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(Some links may go out of date.)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


Page Two


13th Annual Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, Hot Springs, South Dakota, September

The NILE Stock Show, Pro Rodeo and Western Expo, Billings, Montana, October

Third Annual Six Rivers Western Festival, Fruitland, Idaho, October

On Page One

"Not JUST Cowboy Poetry" at Emandal near Willits, California, September

19th Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days, Valentine, Nebraska, September

Missouri Cowboy Poets meeting near Louisberg, Missouri, September

"This One's for the Cowboys," Martin, South Dakota, October

Heritage of the American West Performance Series, Spearfish, South Dakota, October

13th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, Montrose, Colorado, September  separate page


Find January-February reports here.
Find March-April reports here.
Find May-August 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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September, 2010
14th Annual Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering  Hot Springs, South Dakota

  report by Slim McNaught with photos by Bob Kisken



Wrangle up your mouth-harps, drag your banjo out,
     Tune your old guitarra till she twangs right stout,
For the snow is on the mountains and the wind is on the plain,
     But we'll cut the chimney's moanin' with a livelier refrain…”

                              from "
The Bunk-House Orchestra" by Charles Badger Clark, Jr.

Well, Badger, when the “Bunkhouse Tales” bunch got together, like you said, there sure were some lively refrains. You would have been proud of us. We are talking about MaryJo Grill’s “Bunkhouse Tales” get-together at the American Legion building on Friday night before the Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering, held in Hot Springs, South Dakota, on September 25, 2010. Some of the best entertainment in the country gave the crowd their money’s worth this night. Robert “Jinglebob” Dennis was nighthawk on this outfit and he had his job cut out for him, but he kept everybody circled up and doin’ their thing.

photo by Bob Kisken
Robert Dennis and Slim McNaught

First one up in the circle was Jarle Kvale, then Jinglebob turned ‘em loose on the crowd, with Kip Sorlie, followed by Slim McNaught, Jinglebob Dennis, Chuck Larsen, Gale Patzlaff, Pegie Quinn Douglas, Sybil Brown, Kerry Grombacher, George Russell, Chuck Schwartz, and Ed Nesselhuf. And then it started over, going a few more rounds before calling it a very successful night.

photos by Bob Kisken
Jarle Kvale, Kip Sorlie, Kerry Grombacher, Ed Nesselhuf

Saturday dawned a beautiful day, and things got started at 10 am with a Cowboy Poetry Work Shop hosted by Robert Dennis and Slim McNaught. Around 30 people showed up, and when you get that many writers corralled in one spot, the discussions get lively. It was advertised as a two hour session, but lasted over two and a half hours. When it was over, there were still small groups standing around, in continued discussion of some of the ideas presented. Seems like two hours are not enough time to discuss all the ideas that come up. But everyone went away with some new ideas.

The afternoon started at 2pm with an open mic session hosted by Gale Patzlaff that featured some excellent performers. Many of the performers from Friday night Bunkhouse Tales performed, as well as Bill Cheney and Ray Delgado. I’m sure I’m missing some names here, and for that I apologize.

photo by Bob Kisken
Andy Nelson


The show everyone had been waiting for started at 7 o’clock pm. The theme was, “A Cowboy Christmas”, with Andy Nelson up as the emcee. Andy is a second generation farrier and very talented entertainer, having many awards to his credit. He entertains across the U.S. and is much in demand as an emcee. Andy and his brother, Jim (also a farrier), co-host the Clear Out West “COW” Radio weekly syndicated radio show. Andy has released three CDs of his poetry and humor, and two books.

After Andy got the crowd warmed up, Robert “Jinglebob” Dennis took the stage. He has spent his life being a fourth generation rancher on the family ranch. Cowboy to the core, he is still feeding and fencing with a team and works his cows on horseback. He says he graduated Magna Cum Loudly from the School of Hard Knocks, with way too many horses, not enough cattle, and more than enough bills. He works at about anything that requires hard work and doesn’t pay worth a hoot. He also builds saddles, chaps and horse gear. Robert has been strummin’ his guitar for over 20 years, and sings old and new cowboy songs and writes and recites poetry. Invited to Elko, Nevada, three times, he is always in demand at poetry gatherings around the country. You can always count on top entertainment from this cowboy.

photo by Bob Kisken
Chuck Larsen

Then Andy turned Chuck Larsen loose on the audience. Chuck and his wife, Linda, run a string of horses and pack mules on their ranch near Saratoga, Wyoming. Chuck purty much does ‘er all, ranching, packin’ mules into the high country, ropin’ or wranglin’ dudes. He also announces a local rodeo. With quite an imagination, his poetry can make you roll with laughter or daub away sentimental tears. He did ‘er all in this great performance.

Andy introduced the last act of the evening, The Wagoneers, ranchers from southwest North Dakota. Members of this group are; Chuck Fossum, Junior McGee, Theresa McGee, Wayne Miller and Brent Voight. The group started at the Mystic Theatre in Marmarth, North Dakota. In 2002 the Prairie Rose Art Guild in Bowman, North Dakota sponsored The Wagoneers to do a recording of their music, which was a huge success, called “What We’ve Been Searching For.” All the members live on ranches, raising families, enjoying rodeos, and bringing folks some toe-tapping entertainment. What a great performance by this group.

This may have been the most successful Badger Clark gathering ever. Huge attendance, great performers, and the weather was perfect. Hot Springs, South Dakota is a natural for this kind of entertainment. Adequate lodging, beautiful scenery, fascinating area history, and friendly citizens that make you want to come back. It’s no wonder the National Trust for Historical Preservation in Washington, D.C., named Hot Springs as one of America’s “Dozen Distinctive Destinations.” And you can certainly see why American Cowboy magazine picked the Badger Clark Days as a Readers Choice Top 3 Poetry Event in America.

The Hot Springs Area Chamber of Commerce certainly deserves more than a little applause for presenting this gathering, and MaryJo Grill, the “gal who takes the heat” in putting it together, is right at the top of our salute. Makes you wonder if they can top this one next year. Stick around and find out.

For more information about this and other entertainment opportunities, contact the Hot Springs Area Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-325-6991, or


October, 2010
The NILE Stock Show, Pro Rodeo and Western Expo  Billings, Montana

report and photos by Almeda Terry


Despite a tornado taking the main Metra Arena out of commission, the 2010 NILE Stock Show, Pro Rodeo and Western Expo came off without a hitch. Even with all the various components of the week long event being shuffled around into different and fewer buildings, it was business as usual in Billings, MT. The unseasonably warm sunny weather was a huge blessing for everyone, especially for the vendors and the cattle shows who had to set up outside.

Carr Family Band and Almeda Terry (center)

Both the Western Expo stage and audience seating were scaled down this year to help make room for vendors, but the entertainment was just as big as last year's. The Carr Family Cowboy Band, nominated for the 2010 WMA Crescendo Award, returned from Nebraska and thoroughly satisfied the audience with their family fiddling and original cowboy songs. They also graced the stage during the Big Sky Cowboy Ministry's Cowboy Church service Friday night with their music expressing love for the Lord.
I had the pleasure of hosting the entertainment stage again this year and was able to welcome back the District 4 Old Time Fiddlers on stage each day as well as the Big Sky Cowboy Ministry each evening for Cowboy Church. Bluegrass bands HWY 302 and Cold Frosty Morning kept toes tapping and the Billings local Poet's Corner cowboy poets Norm Shay, Joe Charter, Joan Comly, Stacy Sue, Pat McCalister and Dave Joppa provided many good laughs and thoughtful moments of rhyme and meter.

Dale Page

New to the NILE and a highlight this year from Indiana was Dale Page, a Silver Buckle winner at the 2010 National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo. It was quickly evident why Dale came out on top at the NCPR as he moved the crowd from laughter to tears with his excellent poetry.

Steve N Stan

I was able to spend some time getting to know Dale over dinner together at the Bull Mountain Grille where we listened to Steve N Stan, a talented acoustic duo from Montana's Hi-line country. Steven Ray Hughes and Stan Wall, old musical friends of mine from when I lived up in Big Sandy, were also quite the crowd pleasers on the Expo stage during the day with their old-time country music, Steve's dry humor and Stan's great singing.

Billings Ceilidh Fiddlers

Billings' Celtic fiddle group The Ceilidh Fiddlers returned again to wow the crowd with their symphonic-quality ensemble. Led by Scottish fiddle master Janny Kirk, this group has produced three CDs and has toured world-wide. They reminded us of the deep roots western music has in the Celtic tradition of fiddle and folk music.

Ike Hall

Another treat this year and new to the NILE was Ike Hall. A multi-generational Blackfoot Indian rancher from along the eastern front of the Rockies, Ike's original songs are steeped in cowboy tradition and Indian legend. Ike and his music were featured in the 1989 movie War Party filmed near Montana's Blackfoot Indian Reservation.
Work is underway to rebuild the Metra Arena and the 2011 NILE Stock Show, Pro Rodeo and Western Expo will be back in its full size and swing next October 8-15. Plan to join us in 2011!!



October, 2010
Second Annual Six Rivers Western Festival, Fruitland, Idaho, October

report and photos by Bobbie Hunter

Six Rivers Western Festival

The 2010 Six Rivers Western Festival took place in Fruitland, Idaho, on October 15 and 16. In excess of thirty outstanding performers gathered from Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Utah, and Canada.

Emcee for the Friday night show was the highly-skilled
Sam Deleeuw (Utah). An award-winning poet herself, Sam was also an able taskmaster and kept the entertainment flowing smoothly through fourteen performers and a raffle.

Sam DeLeeuw

The Saturday night host was
Keven Inman (Washington). Keven is well known for his knowledge of the life and times of many classic cowboy poets and very capably managed his emcee duties. Much to the delight of the audiences, Sam Deleeuw and Keven also found themselves on stage, performing their art.

Sam Matisse

Don Shelman

Ted Hoffman

Performers from Idaho were:
Colleen Kohler; Allan and Korean Oriel; Bobbie Hunter; Tommy Patton; Bob and Marion Baird; Lyle Bagley; Gordon Peterson; Vern Woodbury; Dale Keys; Sam Mattise; Gene and Sandy Jones of Bad Water Cattle Company; Arden Gailey; Ted Hoffman; Wayne Nelson; Larry Shiflet; Mallory DeBartelo; Bruce Pinson; Don Shelman; "Lucky" Johnston and Bill Jenkins of Cherokee Moon.


Lonnie and Pat Shurtleff  and Terry and Steve Taylor

Representing Utah were:
David and Jenny Anderson; Steve and Terry Taylor of STAMPEDE!; and Ken Wellard.


BJ Smith

Lonnie Shurtleff, Oregon; and the well-received BJ Smith, Canada, also performed and added to the poetry, stories, and music shared around the camp fire.

In addition,
Diane Keaster and Connie Patton, both from Idaho, added to the enjoyment of the daytime crowd.

Poets and musicians gathered around a campfire to share their tales, recite their poems, and sing the songs of the Old West. With just a little effort, one could imagine themselves under the stars, sharing tales of fantasy and fact.

Saturday night focused on three poets; Layle Bagley, Gordon Peterson, and Vern Woodbury. These three gentlemen cowboys were inducted into the Six Rivers Western Festival Hall of Fame in recognition for and appreciation of their exceptional talent and years of service to Cowboy Poets of Idaho, Inc. Through their examples they have contributed to the popularity of this uniquely Western medium; because of them, countless others have learned the craft and grown to love the genre of cowboy poetry. We respectfully tip our hats to these exceptional men.

Just ten days after receiving his award, Gordon Peterson, who was currently serving as secretary/treasurer for Cowboy Poets of Idaho, passed on. He will leave an empty spot around the campfire.

The event was organized by Allan and Corean Romriel, and Bobbie Hunter. With the dust barely settled, plans are already being made for next year's gathering which will be held at the Olde School Community Center on the 14th and 15th of October, 2011. Hope to see you there!

Allan and Corean Romriell



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



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