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(Some links may go out of date.)

2010 Reports



Third Annual Tyrone Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, Tyrone, New Mexico, April

Third Annual Olive Warner Memorial Library Cowboy Poetry Celebration, Hooker, Oklahoma, April

12th Annual Missouri Cowboy Poets Association Festival, Mountain View, Missouri, April

Spokane Symphony Cowboy Show  Spokane, Washington, April

22nd Annual St. Anthony Cowboy Poetry Gathering, St. Anthony, Idaho  April

2nd Annual Songs of the Cowboys, Cody, Wyoming, April

Sixth Annual Lee Earl Memorial Scholarship Cowboy Gathering, Lewiston, Idaho, March

First Annual Cowboy Poetry & Western Music Festival, West Jordan, Utah, March



Find January-February reports here.
Find May-August reports here.
Find September-October reports here.
Find November-December reports here.

See reports from 2009 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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April, 2010
Third Annual Tyrone Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering  Tyrone, New Mexico
~ Celebrating Cowboy Poetry Week

report and photos by Totsie Slover
[Totsie Slover photograph by Lori Faith Merritt]


It was indeed a treat to attend the 3rd Annual Tyrone Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering in Tyrone, New Mexico on April 24, 2010. Pete and Dianne Kennedy seemed to have everything running like clockwork when we arrived.

Randy Huston and Jim Jones

The headliners for the show were Jim Jones (singer, songwriter and author from Corrales, New Mexico); Randy Huston who was accompanied on stage by his daughter Hannah Huston (be prepared for great things from her in a couple of years) from Las Vegas, New Mexico; Diane Tribitt, rancher and cowboy poet from Minnesota; and Way Out West, a great trio from Tucson, Arizona, who sang traditional western music as well as songs of their own.

Diane Tribitt

Way Out West

Paul Harris

I probably don’t need to expound on any of this talent as they are so well known and appreciated. Paul Harris was there sporting a NEW HAT! The hat may have received more attention than his great music or poetry…but it was fun! He finally had to bring the old one out to prove he was the real Paul Harris.

Folks I met for the first time were Bud Strom, cowboy poet, retired Brigadier General and rancher from Hereford, Arizona. What an honor it was to meet him. And he does a mighty fine job as a poet as well! Dean Foster is a 5th generation rancher in the southwest corner of New Mexico and entertains beautifully singing songs about ranch life. Cindy Rae from Willcox, Arizona has a perfect voice for traditional county music. She was a treat.

Lee Anderson met us outside the front door, horseback and dressed in authentic cowboy clothing from the turn of the last century. He’s quite a story teller and educates his audience dressed in the attire appropriate to the era. I’m sure when he is making school appearances he has those kids in the palm of his hand.

Acting as both cowboy poets or singers and emcees were Pete Kennedy, Mike Moutoux and Ken Whitecotton.

Congratulations to all who had a part in this gathering. It was well organized, well attended and had talented entertainers. I’ll be attending again next year!

This report appeared originally in Joe Baker's Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, which is edited by Totsie Slover.

April, 2010
Third Annual Olive Warner Memorial Library Cowboy Poetry Week Celebration  Hooker, Oklahoma ~ Celebrating Cowboy Poetry Week

Library Director Carolyn Blackwelder sent a report and photos about the Third Annual Olive Warner Memorial Library Cowboy Poetry Week Celebration in Hooker, Oklahoma:

We had fun with our celebration here at Olive Warner Memorial Library and our State Legislators sent us an award, a commendation. I kept it secret from our featured poet, Janet Eggleston, and had a copy of it framed for her. Our City Mayor, Rod Childress, came and presented the Commendation to the library, and then the framed one to Janet. Since it also names her parents, it was icing on the cake!

Janet Eggleston broke us up laughing so hard we thought our teeth might fall out over her poem about Cross-Eyed Carl and his Double Dilemma. (He had forty head, but thought he had eighty, and so on, until he married, and HER twin sister moved in, too.) Then she shifted gears on us and we all bawled when she took us into the drama of "A Mother's Cry," telling about that mare grieving over a lost foal, and when nothing would comfort her, the woman's little child went right into that pen and offered a flake of alfalfa. The woman gave a primal scream of fear, and it must have been heard, for instead of stomping him to pudding, the mare reached out in love, and her heart began to mend. Well, you should have seen our crowd, Janet had to stop and pass the tissues. Women had black rain drops running down their faces.

When I read through all the grade school cowboy poetry entries, it came over me, that the fine hand of those teachers was very evident. They had explained different forms of poetry, as well as our Cowboy and Pioneer heritage in this area, even down to why that spring wheat is important to raising cattle around here. Some entered "shape" poems where the words of their poem were the outline of a steer head, or a running horse or a hat. Some were "free verse." Some were word-thoughts. Some were epic. And one was a darn good limerick. But then I understood why the contest is preserving our heritage, with the teachers explaining it and guiding them to put their thoughts on paper.

Although we live in a rural sort of town of 1778 people, approx. Many of the kids have parents who work in town, and so they aren't exposed to all the details of farm and ranch life. Without this focus, they might never stop to consider the early days of our town, the area we live in, and how our cowboy culture has value even today in this century.

In my library promotions catalog, I found posters that said, "Saddle Up and Read Pardner!" with cute bookmarks to match. We also got plastic book bags with the same logo. Then we ordered round stickers that looked like a brand that read "Caught Reading". (Janet's new book has the word "brands" in it...) We had two little girls handing out info about the Legend of Hooker Threlkyld, and then they would go back and pounce upon people (in a gentle SLUG-BUG fashion) and proclaim, "Ah! Caught you reading!" and place a sticker on their sleeve until they had most of the crowd "branded."

Our refreshment table had "Cow Tails," Beef Jerky, Jolly Ranchers, and animal crackers. When the kids caught on, they snickered too.

Our hometown newspaper gave us great publicity.


Library Director Carolyn Blackwelder writes that she is always glad for an opportunity to clarify the origins of her city's name, and shared some information from Lost Trails of the Cimarron by Harry E. Chrisman.

"The Legend of Hooker Threlkeld"

John “Hooker” Threlkeld was so nick-named after General “Fighting Joe” Hooker of Civil War fame, some say. Others say he received his name after an old cattleman on the Beaver River whose name was Hooker. Still others say he received his name by being such a “Hooker—of cattle”—that is, a top roper. Wherever he received that nickname, we know how the town of Hooker, got it’s name for it was named after John “Hooker” Threlkeld. Hooker was born in Kentucky, November 134, 1846. He came west with his parents to Missouri. On May 15, 1864, he joined up with a freight outfit and bullwhacked west from Omaha to Virginia City, Montana with his two brothers. In 1873, Hooker came to No Man’s Land where he spent the next thirty years in the saddle. He was foreman for the OX Ranch many years. When the OX withdrew to Montana after the disastrous blizzards of 1886, Hooker was given their side camp on the Frisco, later the Tom Stratton Ranch. That year Hooker married Hannah Davis of Greeley, Kansas. When Hannah’s folks came to that region, Hooker yielded his ranch, the XX Frisco, they called it, to her parents, and he and Hannah went to open up a new place farther up the Frisco. They called the new ranch the Hooker Ranch. He hauled lumber for his new home from Dodge and also built outbuilding of sod and stone....

Old cowboys who have seen Hooker in action described him as one of the really great ropers of the day, a man who could ride quietly into a heard, drop a tight, small, and fast loop from either side of his mount and catch calves standing beside or under their mothers. This type of roping, more so than the sensational run and catch kind, accomplished the day’s work on the range with speed and without ostentation. It was the sort of roping most highly regarded by the cowmen themselves..... He died December 5, 1939 at Redondo Beach, California.


April, 2010
12th Annual Missouri Cowboy Poets Association Festival  Mountain View, Missouri  ~ Celebrating Cowboy Poetry Week

  report by Jerry Schleicher, photos by Laurel Dunlap

Big MCPA Doin's in Mountain View

Rainy spring weather didn't keep tireless organizer Jennie Cummings and 17 cowboy musicians, singers and poets from five states from successfully staging the 12th annual Missouri Cowboy Poets Gathering in Mountain View, Missouri, on April 23-25, 2010.

This year's event began on Friday afternoon with a free show for Mountain View Elementary students at the Mountain View Community Center, followed that evening by a "Cowboy Poet Round-Up Show." The audience also had the opportunity to hear several of the Mountain View 4th graders recite their winning entries in the Student Cowboy Poetry Contest. Student poets included Chandler Foster, Justice Moore, Morgan Bell, Corey Rogers, Kayla Delp, Tyler Apple, Kali Campbell, Dustin Shannon and Alleah Marshall.

Many MCPA members performed for the residents of the Mountain View Health Care Center on Saturday morning, then hurried back to the Community Center in time for the 12:30 kick-off of the afternoon show. That evening, all 17 performers participated in the Grand Finale show.

photo by Laurel Dunlap

Back row (l to r): Jake White, Brookline, Mo.; D.J. Fry, Oronogo, Mo.; Donna Carruthers, Warsaw, Mo.; Ken Lorton, Vinita, Ok.; Abe Reddekopp, Kansas City, Mo.; Maryetta Coomes, Lynchburg, Mo.; Neal Torrey, Bolivar, Mo.; and Rhoda Foster, Mountain View, Mo.

Front row (l to r): Francine Roark Robison, Tecumseh, Ok.; Phil Rexwinkle, Welch, Ok.; Gail Burton, Benton, Ark.; Steven Spalding, Lebanon, Mo.; Jennie Cummings, Mountain View, Mo.; Harold Carpenter, Sedan, Ks.; John Beltz, Willow Springs, Mo.; Wanda and Harold Williams, Joplin, Mo.; Mike Butler, Neosho, Mo.; Royce Smithey, Bonham, Tx.; and Richard Dunlap, Louisburg, Mo.

Ken Lorton, a popular cowboy poetry reciter and leather braider from Vinita, Ok., performed and served as co-emcee at all three shows on Friday and Saturday. Saturday night's first group also included D.J. Fry, a cowboy singer and guitarist from Oronogo, Mo.; Abe Reddekopp, an author and cowboy musician from Kansas City, Mo.; Jake White, a long-time MCPA member and cowboy poet; and Maryetta Coomes, a cowboy poet who, with her husband, owns the Double Heart Ranch near Lynchburg, Mo.

Naida and Harold Carpenter

Richard Dunlap, a cowboy poet, musician and MCPA co-founder from Louisburg, Mo., introduced the second group of performers. They included John Beltz, a rancher and cowboy poet from Willow Springs, Mo.; Francine Roark Robison, Oklahoma's Cowboy Poet Laureate from Tecumseh, Ok.; Harold Carpenter, an ever-popular cowboy poet, humorist and rope spinner from Sedan, Ks.; and Steven Spalding, cowboy preacher and cowboy and country gospel recording artist from Lebanon, Mo.

Neal Torrey, a writer, ventroquilist and cowboy poet from Bolivar, Mo., introduced Saturday night's final group of performers. They included Rhoda Foster, a new cowboy poet from Mountain View, Mo.; Royce Smithey, a talented guitarist, singer and songwriter from Bonham, Tx. (and the newest member of the MCPA); Gail Burton, a long-respected cowboy poet from Benton, Ark.; Harold and Wanda Williams, cowboy singers and musicians from Joplin, Mo.; working cowboy and poet Phil Rexwinkle, from Welch, Ok.; and Mike Butler, a cowboy performer from Neosho, Mo.

On Sunday morning, more than 70 MCPA members and spouses, and Mountain View residents, attended cowboy church services at the Community Center, with Reverend Steven Spalding delivering the message.

This was the 12th annual CPA gathering organized by Jennie Cummings, Director of the Mountain View Arts Council, and all MCPA members on hand paid special recognition to her efforts. The event is partially funded by the Missouri Arts Council, and supported by numerous Mountain View civic groups, volunteers and merchants.


April, 2010
Spokane Symphony Cowboy Show  Spokane, Washington

    report and photos by "Toe Tappin'" Tommy Tucker
photo of Tommy Tucker by Smoke Wade


Western Music & Poetry Hit Spokane!!!

Wylie & The Wild West and cowboy poet Paul Zarzyski performed in front of the Spokane Symphony Orchestra at the historic Fox Theater in Spokane, Washington on April 24, 2010. A near-capacity audience of 1500 tapped their toes and had good laughs as Wylie and Paul kept them thoroughly entertained for two hours of great music and poetry. And let's not forget the Symphony who under the direction of German born Conductor Eckart Preu, were absolutely superb!

The Symphony set the tone, opening with the “Magnificent Seven Suite,” “Hoe Down,” and an original “Winnetou,, written and arranged by Mr. Preu, which he explained was a western or cowboy piece “the German way.” Then Wylie & the Wild West and Paul took the stage with an outstanding blend of music and poetry. Wylie performed hits like “To Her,” “Cattle Call,” “Whoop Up Trail,” and a show-stopping rendition of “America the Beautiful.” To hear Wylie sing that song with a symphony, was just “awesome.” Paul Zarzyski performed poems, “Horses vs Hosses” (by S. Omar Barker) and his “Words Growing Wild” and “Black and Tan.” Wylie and Paul performed together on “Grace” and “Bucking Horse Moon,” closing the show with “Red River Valley” with audience participation.

Wylie Gustafson

The performance earned an encore and two standing ovations, with one highlight I should mention, “Rodeo to the Bone” by Wylie and Paul. Paul doing his “Rodeo to the Bone” dance, was hilarious. You could tell the symphony members enjoyed it by the smiles produced, especially from the violin section.

I had the pleasure to talk to several folks after the show and as one told me, “I wasn't aware of who Wylie was, but I sure know now! I've got to get some of his albums.” Several were unfamiliar with the Western genre, and cowboy poetry. But not anymore! Thanks to Wylie & the Wild West and Paul Zarzyski, Western music and cowboy poetry have gained many new fans.

[Find the symphony's show description here.]

April, 2010
22nd Annual St. Anthony Cowboy Poetry Gathering   St. Anthony, Idaho

  report and photos by Bobbie Hunter


What better way to kick off the 2010 Cowboy Poetry Week than to attend the St. Anthony Cowboy Poetry Gathering? The annual Cowboy Poets of Idaho (CPI) general membership meeting was incorporated into the gathering and an election of officers was held. In addition, awards to recognize outstanding performers were also presented during gathering.

The Sun Rider Award, a special tribute to recognize and encourage young members of CPI, was given to Jenny Anderson (Utah), and Brady S. Bowles (Idaho). The Silver Quill award was presented to Eunice Wellard (Idaho); the Golden Note award went to Dave Anderson (Utah); and the Hall of Fame award was presented to Vern Woodbury (Idaho). Although unable to attend St. Anthony gathering this year, a special Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Don Kennington (Utah).

Vern and Vernetta Woodbury (Vern won the Hall of Fame award)

Organizers of the event were: Layle Bagley; Harry Halkar; Richard Huntsman; Gordon Peterson; Cleve Rice; and Wes Robinson. Their combined effort brought about another in a long line of St. Anthony success stories.

Held in the Roxy Theater, day audiences enjoyed hourly sessions that featured new-comers as well as seasoned veterans.

Saddle Strings and friend (Brian Arnold, Brad Tye, Curt Argyle, Cindy Argyle, Laurie Morgan, Bud Brown)

Emcee for Friday night was Layle Bagley (along with help from some of his zany characters). Performing in the Friday night show were: STAMPEDE! (Steve and Terri Taylor (Utah), and the Fall River Boys (Rand Hillman and Mark Seeley (Idaho) as pre-show entertainment. Others performing Friday night were: Linda Merrill and KcKayle Hunting; Garde Bowman; Bad Water Cattle Co. (Gene and Sandy Jones); Bobbie Hunter; Rees Butikofer; Gordon Peterson; Bill Chiles (all from Idaho). Representing other states were: Laurie Tye, and Ken Wellard (both from Utah); Gary Ferguson (Montana); Susan Park, and Mike Hurwitz (both from Wyoming).

Ellie Corrigan at the piano, Gary Ferguson, Dave Anderson, Bill Chiles

Gordon Peterson acted as emcee for Saturday night. Performing on the Saturday night pre-show were: Allan and Corean Romriell (Idaho), and from Utah, Saddle Strings (Curt Argyle, Cindy Argyle, Brian Arnold, Bud Brown, and Laurie Morgan). Other performers were: Dave Tingey, Destiny Hunzeker, Sam Mattise, Ellie Corrigan, Wayne Nelson, Layle Bagley, and Colt Angell, all from Idaho. Utah's performers were: Dave and Jenny Anderson, Sam DeLeeuw, and Richard Lee Cody and Mary Kaye. Keven Inman came from Washington; Larry Gibson and Denise McRea represented Montana.

Also performing were: B. Barber, Betty Clark, Ben Clark, Arden Gailey, Bob Jackson, Tommie Patton, Connie Patton, Ken Phillips, Christine Riker, Don Shelman, Gordon Thomas, Loyd Warnick, Vern Woodbury, and selections from Eunice Wellard's poetry (all Idaho); and Jerry Bell from Wyoming.

The sound system was managed by Les Merrill. Les did a fine job and deserves a tip of the hat for his work.

Sam Mattise, CPI vice-president; and Gordon Peterson, CPI secretary/treasurer

An election of officers determined the following results: Bobbie Hunter, president; Sam Mattise, vice-president; Gordon Peterson remained as secretary/treasurer, a job which he has very capably managed for many years. New board members include Corean Romriell, and Dave Anderson.

The little town of St. Anthony showed enthusiastic support which spurred the poets and musicians to an incredibly stellar display of talent. Next year's gathering will be held at the same place, the Roxy Theater, on April 15 & 16, 2011. Mark it on your calendar and tie a string around your finger; you won't want to forget that date!


April, 2010
Annual Songs of the Cowboys  Cody, Wyoming

   report by Rex Rideout

I was working out some of this story on my way down from Meeteetse and then through Thermopolis. Right about where the deer meet the antelope, which then give them a high hoof and take over. Does a song come to mind? The buffalo? No, they're further south by Cheyenne.

It isn't required that a gathering to celebrate cowboy culture should be in such an inspiring place but it sure helps. I don't know just what it is about Cody that sets so well with me and leaves me feeling enriched after basking in the glow of so many cowboy singers and poets after a few days. Maybe its just something in the air. Its wafting over from Yellowstone I'll bet.

Leslie Keltner, the Runumuk Cowgirl, she's done it again. She and her friends in Cody pulled together three days of Songs of the Cowboys. Such an event is not new to Cody. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center hosted Cowboy Songs and Range Ballads for 25 years. Longer than the Arvada Center in Colorado, or Elko. Last year that came to an end. I know they have their reasons. It looked as if a long tradition was coming to an end but Leslie, her friends and the good folks in Cody picked it up and dusted it off to shine again in 2009. So now this is the second event to come from their efforts. It went off without a hitch.

Well nigh thirty performers all had a place to stay, their needs were taken care of and Whoop! let the show begin. There was a concert Friday evening at the Wynona Thompson Auditorium. This was followed on Saturday with a matinee as well as an evening concert also at the Wynona. Sunday morning there was Cowboy Gospel at the VFW Hall. In between there were visits to senior, assisted living and other centers in the town. There was a more scholarly session at the Park County Library through much of Saturday. The days would conclude with jam sessions at the Irma Hotel (thank you Mr. Darby).

I'll say it again, there is something about this place that welcomes a showcase of cowboy culture. It brings out the best in us. An example was Glenn Ohrlin, one of the Bunkhouse Corral performing Saturday evening, he had us all in stitches with his jokes. Then he played a rather complex Spanish piece on his guitar. How wonderful. I don't recall him ever playing anything like that. What happened here is as good as it gets. Leslie Keltner and Bob Lantis insist there will always be cowboy songs in Cody. Well this was the second event through their efforts. I believe them. And it is gaining momentum. There are already plans for next years event. I'm in. Keep your calendars open for April next year. You won't want to miss it. Songs of the Cowboys is alive and well in Cody!

  report by Gwen Petersen

Leslie Keltner (aka: Lulubelle) is keepin’ it cowboy. She pulled off another rootin’ tootin’ Songs of the Cowboys in Cody, Wyoming.  Cowboy pickers and cowboy poets from nine different states rolled into the historic western town.  Starting with registration and reception at Buffalo Bill’s former hangout—the Irma Hotel—the event swirled from welcome to wow in about three seconds. 

Held each April, Songs of the Cowboys reflects cowboy life—the art and practice of bringing meat to the nation’s tables, especially beef. 
Meat comes in many forms but only the beef industry has heroes on horseback. John Wayne didn’t ride off into the sunset on the back of an ostrich..... (read Gwen's ensuing poem here).


Ed. note: Performers included Glenn Ohrlin and the Bunkhouse, Jerry Brooks, the Yampa Valley Boys, Bill Chiles, Open Range, Rex Rideout, "V" the Gypsy Cowbelle, and others.


March, 2010
Sixth Annual Lee Earl Memorial Cowboy Gathering  Lewiston, Idaho

  report by Susan Parker

photos courtesy of Almeda Terry

and Smoke Wade

  and Mike Luque,


Western Wanderings in Lewiston, Idaho


I like to sit in corners observing the audience’s pulse as performers pick, sing, or recite. As a writer and poet, I am interested in what evokes emotions from an audience; what grabs their attention, or not, what type of material they respond to best. The Sixth Annual Lee Earl Memorial Scholarship Cowboy Gathering in Lewiston, Idaho provided another opportunity for people watching and learning while making new friends.


© 2010, Mike Luque,
High Strung Band


Perched hilltop overlooking a peaceful, meandering Snake River, the Lewiston Elks Lodge throbbed with electrifying energy as Stampede!, Horse Crazy, Hank Cramer, and The High Strung Band rocked the Main Stage.  The audience sang along to favorite Johnny Cash tunes as Shiloh Sharrard and Jim Aasen harmonized in perfect pitch. They wept to the sweetness in the songs performed by Kathy Criddle.


photos courtesy of Almeda Terry
Kathy Criddle (left), Terry Taylor of Stampede! (right)


At the other end of the building the Vendors Stage allowed artisans to enjoy the music and poetry as they displayed their wares to appreciative lookey-loos and buyers.  The room was filled with amazing artwork by Richard Jenkins, stunning silver jewelry by William Beck, handsome hand bags and accessories from B bar E, gorgeous custom guitars by Les McMasters, the phenomenal photography of Mike Luque, and exquisite bulls and broncs in bronze by John Geis.


photo courtesy of Almeda Terry
Merritt Bradshaw and Mike Luque


As one of the performing poets, the Vendors Stage provided a superb venue for testing my ability to focus. I found that if I concentrated on the two rows of audience directly in front of me I was able to effectively obliterate conversations taking place throughout the room. Smoke Wade, Entertainment Coordinator and a key organizer of the event, said it would be a testing ground for endurance.  It proved to be just that, but loads of fun and worth the challenge.


Other poets performing throughout the weekend included Bette Wolf Duncan, JB Barber, Cindy Worth, Van Criddle, Sam DeLeeuw, Duane Nelson, Jim Cardwell and others, all of whom delighted an enthusiastic audience.


photo © 2010, Mike Luque,
Sam Mattise


The lobby fire pit was ablaze with action. “Un-plugged” sessions with Beargrass, Joshua Crosby & Lonesome Dove, and father/daughter team David and Jenny Anderson, kept it knee-slapping lively.  The “Trainwreck” jam sessions were just that, a whooping and hollering grand time with musicians Rob Thran, Lonnie Shurtleff, Bodie Dominguez, and Sam Mattise plucking and singing everything from cowboy to blues. Other musicians joined in as well.

photo courtesy of Almeda Terry
Lauralee Northcott (Horse Crazy), Jennifer Epps (Horse Crazy), Almeda Terry, and Barbara Nelson



I also had the pleasure of sitting in on Toe Tappin’ Tommy Tucker’s Western Heritage show at KRLC 1350 AM Radio. Barbara Nelson, Susan Knight, Jessica Hedges, Almeda Terry and I were privileged to chat with him during our session, sharing poetry and song.  Ever the engaging host, Tommy brought out the best in us all.


photo © 2010, Mike Luque,
Susan Parker


This was my first visit to northwestern Idaho.  Nestled below stunning, undulating hills formed by falling ash and lava from volcanic eruptions over the eons, the Lewiston/Clarkston area is charming, particularly the older parts of town with their brick buildings and simple yet artistic facades.  I envisioned the Old West life street-side, in the rowdy saloons and bustling brothels.  Yet I was thrilled that my accommodations at the Clarkston Motel 6, sponsored by Jack and Blanche Tippett, were across the street from Starbucks.  The last two mornings in town I stealthily slipped out early for a vente soy latte and oatmeal with mixed tropical dried fruit and slivered almonds, nightgown tucked into Wranglers and hidden beneath my Carhartt jacket. 


photo courtesy of Smoke Wade
Dave Anderson and Donna Earl


The best part of the weekend for me was meeting new people. Donna Earl, daughter of the late Lee E. Earl, in her pink saloon-girl attire on Saturday night was a hoot, surprising even Smoke Wade. Virginia Earl, Mr. Earl’s widow, was most kind and generous, always right there when someone needed anything.  If she didn’t have it, she would find it.  The locals were most appreciative of the performers and expressed thanks for their participation. The friendly banter at the Station 3 Family Restaurant made me feel as if I had known these folks for a long time. When out to breakfast or strolling through the parking lot gathering my thoughts, everyone I chanced upon gave a friendly nod or a howdy, unlike in the city where they avoid your gaze as if they could contract the H1N1 flu with a look or a smile.


I am grateful for the opportunity to have met and chatted with excellent poets and musicians who I never see at other gatherings and festivals. The variety of talent and professionalism of the people in this business never ceases to amaze me.  The folks of the Pacific Northwest are no exception.  Not only are they multi-talented in many cases, they are down to earth, good, caring people, available to lend a helping hand whenever the need arises.  I find this to be true among most people I have met along this cowboy/western music and poetry trail. A good friend and I talk about someday taking off for a year and traveling to as many gatherings and festivals as we can manage. I am confident we would find this same sense of community wherever we traveled. 


While this was the last year for the Lee Earl Memorial Scholarship Cowboy Gathering, I am left with happy memories of the new folks I met, the tender, mouth-watering morsels of steak bites (a Lewiston thing), and lessons I’ve learned about this wide open country. I hope to visit Idaho one day again soon. 


March, 2010
First Annual Cowboy Poetry & Western Music Festival   West Jordan, Utah

  report by Richard Lee Cody (, photos by Alena Balmforth


The First Annual, West Jordan, Utah "Cowboy Poetry & Western Music Festival"

This brand new event was held on Saturday night March 12th at the Sugar Factory Playhouse in West Jordan, Utah. It's organizers, Alena Balmforth and the City of West Jordan, did a fine job for this first year's event.
The snowy stormy evening started off with the entertainers spending some time getting to meet and greet the folks as they came in from out of the snow. Some of the attendees had never been to a "cowboy" event and were a little skeptical of the evenings performance. After the show those same skeptics vowed to never miss another "cowboy gathering" and promised to return again and again and bring their friends.That's the power of this genre.

Sam DeLeeuw

The evening's headlining performance featured five of the finest acts around in a "round robin" format. Kicking it all off as MC for the night was the award-winning poetess, Sam Deleeuw, who, with her performance style and personality quickly set the mood for the night's performance. Jeff (JP) Carson wowed a mesmerized the crowd right off the bat with one of his self-penned poems and left crowd waiting in anticipation for another.

Mary Kaye and Richard Lee Cody

Next up to the mic were me (Richard Lee Cody) and the talented Mary Kaye. We performed five of our new songs off  our debut duet cd Way Out West throughout the evening, with the occasional standing "O." Slim McNaught of South Dakota did an amazing job weaving the stories of western life in and out of the stunned crowd. They never knew what hit 'em! The group Latigo featuring Ken Stevens, Ben Ashby, and Kevin Paul brought the crowd to their feet with their driving bass and up tempo brand of Western music. At this point the crowd was completely overwhelmed as Sam Deleeuw did what she does best, paying tribute to the women of the West through her hilarious and sometimes serious brand of cowboy poetry. And then.....round two began.


After the show it was plain to see on the faces of the audience members that their lives had been changed forever. We look forward to next years gathering and want to extend an invitation to all of you to join us in West Jordan, Utah for the 2nd Annual West Jordan Cowboy Poetry & Western Music Festival. For information on next year's gathering visit:



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



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