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(Some links may go out of date.)

2011 Reports



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

16th Annual Echoes of the Trail Cowboy Gathering, Fort Scott, Kansas, June

Fourth Annual Tyrone Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, Tyrone, New Mexico, May

Tenth Annual Torrey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival, Torrey, Utah, May

1st Annual Foot of the Blues Cowboy Gathering, Pendleton, Oregon, May

25th Annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Medora, North Dakota, May

Page two:

Bodie Hills Ride with Dave Stamey, June



Find January-February reports here.
Find March-April reports here.
Find August-September reports here.

See reports from 2010 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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May, 2011
26th Annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Medora, North Dakota

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

25th Annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering

This report is late, but I tell you folks, it’s not my fault. The pictures in my hard drive found a hole in the fence and escaped into cyber space. After stumping the Geek Squad and some of my computer literate friends for a couple months, the picture herd finally came straggling home and I got ‘em rounded up and corralled back in my hard drive and we’re back in the saddle again.

Talk about a frog croaker, there is enough water in this Dakota/Montana/Wyoming country to ‘bout float the Ark again. Friday, May 27, 2011 on our way to Medora from New Underwood, South Dakota, we drove through warm quiet sunshine, showers with sun, high wind driving hard rain, and cool drizzle. But the country is really green, everything looks great. Land of infinite variety! The only way into Medora from the Interstate Highway is the east exit, the west exit into town being under water.

The 25th Annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering in historic Medora, North Dakota, got underway Saturday, May 28, 2011 with registration beginning at 9 a.m. Put on by Bill and JoAnn Lowman, this event is always a popular gathering. Besides some great entertainment there were three vendor booths in the hallway and a Photo Contest along with a special art exhibit of Bill Lowman’s work in the Roosevelt Room.

Pony Bill Engen, saddle maker for over 50 years, from north of Belfield, ND had some of his hand-carved and hand-stitched saddles on display. Although Bill is mostly retired, in that he no longer does production work, he still takes custom orders for three or four saddles a year, and does period work and consulting for Motion Picture and T.V. studios.

The Big Hat Society booth, very well presented by Lois Welsch and husband, George, had a great selection of the wide brimmed palm leafed hats. The Big Hat Society is a tribute to our western heritage. A grassroots, practical group with a love and passion for old western fashion, a revival of Big Hats and Bigger hearts!

Darlene McNaught manned the Slim’s Custom Leather booth from New Underwood, SD, displaying some of Slim’s hand tooled items and her “Leathers by Dar” line of wallets, Bible covers, photo albums, kids chink chaps and much more.

The Photo Contest in the Roosevelt Room was hosted by Kriss and Paula Enzi and Lyle Glass. Six categories were represented: Landscapes, Sunsets, Animals, Farm and Ranch, Wild Life, and General. First place in each category is as follows: Animals - “Love Ya” by Tom Johnson of Hankinson, ND; Farm and Ranch – “Going Home” by Tom Johnson of Hankinson, ND; Landscapes ( and Best of Show) – “Angry Sky” by Kriss Enzi of Beach, ND; Sunsets – “Holy Cow” by Tom Johnson of Hankinson, ND; General – “Rodeo Scene” by Lillie Tessier of Belfield, ND; and Wildlife – “Lift Off” by Kris Enzi of Beach, ND. Congratulations to all. Lyle Glass was unable to enter any of his excellent photography due to all his material stranded by the flood waters. Lyle wasn’t expecting to be able to get back to his home for another month or more.

Paula and Kriss Enzi hosting the photo contest

Also in the Roosevelt Room was the special art “reunion,” a sampling of pencil works by Artist Bill Lowman, rancher/cowboy from Sentinel Butte, ND. Featured were many of Bill’s works portraying a personal lifetime of his occupation. Bill grew up rough and reckless, the youngest of four on his parent’s ranch, which he and wife JoAnn, son and daughter-in-law, Lusk and Dawn now operate. Bill enrolled for a two year term to study art at the Art Institute of Miami, Florida in the late sixties. Returning home to ranch and rodeo on weekends, he developed a fine art business from the kitchen table, where over half of his works were done on commission. Bill has over three hundred originals in private collections across the United States and in Hong Kong and Sweden as well as gracing the cover of the North Dakota Stockman’s Magazine twice. Lowman is also a veteran Cowboy Poet, founder/director of this very Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering now in its twenty fifth year. He has published five books of his literary works, each accompanied by a version of his visual art.

A Good Crowd

The first round of Saturday’s performers started at 1 p.m. with emcee, Slim McNaught, introducing Patti Burian Ingman, of Killdeer, ND. Following Patti were Bonnie Lee of Bismarck, ND; Orv Alveshere of Fargo, ND; Ila Mae Prestangen of Watford City, ND; Ron Crowley of Hazen, ND; Jarle Kvale of Dunseith, ND; Pony Bill Engen of Belfield, ND; Jo Lee T Riley from Oregon; Dean Johnson of Beach, ND; Susan Wright of Cedaredge, CO; Polly VanderVorst of Akaska, SD.

After a break where we all got in a lot of visiting, the second session started at 2:45 p.m. with Vic Mord of Birchdale, MN doing the honors as emcee. First up was Glenda Kreiman of Lindsey, MT followed by Ann Secrest Hanson of Bowman, ND; Terry Schwartz and Linda Tesky of Jamestown, ND; Robert Dennis of Red Owl, SD; Dale Nystrom of New Rockford, ND; Rhonda Stearns of Newcastle, WY; The Hegland Family Singers of Hettinger, ND; Dan Murphy of Baker, MT; Sandie Nystrom of New Rockford, ND; Bill Stearns of Newcastle, WY, and Elizabeth Ebert of Thunder Hawk, SD.

During this second session, Bill Lowman was awarded a plaque for his 25th year as Founder/Director of the Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering here in Medora. He was also presented with a portrait of him, drawn by McKenzie Wellard, a granddaughter of JoAnn’s brother. The awards were presented by Paula Harkins. Bill was very adamant that JoAnn get an equal share of the accolades, as she has been by his side through it all.

JoAnn Lowman, Bill Lowman holding his award; McKenzie Wellard with pencil drawing she made of Bill

The Saturday night performance drew a large crowd and included performers emcee Bill Lowman of Sentinel Butte, ND; Pat Meade of Milo, IA; Bob Petermann of Wibaux, MT; Slim McNaught of New Underwood, SD; Jody Strand of Baker, MT; The Radio Stars, Merrill Piepkorn and Loy Larson of Fargo, ND; and DW Groethe of Bainville, MT. A lot of good comments were heard after the show.

Rhonda and Will Stearns of Newcastle, WY presented the Cowboy Gospel Singing (The Charlie Hunt Memorial) from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sunday morning. This is always a very popular part of the gathering.

The Sunday afternoon session started at 1 p.m. and was emceed by DW Groethe of Bainville, MT. He introduced Patti Burian Ingman of Killdeer, ND followed by Ann Secrest Hanson of Bowman, ND; Jarle Kvale of Dunseith, ND; Terry Schwartz and Linda Tesky of Jamestown, ND; Jim Lowman of Fairfield, ND; Polly VanderVorst of Akaska, SD; Ron Crowley of Hazen, ND; Dean Johnson of Beach, ND; Jo Lee T Riley of Oregon, and Brent Voigt of Rhame, ND.

Brent Voigt takin' a turn as sound engineer

During this Sunday session, Paula Harkins presented JoAnn Lowman with an award for her part in these twenty five years of putting on the Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

After a break filled with the buzz of conversations and laughter, the second session got underway at 2:30 p.m. Emcee Slim McNaught began the session by presenting The Hegland Family Singers: Jim Hegland of Tioga, ND; Carole Rosencrans of Hettinger, ND; Janice Hanson of McGregor, ND; and Alice Anderson of Tioga, ND. Following their performance was Sandie Nystrom of New Rockford, ND; Elizabeth Ebert of Thunder Hawk, SD; Pat Meade of Milo, IA; Dale Nystrom of New Rockford, ND; Glenda Kreiman of Lindsey, MT; Bob Petermann of Wibaux, MT; Dan Murphy of Baker, MT; Jess Howard of Wibaux, MT; Chris Sand of Killdeer, ND.

The Sunday night performance, emceed by Paula Harkins of Billings, MT featured the Wagoneers of Rhame, ND; Chuck Fossum, Junior McGee, Theresa McGee, Wayne Miller, and Brent Voigt. They were followed by Jess Howard of Wibaux, MT; Yvonne Hollenbeck of Clearfield, SD; Fran Armstrong of Medora, ND; Audrey Wipperling of Baker, MT; Larson Brothers Lowell and Paul of Taylor, ND; and Paula Harkins.

The performer’s table in the lobby was busy both days, with a good crowd picking up books and CDs displayed there by the entertainers. This whole event is such a success because of the hours of work put in by the gathering staff: Bill Lowman, JoAnn Lowman, Lyle Glass, Sheila Marie, Helen Ostby, Dawn Lowman, Paula Harkins, and Merrill Piepkorn. Our hats go off to these folks for a very successful gathering.

The good-byes were abundant, with hugs, hand shakes, tears and laughter
and more rain. It’s what makes us all look forward to “do’in it again” next year, Lord willin’ (and the creek don’t rise TOO high!).



July, 2011
Heritage of the American West Performance Series
Spearfish, South Dakota

  report and photos by Francie Ganje


“Ridin’ for the Brand”
Entertainers match talent, experiences to poetry and  music for a stand out performance

n some ways, it’s an unusual pairing: cowboy poet Ken Cook and singer/songwriter Paul Harris. On the surface, the contemporary mixed with the conservative, might be enough to make a person wonder. It for sure grabs enough attention to make a person listen.

Paul Harris and Ken Cook

And then you understand. It’s a sound that makes rooms for the differences—respects them evenwhile letting individual talent shine through.

They are the same, these two….only different.
That describes a certain cowboy ethic. And it’s put to words and  music masterfully in the duo production of original works (with an occasional cover vignette thrown  in)  in poetry,  lyrics and melody by Ken Cook and Paul Harris.
“Along with the set selection, timing is everything in a show such as this,” says Heritage of the American West Performance Series producer Francie Ganje, “especially so in this performance which isn’t a comedy. With humor, you  have a little more room. This particular set selection of music and poetry (a mix of  cowboy  life with a little whimsy) was going to sink or swim based solely on  content and delivery. It soared.”

The symmetry between the two makes it hard to know where a song begins and a poem ends. Larger works are mixed with brief melodies that take the listener effortlessly through a performance that while original in content, feels like an old friend.

For all walks of life, the message in this performance is universal; hard work, honor, winning, losing all matter. But at the end of the day, it's faith, self, family and friends (of the two- and fou-r legged kind) that make us who we are.  “The audience was captured by the performance,” notes Ganje. “I could look out and see the mix of rural and city; show goers from Texas to Massachusetts, California to Kansas, Arizona to North Dakota, and I knew they ‘got it.’ It’s one of the finest examples of how a successful production of western entertainment will enthrall a diverse audience, not bore them or make them feel left out.”
Both Harris and Cook have been developing new material throughout the winter. With Paul in Arkansas and Ken in South Dakota, blending their work gave them something to look forward to through the long winter months. “Producing is not an easy task,” observes Ganje, “even for the most seasoned performers.  They came on  stage and from start to finish, it flowed like a dream. The story in poetry and song was colorful, heart breaking, hopeful, matter-of-fact. Just what you’d expect of cowboying.” She adds, “Comparatively, strong instrumentals and vocals from Paul holds their own with Ken’s poetry that speaks to the deep-seated emotions of family and ranching. It just works.”

She adds,  “Ken and Paul together remind me of the quote, 'The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.' I can’t say as I’ve ever fully understood Aristotle’s words.  But I think these two are  as close as I’ll  get.”

The pre-show exhibit and reception for the performance of "Ridin' for the Brand" hosted members and memorabilia from the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association that implemented the brand in Dakota Territory and administered it for over a century. Brand laws date back to 1862.

Chronology of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association.

South Dakota Stockgrowers Vice President Shane Kolb, Executive Director Margaret Nachtigall and long-time former Chief Brand Inspector Jim Reed.


Image of sculpture of Oakley Lamphere, among the founders of the High Plains Western Heritage Center and a longtime member of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association


Paul Harris with son Caleb and Ken Cook just before the show

Visiting before the show, Slim McNaught, Robert "Jingle Bob" Dennis, and Ken Cook


[See our feature about the Heritage of the American West here.]

Posted 8/3

June, 2011
15th Annual Echoes of the Trail Cowboy Gathering Fort Scott, Kansas

report by Jerry Schleicher; photos by Judy Howser

Echoes of the Trail Celebrates 15 Years in Style

With cowboy music legend Don Edwards at the top of the bill, there was no question that the 15th annual Echoes of the Trail Cowboy Gathering was destined to be the biggest and best cowboy entertainment event Fort Scott, Kansas, had ever seen.

Don Edwards with Johnny Kendrick

Held June 10-12, 2011, at the Fort Scott Community College, this year's celebration featured more than a dozen of the region's top cowboy musicians, poets and humorists. Exhibitors displayed an eye-opening array of horse tack, western jewelry and apparel, decorative items, books, CDs and DVDs, even handmade soaps and homespun yarns.

Buck Rowland's display

The show kicked off Friday night with a featured performance by Kansas humorist and musician Geff Dawson. Opening for him were Colorado cowboy singer/songwriter Barry Ward, Missouri cowboy and country gospel recording artist Steven Spalding, Oklahoma reciter and poet Ken Lorton, and Oklahoma singer and guitarist Joe Lester.

All day Saturday, fans had the opportunity to enjoy performances on two different stages. Performers included Steven Spalding; Barry Ward, Joe Lester; Ken Lorton; Kansas humorist and poet Harold Carpenter; cowboy musicians Richard Dunlap and D.J. Fry; singer and guitarist Abe Reddekopp from Kansas City; musician and poet Cliff Sexton from Uniontown, Kansas; Royce Smithey, a popular cowboy musician from Bonham, Texas; and Jerry Schleicher, a poet and country humorist from Parkville, Missouri.

Noon found many of the performers and fans lining up for an authentic chuckwagon meal of beef stew, fire-baked biscuits and cobblers. Chuckwagon cook Kenny Gorden supplied the chuckwagon, and he, along with wainwright and cook Dennis and Donna Williams and Louise and Jimmy Campbell, made sure that no one left hungry. Inside the college, Buck Rowland of Chili Diablo also served southwestern chow to eager fans.

Judy Johnston shining Del Shields' boot

Steven Spalding and Jerry Schleicher led a cowboy song and poetry writing workshop on Saturday afternoon, and six local students from Eugene Ware Elementary came on stage to read their prize-winning cowboy poetry. They were followed by a performance by Del Shields, a cowboy singer and recording artist from Humboldt, Kansas, who's been featured on RFD-TV's Best of America by Horseback. Then the mic was opened to participants who recited popular cowboy poems and presented original material.

The afternoon concluded with silent auction bidders purchasing great donated items such as David Yates’ hand made silver Echoes of the Trail 2011 belt buckle and much more, donated by steering committee members, local businesses, and the event’s vendors and performers.

An enthusiastic crowd filled the college's Danny and Willa Ellis Fine Arts Center Saturday night as Echoes co-founder Johnny Kendrick and his sons, Jackson and Sam, opened for Don Edwards. Johnny, who wrote and performed the popular "Echoes of the Trail" theme song, was joined on stage by Echoes co-founder Arnold Schofield, a retired Park Service historian and Director of the Mine Creek State Historic Site.

At the end of Don's show, he called Johnny and his sons
 up on the stage to sing "This Land is Your Land" with him.

Don Edwards, widely recognized as "America's Cowboy Balladeer," kept the audience clapping and hollering for more as he delivered a spellbinding 90-minute show of cowboy ballads, yodeling and authentic old West songs. His performance was truly the cream in the coffee.

Sunday morning dawned windy and rainy, forcing the planned chuckwagon breakfast of flapjacks and sausage to be cancelled, and moving Cowboy Church inside the college. Rev. Steven Spalding led Cowboy Church services, with inspirational songs and poetry presented by Joe Lester, Royce Smithey, Richard Dunlap, D.J. Fry and Harold Carpenter.

Many thanks go to Judy Howser, lead organizer of the annual Echoes of the Trail Cowboy Gathering. The event is hosted each year by the Fort Scott Community College, and supported by a host of willing volunteers. The Bourbon County Arts Council and many local businesses and individuals also support the event, including Country Cupboard, Lyons Twin Mansions, Heritage Inn, Woods Super Market, and others.

See our feature about Echoes of the Trail here.

May, 2011
Fourth Annual Tyrone Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering Tyrone, New Mexico

  report and photos by Pete Kennedy

below:  additional report and photos by Totsie Slover

The Fourth Annual Tyrone Cowboy Poetry And Music Gathering was held on May 6, 7 & 8, 2011, at the Tyrone Community Center in Tyrone, New Mexico. This was a fundraising event to benefit the Community Playground Fund.

This year's Gathering was another huge success and attracted performers and guests from all over New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. On Friday, May 6, groups of poets and musicians visited local schools and senior citizen facilities to entertain students and residents. Performers and volunteers then gathered at Pete and Dianne Kennedy's home in Tyrone for dinner and a jam session.

Pete Kennedy

On Saturday morning, the Viet Nam Veterans Color Guard opened the show by posting the colors. Then the audience joined emcee, Dianne Kennedy, in the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of "God Bless America."

Sheriff Jim Wilson with Washtub Jerry and Jim Jones

For the rest of the day, top cowboy poets, singers and musicians performed before a very appreciative crowd of about 150 enthusiastic fans. Performers included: The Copper Creek Wranglers, Bud Strom, Lynn Stokes, Eddy Harrison, Jim Wilson, "Hook" Hill, Pete Kennedy, Jim Jones, Jon Messenger, Doug Figgs, Washtub Jerry, and Mike Moutoux.

Hook Hill, Poet & Storyteller

The ticketed show on Saturday evening attracted about 120 fans. At intermission, the drawing was held for the autographed Fender guitar and the original Bill Bolton oil painting.

For the Grand Finale, all performers took the stage and the audience joined in to sing Jim Jones' hit song, "Long May You Ride". Many of the performers and guests commented that this was by far the best Cowboy Gathering in New Mexico and they hope to be back next year.

Jim Jones with Washtub Jerry


  report and photos by Totsie Slover

above:  additional report and photos by Pete Kennedy

May 7, 2011 found us on the road north to Tyrone for their annual Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering. We arrived just in time for the last song from the Copper Creek Wranglers. I’m sorry we didn’t hear more…they were very well received by the audience!

Bud Strom

We did, however, hear great cowboy poetry throughout the day from Bud Strom, Lynn Stokes, Pete Kennedy, Hook Hill and Mike Moutoux.

Mike Moutoux

Along with the talented poets were equally talented western singers and musicians! We were privileged to hear Jim Jones, Jim Wilson, Eddy Harrison, Jon Messenger, Washtub Jerry, Doug Figgs, Mike Moutoux and The Copper Creek Wranglers Cowboy Band.

Eddy Harrison

I had not heard Doug Figgs before so that was fun. He’s a really good singer that filled in at the last minute for one who could not appear. He did a great job with very short notice.

Doug Figgs

The entire day was fun! I look forward to next year. If you are close and have never been to the Tyrone Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering you’re missing a lot of good entertainment and fun. Make plans to attend next year!


This report is also available here at Totsie Slover's blog.

May, 2011
10th Annual Torrey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival Torrey, Utah

  report by Jane Morton and Dick Morton


Torrey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival
 May 27-28, 2011

The community of Torrey, Utah in Wayne County spent Memorial Day weekend listening to the Entrada Institute’s 10th Annual Poetry and Music Festival. The audience was almost literally as well as figuratively blown away by the talent and the wind which started to blow about the same time the program commenced. The audience sat in a grassy grove of trees, which shaded the audience as they watched the performance, as the sun set on the beautiful rock formations in the background.

This small town, population 141, and surrounding community put on a two-day outstanding program using both local talent and some who drove to share their talents. The audience heard stories, poems, recitations and western music.

Friday’s program included:

Rough Around the Edges, a local musical group of 9 to 10 friends;
Ray Conrad, a local poet sharing poems of Wayne County;
Paul Boruff, a musician, painter, sharing music and poems dating back to the 1830’s;
Dick Morton, reciting his favorite cowboy classics;
Jane Morton, sharing poems from her two books;
and the final program was headlined by well known
Brenn Hill with Blue Sage (Mike Iverson)

Saturday’s program included:

The Vapor Trail Hands, a local group performing Celtic and cowboy songs;
Tangle Ridge, a bluegrass/traditional acoustic band of local and other talent;
Nan Weber, with selections from her new book with stories of Yellowstone Chip;
Mary Kay Knaphus & The Duel, with music and song;
Katy Creek Band, from Maricopa County Arizona, who delighted the audience;
Student poet
Amber Cook and Senior Entry Darlene A. Lambert;
Cameron Hallows, a real cowboy poet from Wayne County;
and the final event of the Torrey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival was performed by
Blue Sage Band, a long-time Wayne County favorite.




May, 2011
1st Annual Foot of the Blues Cowboy Gathering  Pendleton, Oregon

report by Kathy Camden

1st Annual Foot of the Blues Cowboy Gathering
May 20-21, 2011

The weather was exceptional for the cowboys and cowgirls who gathered in Pendleton, OR. and they sang and did poetry all around the town. to the delight of the folks.

"Coyote" Joe Sartin is the driving force behind this one. Pendleton, Oregon, always gives me the feeling that I am riding into town to see one of the famous cowgirl bareback riders of yesteryear. This town at the foot of Blues dates back more than 100 years and that many rodeos.

But today it is the start of a new type of cowboy and cowgirl: they are poets and western musicians and they come in cars and pickup trucks to perform and delight the audience who is new to this kind of performer.

This first year kicked off with the performers all around town: Howard Norskog, Wayne Nelson, Duane Nelson, Dallas and PJ McCord, Barbara Nelson, Lonnie Shurtleff, Jessica Hedges, Sam Mattise, Keeter Stuart, J.B. Barber, Erica, and last but not at all least, Mary Kaye. And, I can't forget the back-up guitar for all the musicians, Little Joe.

The Friday night show was super. The performers had put their best feet forward. Saturday shows again were all around the town and the Saturday night show was one of the best ever.

We will be looking forward to seeing you all there for next year's show. For information about next year's show go to






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



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