as part of the fund-raising effort. Each performer had a donation can with their name on it in the lobby. The one with the most money was the People’s Choice Award winner.

Cindy Worth

Following the evening show, a special guest, local dance musician, Hal Olson, kicked off the cowboy dance followed by Stampede! And once again, the cowboy performers danced and jammed until the wee hours of the morning.

Howard Norskog

The Christian Cowboy Balladeers, with Howard Norskog as church leader, hosted a Cowboy Church on Sunday morning. Following the church service, once again the cowboy poets and musicians bade each other farewell, promising to meet once again, somewhere along the cowboy poetry trail.

Donations to the Lee Earl Scholarship Fund  fund may be sent to:
Lee Earl Memorial Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 88
Asotin, WA 99402 

Read some of Lee Earl's poetry here.


March, 2009
Third Annual Hagerman Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Hagerman, Idaho

  report by Bobbie Hunter with photos by  Linda Merrill

Hagerman, Idaho, located in Gooding County, is a nature-lover's retreat. It is home to the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, and the Hagerman Horse Quarry fossil beds.

It is also the site of the third annual Hagerman Cowboy Poetry Gathering which was held on March 20-23, 2009. Its population of somewhere around 700 swelled in size as fans gathered from near and far to enjoy the event. As in years past, it was held in the American Legion Hall—a location uniquely suited to the occasion.

An amazing mix of camaraderie and talent compounded exponentially to create an acme of perfection at both the Friday and Saturday night shows. Audiences enthusiastically experienced the true flavor of a gathering; participants portrayed the best of cowboy poetry and music in this truly Western art form.

photo by Linda Merrill
Sam Mattise, Wayne Nelson, and Kurt Argyle (of Saddle Strings)

Those most responsible for the gathering are Ken and Emma Wellard, and Eunice Wellard. The event began as a dream come true, and is now a thriving event—and fast becoming a favorite of many of the performers.

Les Merrill (Idaho) provided equipment and handled the sound system. He performed this duty remarkably well which added to the success of the gathering.

Gordon Peterson acted as emcee for the Friday night show, and Garde Bowman along with Bob and Marion Baird (all of Idaho) provided the pre-show entertainment.

The Friday Night performers were: Wayne Nelson, Tony McGuire, Arden Gailey, Linda Merrill, Don Shelman, Sam Mattise, Allan and Corean Romriell, Layle Bagley—all from Idaho. Also performing were: Lauri Tye, Saddle Strings (Brian Arnold, Bud Brown, Laurie Morgan, Kurt and Cindy Argyle)—all from Utah. Keven Inman (Washington) and Lonnie Shurtleff (Oregon) also performed on the Friday night show.

photo by Linda Merrill
Wayne Nelson

Layle Bagley, under disguise as various noble and distinguished visiting hosts (and some pretty seedy ones, too), acted as emcee for the Saturday night show. He managed to completely shock and astonish the unsuspecting audience (and performers) with each costume change.

photo by Linda Merrill
Layle Bagley as one of his zany emcee personalities

Saturday night's preshow was provided by Arden Gailey and Bruce "Loose lip" Pinson, both from Idaho. Other performers were: Garde Bowman, J.B. Barber, Bobbie Hunter, Bill Chiles, Vern Woodbury, Orvil Sears, and Gordon Peterson—all from Idaho. Traveling from Utah were Saddle Strings, Don Kennington, Ken Wellard, Sam DeLeeuw, and Stampede! (Terri and Steve Taylor, and Dave Anderson).

photo by Linda Merrill
Sam DeLeeuw

photo by Linda Merrill
Don Kennington

As led by Bill Chiles, each night's performers climbed aboard stage and in one grand finale closed the show with the singing of "I Saw the Light." This has now become a tradition identified with Hagerman, and is a crowd-pleaser to the very last note.

Other performers were: Elden Thompson, Tom and Connie Patton, Marty Holmes, Lloyd Warnick, Ken Wellard (performing Eunice Wellard's poetry)—all from Idaho. Jenny Lynn Anderson, daughter of Dave Anderson, from Utah, thrilled the audience with her strong and distinctive voice—she's an up-and-coming star, and brings youth and vitality to the stage.

photo by Linda Merrill
Lonnie Shurtleff

On Sunday morning the Senior Citizen's Building housed a session of Cowboy Church—arguably the best ever. Attendance was good. Everyone who participated presented music and verse especially suited to the Sabbath.

All too soon the weekend came to a close, and the "cowboy poetry family" parted company. As each performer hit the dusty trail they took with them wonderful memories of an exciting weekend.

Next year's date will be March 26-27, 2010. Folks are already looking forward to it, so mark your calendar—you'll be glad you did.


March, 2009
13th Annual Kamloops Cowboy Festival  Kamloops, British Columbia

  report by Mag Mawhinney

photos by Vern Mawhinney and Jerry (Paul Stainer)

See many more photos from the event by Donna Smith here and by Jerry (Paul Stainer) here.

Visit the BCCHS web site for additional reports and photos.


March 13-15, 2009



“Festival Bound!”  That was the enticing invitation, beautifully painted by this year’s festival poster artist, Lesley White.  The image of a cowboy troubadour on horseback depicted the true essence of what a cowboy festival is all about. Folks were “bound” to have a wonderful time as soon as they walked through the doors of Forsters Convention Centre. Through a bustle of activity, volunteers were ready to steer them in the right direction to hear great music and poetry and to view some of the highest quality western craftsmanship found anywhere.


Festival organizers with two-way radios flashing on their hips and over 100 hard-working volunteers did their very best to make everyone feel welcome and to ensure everything ran smoothly. This event increases in popularity each year and Forsters staff was very helpful, working diligently to make folks comfortable. Their delicious buffet dinners were plentiful with lots of variety and they were speedy in setting up extra seating for the over-flow crowd after the dinners in the theatre.  That was even needed for the kick-off party on Thursday night!  A huge crowd of weekend pass holders came to listen to a mix of Rising Stars “jam” with some of the seasoned performers. These jams continued after the features every night and even spilled over into the Green Room.  Singer/musician Gordie West, bass player Mike Dygert, along with honkytonk piano player Jinny Lowe from Idaho, entertained folks in fine style during the dinner hours. As part of the after dinner show, can can dancers Les Folles Jambettes brought their lively act down the aisles and danced to some music reminiscent of the gold rush days.


In the festival store, photos of poets and pickers were highly visible above their products and the room was large and accommodating, complete with signing table. The huge room across the hall held The Western Art and Gear Show and 50 artisans and trades people displayed their excellent works. Among the most unique was Jordan Straker’s magnificent woodcarvings, pieces of the west so life-like you’d swear they were real!  Jordan donated one of his carvings to the BCCHS to raise funds for future art show prize money and the lucky bidder went home very happy. 


All 43 performers, ranging from preteen to octogenarian, were uniquely talented and  well-received by appreciative audiences. Eleven Americans added greatly to the success of the festival and one of them was the oldest—eighty-seven-year-old, award-winning poet Georgie Sicking. She was as sharp as a tack and proudly told her stories with a style befitting a true “cowboy.” 


photo by Vern Mawhinney
Georgie Sicking


There were many standing ovations throughout the weekend and no performer received more than singer/master guitarist Ed Peekeekoot. He gets my vote as the “all-round entertainer” of the festival. His charisma, humor and talent that just wouldn’t quit, lit up the stage. He literally became one with every instrument he played...and I counted four.  He even had the northern lights magically dancing on his guitar strings, but when he played “Malaguena,” the crowd went wild! He cheerfully accompanied other performers, including one of the Rising Stars, and filled in spots where entertainment was needed.


 photo by Jerry (Paul Stainer)
Ed Peekeekoot


I also commend the enthusiasm of Horse Crazy, three fun-loving gals from Washington State. They are talented singers/musicians in their own right, but their harmony is outstanding! They just love to perform and that comes across every time they step up to the mics. One time, in the open mic area in the Fireside Room at the Calvary Community Church, only four people were in the audience, but Horse Crazy entertained as though there were five hundred…and it wasn’t long before the room was full. One of the gals from this musical group won the commemorative 2009 Kamloops Cowboy Festival silver belt buckle which was raffled off and you couldn’t wipe the smile from her face. Congratulations, Jennifer!


photo by Vern Mawhinney
Horse Crazy with Cimarron Sue
 Jennifer Epps, Cimarron Sue, Emele "EC" Clothier, and Lauralee Northcott


Performers had alternate sets on main stages at Forsters and the Church and open mics were set up in the Fireside Room and in one corner of the Trade Show area.These small stages were also utilized for the two preliminary rounds of the Rising Stars Showcase, where judges based their findings from a list of requirements on their ballots. The final round was presented in the dinner theatre on Sunday afternoon and the winners of each category, one for poetry and one for music, received a cheque for $1,000 from CKJC Country 103, the sponsors of the event. Eleven-year-old singer, Naomi Bristow, from Ontario, won the hearts of the judges and audience with her polished stage presence and superb yodeling and cowboy poet, Mel Brown from Alberta, rhymed some great cowboy logic to rack up the votes. Tiffany Dowhan, Scott Laitre, Frank Ritcey and Lyn Melnechenko also lined their pockets with $500 each as runner-ups. Congratulations go to all!

 photo by Jerry (Paul Stainer)
Mel Brown

Many other award presentations took place at the festival: an Art of the West Exhibition and Sale with several categories; the BCCHS Student Scholarship Awards (one for cowboy craft, one for written word and three art awards); the Joe Marten Memorial Award for the promotion and preservation of Cowboy/Western Heritage in the province of BC; four inductions into the Cowboy Hall of Fame; one fundraiser silent auction for saddle maker, Don Loewen, who had been hospitalized and another silent auction of many western products for the BCCHS Student Scholarship funds.  There were also several workshops and seminars throughout the weekend and I attended Gary Fjellgaard’s hour on songwriting. About 35 novices bent their ears to Gary’s expertise as one of our country’s most creative songwriters.


The Monarch District Girl Guides, under the leadership of Linda Puhallo, served up some great vittles all weekend, which included two dinner entrees for about 140 people both Friday and Saturday nights. This played a great service for folks who wished to stay in the Church area to watch the evening presentations instead of attending Forsters’ dinner theatre shows.


Sunday’s Cowboy Church was packed to capacity (about 800) and Abe Zacharias welcomed them in by singing some wonderful gospel tunes like “Jesus, It’s Me Again.” Nine of the main stage performers participated in the service with spiritual poems or songs. The Church’s Pastor Don, who has a great sense of humour, came in carrying a match on the end of a stick and presented this “redneck flashlight” to Mike Puhallo. After Mike’s story about having a recurrent dream, which in reality had saved his wife’s life, Pastor Don’s joke about “seeing the light only once”, got the crowd’s attention. Poet/preacher Bryn Thiessen followed that up by advising everyone to pay attention to the signs and to trust God because he’s in control.


The festival ended with one last dinner theatre show where 100 seats were reserved as a token of appreciation to the many wonderful volunteers.  Without them, the organizers and all the generous sponsors, the festival could not have taken place.  I just know there were many special moments of this event that are “bound” to draw folks back again next year and I’ll bet they’ll bring some friends along too.


The full list of performers included Abe Zacharias, Al Owchar, Alan Moberg, Allen Christie, Brett Kissel, Bryn Thiessen, Bud Webb, Chuck Irvin, Cimarron Sue and Nevada Slim, Corky Williams, Dave Longworth, Diane Tribitt, Ed Peekeekoot, Frank Gleeson, Fred Dobirstein, Fred Miller, Gary Fjellgaard, Georgie Sicking, Gwen Petersen, Gordie West, Hazel Rust, Horse Crazy, Hugh McLennan, Jeff Strandquist, Jinny Lowe, Juni Fisher, Kent Rollins, Larry Krause, Les Folles Jambettes, Leslie Keltner, Lloyd Dolen, Mag Mawhinney, Matt Robertson, Mereline Griffith, Mike Dygert, Mike Puhallo, Sandy Seaton, Sharky & Chris Schauer, and Shirley Field.

See many more photos from the event by Donna Smith here and by Jerry (Paul Stainer) here.

Visit the BCCHS web site for additional reports and photos.


March, 2009
23rd Annual Vinton Cowboy Poetry Show   Vinton, California

report and photos by Laurel Paulson-Pierce

23rd Annual Vinton Cowboy Poetry and Olde Time Music Festival  

The Cowboy Poetry and Music event is held in Vinton, a small town at the intersection of  Highways 70 and 49, in Northeastern California, near the Nevada border. This 23rd annual spring show was held on March 20 and 21, 2009 at the historic Sierra Valley Grange Hall. This is a benefit and proceeds go to the Grange building fund.

For the first 9 years, this show was headed up by Doug McCutcheon, a local resident.  After his death, the 10th event was held as a memorial to him by members of his family.  The organizer of this event for the last 13 years has been Betty Ramelli. She and many other volunteers including other Grange members, 4-H youth and other local residents have pitched in to make this a successful event.  During the spring weekend, there are three shows and two dinners. About 5 years ago they began adding a day with two shows and  a dinner in the fall. 

Betty Ramelli

The National Cowboy Gathering in Elko, Nevada celebrated their silver anniversary this year. the Vinton event, started 2 years after Elko has been held for 23 years, and is the longest running event of this type in California.

There were four performers at the 2009 Vinton show.

Larry Maurice, who has won many awards including the Will Rogers Cowboy Award, from the Academy of Western Artists, and the American Cowboy Culture Award. He is a horse wrangler and packer and leads trail rides in the eastern Sierras, works cattle near Bishop, and raises horses in the Palomino Valley, south of Pyramid Lake. Larry has hosted television shows on the FOX network, and is involved in the Western Film Festival in Lone Pine, California. He describes the campfire as the cowboy’s locker room. One of his poems draws us to that campfire and instructs the audience to “hold on, hold on to leather and hope.” You can find out more at his web site:

Larry Maurice

Singer, songwriter and poet Richard Elloyan hails from Dayton Nevada. He grew up in the historic mining town of Virginia City and was surrounded by characters and stories from the West. One of his songs chronicles an historic event from 1844 when John C. Fremont was travelling and mapping the west from St. Louis to Fort Vancouver. The song hypothesizes about the fate of a cannon that was left behind by Fremont’s expedition. Richard has composed a love song called “When the Black Top is in Bloom,” and a number inspired by a trip to the 49’er camp and fiddle contest in Death Valley called the “R.V. Park Waltz.”  He sings original songs inspired by the Sierras and the cowboy philosophy. See:

Richard Elloyan

Award-winning poet, story teller and humorist Chris Isaacs has lived the cowboy life. He shares the experiences of packing, horseshoeing and rodeo performing with the audience. He claims that his stories are “securely based on a slim foundation of possible fact.” He has been in a trio, a partnership of cowboy poets called the “Cardiac Cowboys” along with Jessie Smith, and Sunny Hancock (now deceased). They decided that the best way to approach aging was with humor. Chris has won the Will Rogers cowboy award three times, and also the Western Heritage Award, The Will Rogers Medallion Award for Excellence, Poetry Album of the Year, and many more. More here:

Chris Isaacs

From Tulare, California, George Dickey has performed western music in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and throughout the western states. He believes in the traditions and music of the Old West and his mission, as one of his songs declares, is “Keepin’ the Dream Alive.” His song “They Call Me Vaquero” was one of the top 10 Western songs on in 2005.  His repertoire includes classic old-time songs such as "Shenandoah" and "Git Along Little Dogies."  For more info see:

George Dickey

These performers all offered the audience wonderful stories, poems and songs which were filled with images from the times when the West was young and the frontier was being built by independent souls and cattle drives were a way of life.  The ideas they presented ranged from serious to hilarious, romantic to historical.  This cowboy poetry and music brings the past alive today, and it is here to stay!  It is becoming more and more popular with many shows, and festivals and gatherings.  It speaks and sings of down-to-earth people and we all can learn to incorporate the “Cowboy Way” into our everyday lives.

The Grange organization is a rural association which has served the farming and ranching community since it began.  This is a natural partnership to have the cowboy  poems, stories, and songs being performed and the Grange Hall. These events are supported, in part, by the Poets and Writers, Inc. through a grant from the James Irvine Foundation. You can your support the the cowboy artists and the Sierra Valley Grange by planning to attend the next show.  It will be held on Sat. Sept. 26, 2009 and will feature musician Dave Stamey, poet Diane Tribitt and on harmonica, Gary Allegretto. Shows will be at 1 p.m. and at 7:30 p.m. and BBQ Rib dinner will be served from 4 – 7 p.m. Show tickets are $18 for adults and $6 for children, and seats are reserved.  Dinner is $12 for adults and $6 for children. The Sierra Valley Grange hall is located at 92202 Highway 70, Vinton, California.

For tickets or more information contact Betty Ramelli at P.O. Box 15, Vinton, CA, 96135 or e-mail

George Dickey, Chris Isaacs, Betty Ramelli, Larry Maurice, and Richard Elloyan


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



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