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(Some links may go out of date.)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


14th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, Kanab, Utah, August 
separate page

1st Annual Sawtooth/Salmon River Cowboy Poetry And Music Festival, Salmon, Idaho, August

27th Annual Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering Lewistown, Montana, August

17th Annual Devils Tower Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Devils Tower National Park, Wyoming, September

14th Annual Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, Hot Springs, South Dakota, September

Cowboy Poetry Gathering at ArenaFest, Dublin, Texas, October

20th Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days Valentine, Nebraska, October

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

Martin South Dakota Centennial Finale, Martin, South Dakota, November

4th Annual Diamond Field Jack Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Rupert, Idaho, November

Find January-February reports here.
Find March-April reports here.
Find May-June-July 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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Back on home . . .


September 2011
14th Annual Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering  Hot Springs, South Dakota

report by Slim McNaught; photos by Trixie Grill


14th Annual Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering
September 24, 2011


Wonder why I feel so restless;
Moon is shinin' still and bright,
Cattle all is restin' easy,
But I just kain't sleep tonight.
Ain't no cactus in my blankets,
Don't know why they feel so hard—
'Lesst it's Warblin' Jim a-singin'
"Annie Laurie" out on guard…
     from Badger Clark's "A Bad Half Hour"

Ahhhh, Badger, what a word picture you paint! Makes me feel like I’m right there listenin’ to ol’ Warblin’ Jim. And here we are, at Woolly’s Western Grill on the Truck Bypass in Hot Springs, South Dakota, on September 23, 2011, for another “Bunkhouse Tales” gathering, to try our hand at painting some verbal pictures with our songs and poetry. If you were here you’d sure be grinnin’ at some of the stuff we come up with.

But we had a great time, lots of fun, good food, great audience, and a bunch of performers whose names I didn’t get written down, but they wrangled that audience through a whole range of emotions. It was getting kind of late when we pulled the plug and headed for our bedrolls, looking forward to tomorrow and a great day of entertainment.

So went the kick off for the 14th Annual Badger Clark Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering, held in Hot Springs, South Dakota at the Mueller Center at 801 South 6th Street. Beautiful weather, great scenery, great shopping, plenty of accommodations, some of the richest history in the country…that was the setting for this gathering held September 24, 2011.

Saturday morning started with a workshop hosted by Robert “Jinglebob” Dennis and Slim McNaught. A variety of subjects were discussed and the folks involved came up with some great ideas and thoughts. These workshops have become very popular, so many ideas to absorb, and everyone gets some great helpful hints from them.

Afternoon found everyone headed to the open mic session at the Mueller Center. It started at 2pm with a wide range of talent that you would be hard pressed to match anywhere. There were poets, singers, and story tellers that kept the audience entertained and wanting more.

The main event started at 7pm in the Mueller Center Theatre and featured Pake McEntire and Stephanie Ann. When Pake was very young he would sing with his sisters, Alice, Reba and Susie. Their mother, Jac, would keep them singing four part harmony while traveling down the road to rodeos. Harmony came naturally to the McEntire kids. Pake played in the Kiwoa Cowboy School Band in high school and in 1970, Pake and sisters, Reba and Susie, went to Oklahoma City and recorded their first record, “The Ballad of John McEntire.” After high school, Pake ran steers and roped in a bunch of rodeos. He recorded his first album The Rodeo Man in 1980. Another cassette followed with sister, Susie, in 1983. In 1985 Pake recorded two albums on RCA, Too Old To Grow Up Now and My Whole World. A fourth CD, And They Danced, came in 2003. Today, Pake’s singing and fiddle playing tours consist of traditional country sounds with lots of easy to understand country music.

Stephanie Ann is an up-and-coming country artist who has been working her way from the bottom up. Moving to the top through promotion and doing as many shows as she possibly can while still making a living doing what she loves to do. Two years ago, she started singing professionally as part of the Pake McEntire Show, doing mostly harmony with a few lead parts. That quickly became a harmony gig on Pake’s newest album, The Other Side of Me, and now incorporates her as a lead female vocalist and duet partner. In 2008 she performed in 52 country music shows scattered across seven states. She feels very fortunate to have such wonderful audiences that are full of enthusiasm for their show.

Master of Ceremonies, Robert “Jinglebob” Dennis is a lifelong rancher/cowboy. He is the fourth generation on the family ranch at Red Owl, South Dakota, with his lovely wife, Cindy. They have three sons and two daughter-in-laws, four grandsons and another on the way. Robert says he “has too many horses, not enough cattle and more than enough bills, but I am a rich man when you consider what really counts in life.” Robert graduated Magna Cum Loudly from the school of hard knocks. He worked at about anything that requires hard work and doesn’t pay worth a hoot. In his spare time, when the ranch allows it, he still works with leather, building chaps, saddles and related horse gear. He can make almost anything but money! Robert has been playing guitar, writing songs and poetry (which he recites). He was invited to perform at the Elko, Nevada, gathering three different years and has performed at many poetry gatherings around the country. He has been writing down stories he has collected over the years. Darrell Arnold has published many of them in Cowboy Magazine. These have been put into a book along with some of his newer poems and are available from the author. Robert emulates the old timers and the way they got their work done...such as working cattle on horseback and using teams to feed and fence, etc.

Ken Cook spends his days ranching and writing in South Dakota. He has gathered cattle out of tough country, saddled up on many a dark morning, and been run over by an embarrassing number of mama cows. The Cook crew, Ken and Nancy and their four ranch-raised cowhands, worked and played side by side through diapers to adulthood. Nancy is pretty sure Ken will never grow up! Now, Ken’s sharing his poetry on stages across the West. He’s been privileged to entertain folks in several states, invited to perform at regional gatherings in Colorado, Nebraska, and North Dakota. He has appeared at the Badger Clark and Western Heritage Centers in South Dakota, and was a featured performer at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. Ken’s poetry has been featured in IM Cowgirl, Open Range and Rope Burns magazines. It is played on radio stations across the West, including Joe Baker’s Backforty Bunkhouse, Jim and Andy Nelson’s Clear Out West, and Totsie Slover’s Real West from the Old West. His is an authentic voice, bringing a deep respect of past generations to cowboy poetry. Ken’s serious poetry earned him a silver buckle. Smoke Wade, NPR emcee and poet stands firm in his belief that “Ken Cook is a real working cowboy who writes real working cowboy poetry. Cook has helped bring cowboy poetry back to its roots: poems of the cowboy written by the cowboy.” In June 2009, Ken was named Lariat Laureate in a global competition at, a project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. His work is featured on four BAR-D Roundup compilation albums produced by the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. His poetry has also been written about and featured online at the prestigious Poetry Foundation. Ken has recorded three spoken-word CDs: Dad We’ll Rope Today, I’m Gona Be a Cowboy, and his latest, Cowboys Are Like That, which is receiving grand reviews and radio airplay around the world,” says Joe Baker, AWA disc jockey of the year. “Ken is the real deal cowboy poet.”

In 1954 Slim McNaught married Darlene Brodkorb and they purchased the Buzzard Basin Ranch. They were blessed with a daughter and three sons. After several years, they sold the ranch and started “Slim’s Custom Leather,” a saddle and boot repair shop and hand-tooled leather business. They have operated the business for nearly 40 years starting in Kadoka, SD, and later moving to New Underwood, SD. Sometime during high school, Slim started writing poetry. Over the years, he has had poems, stories, and articles published in various anthologies plus many cowboy, horse, and griculture magazines and newspapers. Currently, his page on shows several poems published, plus some gathering reports at other locations on that site. In the past, he also published a monthly column, “The Saddle Rack,” on his website and some other locations. In 2005, Slim started his own publishing company, adding it to their leather business. Since 1981, he has published five books. Four are cowboy poetry and short western humor stories, and one book contains some of Slim’s original works and some of his mother’s original poetry. In March of 2006, Slim published his first CD, A Life of Rhyme, and his second CD, Reminiscin, was selected as the 2009 Cowboy CD/Album of the year by the Academy of Western Artists. Slim feels he has been blessed in living and working in ranch country and dealing with horse and cow people all his life. This carries over into his cowboy poetry. Slim and Darlene have four children, seven grandchildren, and (at last count) ten great-grandchildren.

Bernice Landers is a local poet who ranches with her four children near Hot Springs, SD. The ranch has been in the Landers family for 127 years and Bernice puts her everyday ranch work to rhyme, with stories about the life and times on a working ranch. Bernice says, “Ranching is a lifestyle I thoroughly enjoy.” She is active with the Cattlewomen Organization, the Westerners International, the Seekers, and the Catholic Church. She started writing poetry about fifteen years ago. She looks forward to the Badger Clark Gathering in Hot Springs each September, where she is a regular participant.

Well, the fun part is over and now the goodbyes will take a couple hours to wind down and get everyone to their bunks. This event just gets better every year, and the passion MaryJo Grill puts into the organization of this venue sure shows. With this kind of organization and leadership, next year promises to be a barn burner.

For information on the Badger Clark Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering, contact MaryJo Grill at, and for more information about this and other entertainment opportunities, contact the Hot Springs Area Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-325-6991, or,




November, 2011
4th Annual Diamond Field Jack Cowboy Poetry Gathering Rupert, Idaho

  report by Sam Mattise

photos by Bobbie Hunter


Diamond Field Jack Cowboy Gathering, Rupert Idaho
November 11-13, 2011

On the second weekend in November, the small central Idaho town of Rupert was filled with some of the best western poetry and music talent in the country. These performers came from across the country with Steve Porter coming all the way from South Carolina. The event was hosted by The Cowboy Poets of Idaho and was held in the historic Wilson Theater to benefit its renovation.

The event started on Friday afternoon with day shows being held on two stages which gave everyone the opportunity to perform. The Friday night show began at 6:30 with a pre-show by the great band Saddle Strings. The Friday Night show had two emcees in Wayne Nelson and Sam Mattise. They hosted the talents of Bob and Marion Baird, Tom Patton, Bruce Pinson, Arden Gailey, Destiny Hunzeker, Al and Corine Romriell, Don Shelman, Layle Bagley, Christine Riker and concluded with the music of The Fall River Boys.

Layle Bagley and Don Shelman

The hourly day shows on Saturday began at 11am on two stages. At 3pm, the Tall Tales Contest, with event boss Bruce Pinson, began with 10 people telling their “true” stories. The contest was won by Robin Arnold. At 5pm, the Cowboy Poets of Idaho Educational Auction was held, with auctioneer Sam Mattise.

Robin Arnold and Arden Gailey

The Saturday night performance had Layle Bagley and Sam DeLeeuw as the emcees. They hosted the talents of Gene and Sandy Jones, J.B. Barber, Robin Arnold, Ken Wellard, Bobbie Hunter, Steve Porter, Sam DeLeeuw, Dave Anderson, Vern Woodbury and concluded with the music of Saddle Strings.

Gene and Sandy Jones

Late night music jams, Friday and Saturday nights, were hosted by Sandy and Earl White and went well into the early morning. Everyone had a great time and we all look forward to next year.


November, 2011
Martin South Dakota Centennial Finale  Martin, South Dakota

  report by Ken Cook, photos by Tim Huether, Bennett County Booster and Nancy Cook


Martin South Dakota Centennial Finale
November 27, 2011

 Cowboy poetry and music lit up the Martin South Dakota Centennial Finale Sunday afternoon, November 27th, as the little town bid farewell to one hundred years of great memories and good living in ranch country. The folks in Martin filled the seats up early to hear working cowboys share some of their favorite music and poetry.

photo by Tim Huether, Bennett County Booster
Ken Cook, Paul Larson, Marty Blocker, and Robert.Dennis

Paul Larson rode in from Hill City, South Dakota and unleashed his big baritone voice on some of his favorite songs, much to the delight of young and old alike.

Robert Dennis swears Red Owl, SD is his home, but after sharing his original songs and poetry, including one new song created with Ken Cook, the Martin faithful were ready to adopt him!

photo by Tim Huether, Bennett County Booster
Paul Larson, Robert Dennis, Ken Cook, and Marty Blocker

It's hard to pull Marty Blocker out of the Sandhills of Nebraska, but a chance to recite poetry with a few working cowboys for people who make their living farming and ranching was too hard to resist. Folks in Martin sure did enjoy his work.

photo by Nancy Cook
Robert Dennis and  Marty Blocker

Ken Cook took his turn reciting some favorite Christmas poems and even a couple new poems for the hometown crowd.

photo by Nancy Cook
Shyanne Adrienne represents the newest generation

So here's to Martin, South Dakota and the next one hundred years. May those years be filled with cowboys, poetry, and just enough money to stay in the ranching business!


October, 2011
The NILE Stock Show, Pro Rodeo and Western Expo Entertainment Stage  Billings, Montana

report by Slim McNaught; photos by Bob Kisken and Almeda Bradshaw



The NILE Stock Show, Pro Rodeo and Western Expo Entertainment Stage
Billings, Montana, October 19 - 22, 2011

For a first-time event, the Western Expo Entertainment Stage, “Cowboy Code,” for the Northern International Livestock Expo (NILE), put together by Almeda Bradshaw, was an over-the-top success.

From the first mice check Wednesday, to the final hooraw Saturday, this was a well received, well planned, successful program. There were so many events going on at the Metra Park grounds that it was nearly impossible to attend them all. But one thing folks were talking about was the entertainment stage at the North end of the vendor area in the Rimrock Auto Arena exhibit hall and rodeo arena.

photo by Almeda Bradshaw
Night Show performers

This is the same building that lost the roof in a tornado June 20, 2010. The folks responsible have done a remarkable job of rebuilding this arena. Picture in your mind, if you will, nearly one hundred vendor booths under the same roof as a stadium with seating for 12,000 around a large, well equipped arena, great sound system and lighting, and you’ll get an inkling of the setting for this four day exposition.

Entertainment ran from 12 noon to 6:30pm Wednesday through Saturday afternoons with a special evening show Friday at 7:00pm at the Cedar Hall. Some in the audience said the Friday evening show was the best they’d ever seen. The general consensus was they felt sorry for those who missed it. Open Range duo, Ric Steinke and Linda Hausler of Livingston, Montana provided the sound system for the Friday evening event and they did an excellent job of getting the sound out to the audience.

Entertainers on board were: Almeda Bradshaw, Huntley, Montana, singer/songwriter, poet and multi-instrumentalist. Almeda has two CDs of original Western songs and poetry. She was named 2010 People’s Choice Musician award in Lewiston, ID and was a finalist at the 2011 Kamloops, BC Rising Star Competition. Almeda teaches Western music in her M2B Ranch Music Studio in Huntley and performs regularly in the Billings area.

photo by Bob Kisken
Joan Comley

Joan Comley, Shepherd, Montana, has been involved with cowboy poetry for many years through her late husband, cowboy poet Bud Comley. Joan now carries on her love of cowboy poetry by sharing Bud’s wonderful poetry as well as writing her own. Joan lives north of Billings, working the family ranch with her children and grandchildren.

photo by Bob Kisken
"GT" Greg Hurley

"GT" Greg Hurley, Big Timber, Montana, is a life-long musician. After serving his country as a career Marine for two decades, GT has returned to his first love; music and songwriting. With a variety of life experiences and travels, GT now makes his home in the West, living, working and understanding the challenges of the Montana ranching community. GT is working on his first CD.

photo by Bob Kisken
Susie Knight

Susie Knight, Evergreen, Colorado, is a professional clown, singer and poet. Susie has been writing cowboy songs and poetry since age 15. True-life experiences are her source for story-like cowboy poetry and western songs. Inspired by rodeo legend, Chris LeDoux, Susie’s style captures a woman’s perspective on rodeo, ranch life and horses. Susie’s album, Western Wordsmith, has been on the Western Music Association chart of Top Ten poetry CDs for ten months, hitting #2.

photo by Almeda Bradshaw
Slim McNaught

Slim McNaught, New Underwood, South Dakota, started life on a ranch in a log cabin on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He started writing poetry in high school and began performing in 2004. Slim has produced five books of poetry and two CDs, has been widely published in numerous anthologies and periodical, and his CD, Reminiscin’, was named the Cowboy Poetry Album/CD of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists in 2009.

photo by Bob Kisken
Duane Nelson

Duane Nelson, The Dalles, Oregon, lives with his wife, Lori, on a wheat and cattle ranch outside of The Dalles. They take care of a small bunch of cows to pay the rent and do day work for other local ranches. Duane also works in outside sales for a local ag co-op, Hood River Supply. When he’s not working, Duane writes and performs poetry.

photo by Bob Kisken
Nevada Slim & Cimarron Sue

Nevada Slim & Cimarron Sue, Prescott, Washington, hail from pioneer ranch and mining families in Nevada and Washington and are one of the busiest performing duos around, averaging 175 performances a year. Nominated as finalists for three different awards in 2010 by the Western Music Association, these “Minstrels of the Old West” deliver a spirited interpretation of traditional Western music honoring working cowboys and cowgirls, as well as those who rode the Silver Screen ranges of Hollywood. With five albums in release and air play in two dozen states, Canada and Great Britain, Slim and Sue are dedicated to spreading their love of Western heritage by drawing from a large repertoire of cowboy songs and poetry.

photo by Bob Kisken
“Ol’ Ugly” John Glawson

“Ol’ Ugly” John Glawson, Nanton, Alberta, Canada, “Canada’s Country Comedian,” delivers barnyard clean comedy…no intentional dirt, but once in a while some fertilizer will hit the stage! Hilarious storytelling like in the days of Hee-Haw, Red Skelton and the Grand Ol’ Opry, “Ol’ Ugly” will have you rolling in the aisles!

photo by Almeda Bradshaw
Christine Schuman

Christine Schuman, Big Timber, Montana, is a native Montanan raised on a dry-land wheat and cattle ranch in the cowboy country of Miles City. She is a self-taught musician and songwriter and has produced a CD, Montana Magic, original songs about her faith and her Montana ranch life in Big Timber. Christine worked many years in the movie industry as a costume and production designer and art director.

photo by Almeda Bradshaw
Terry Taylor

photo by Almeda Bradshaw
Steve Taylor

STAMPEDE!, Steve and Terri Taylor, Roy, Utah, are a multi-award winning Western Music duo that brings good music, classic and original, harmony, humor and just plain good fun to the stage. From large venues to small, STAMPEDE! delivers the very best every time and will leave you either laughing or crying—but you’ll go away knowing you have been entertained by one of the best duos in Western music today. This husband/wife team of Steve, “Best Driver in the West” and pretty good upright bass player, and Terri Taylor dubbed “The Epiglottis Goddess” and a “Triple Threat” by Ranger Doug of Riders in the Sky, have been performing throughout the West since 2000. Terri’s original song, “Colors of the West,” was named WMA Song of the Year in 2005.

photo by Almeda Bradshaw
Cora Wood and Laurie Wood

Cora Wood, Garryowen, Montana, accompanied on stage by her mother, Laurie, is a 10-year-old yodeling ranch cowgirl. Her mom and dad recently moved to the Padlock Ranch in Garryowen. Cora has been twice invited to perform at the National Cowboy Poetry gathering in Elko, Nevada. She has produced a CD of songs and poetry, Cora’s Cowgirl Yodel. She loves to ride and rodeo and helps her dad and little brother, Donner, whenever she can on the ranch.

With a complete range of entertainers like these, the audiences were either bent over with laughter, mesmerized by word smiths, teary eyed with emotion, or just sitting and enjoying the entertainment.

We all applaud Almeda for her hard work organizing this event. If it wasn’t for her "cowboy up and get ‘er done" attitude, this great entertainment show would never have happened. It sure doesn’t look like Almeda will be able to top this one, but she might. You’ll just have to come next year to find out.


October, 2011
20th Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days
Valentine, Nebraska

  report by Willard Hollopeter; photos by Bob Stetter and Mary Schubert


20th Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days

There was rain off and on throughout the twentieth Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days, at Valentine, Nebraska, which, I think, helped in audience attendance for the day sessions, the two evening performances and the Saturday afternoon reunion performance.

photo by Bob Stetter
Otto Rosfeld, Robert Dennis, Marty Blocker, Chuck Parker, RP Smith, Janet Parkhurst, Ken Cook, Willard Hollopeter, Host: Al Mehl, Bonnie Krogman, Paul Larsen

The day sessions saw some new poets and musicians, as well as some who had been here in previous years. Despite simultaneous sessions there was good attendance at both.

photo by Bob Stetter
Jean Prescott

There were a bunch of poets and musicians on the Saturday afternoon performance, hosted by Al "Doc" Mehl. These included Paul Larsen, Bonnie Krogman, Marty Blocker, Ken Cook, Janet Parkhurst, Otto Rosfeld, Chuck Parker, Robert Dennis and Willard Hollopeter.

photo by Bob Stetter
Lyn Messesmith

The Saturday evening performance, hosted by Lyn Messersmith, included musician Jean Prescott, poet Mike Logan, poet Yvonne Hollenbeck, and musician Brenn Hill.

photo by Bob Stetter
Yvonne Hollenbeck

photo by Bob Stetter
Brenn Hill

Chris Harvey did an outstanding job with the trade show and the gym was filled to overflowing.

photo by Mary Schubert

Past Old West Days presidents: Willard Hollopeter, Otto Rosfeld, Erv Ferguson, Cindy
Yenglin, and Dave Leonard. Current president Bob Stetter in back.



October, 2011
Cowboy Poetry Gathering at ArenaFest
Dublin, Texas

report and photos by Elaine Smith

Cowboy Poetry Gathering at ArenaFest

The Cowboy Poetry Gathering at ArenaFest in Dublin, Texas on October 1, 2011 drew poets from all over Texas and as far away as Utah. Intended as a workshop, the gathering evolved into an informal, marathon performance with each poet taking his or her turn presenting memorized or printed poetry both original and classic. A branching of the Cowboy Culture celebration in April, which celebrates the history of the Dublin Rodeo and when a formal contest was held, the ArenaFest Gathering was more casual than the typical competition, encouraging fledgling and experienced poets to get up and show their stuff.

Sitting in the bright Texas sun on a reasonably cool day, we clapped and cheered for each other and paused while the trick shooter galloped his horse by blastin’ away at balloons. Even he sat on his well-trained horse and listened to the poetry during his down time. The emcee was Dean Bradley, a man who has many stories from his childhood of the famous Dublin Rodeo. One of the biggest challenges of the day was getting on stage—not as in getting the previous performer out of the waybut climbing up onto the stage via a folding chair. Someone forgot the steps. 

ArenaFest poets included Jim Cathey, Tyler Guy, Bill Hickman, Jay Lafferty, Laura Proctor, Elaine Smith, and Deborah Swanson.

Debra Swanson on stage with the trick shooter, Andy Andersen, in the background


Organizer, Patty Hirst, a local legend and retired school teacher, is also retiring from event organizing.

Laura Proctor

The Cowboy Poetry Competition during Cowboy Culture Celebration will be on April 20, 2012, headed up by Laura Proctor and Elaine Smith. Travis Bickham is the big cheese of the entire event. Find us all on FaceBook and Cowboy Culture at!/pages/Cowboy-Culture-Celebration/117812834938279.  April in Texas just can’t be beat and the hospitality of the small town of Dublin will likely blow you away!




September 2011
Devils Tower 17th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Devils Tower National Park, Wyoming

  report by Robert Dennis with photos by Bob Kisken
[above photo of Robert Dennis by Jeri L. Dobrowski; see her gallery of western performers and others here.]


Devils Tower 17th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering

It was another sunny beautiful day at Devils Tower on September the 4th for the 17th annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The Park Service started this event as a way to say thank you, to the surrounding ranchers and people who live in the area. The performance is held in the shade of the picnic area with people bringing their lawn chairs and lunch and just setting out in nature, enjoying the afternoon. Many families came with the children playing off away from the performance, disturbing no one, yet their parents could still keep an eye on them and enjoy the show.

photo by Bob Kisken
Robert Dennis

Robert Dennis has been the event coordinator since the beginning and he takes pride in the fact that all the performers who have ever been there are all still connected to the ranching way of life, either as people who used to ranch or are still working ranchers or cowboys.

photo by Bob Kisken
Daron Little

This year's talent included Daron Little from down in southern Wyoming. Daron is an award-winning cowboy singer and entertainer. His music highlights the cowboy and ranching life and traditions. This year, Daron asked a local young lady to come up and join him in a duet of an old cowboy favorite. Brandy Dalton is originally from the Hulett, Wyoming area and had performed a few songs in previous years and met Daron there. Beautiful voice and just so sweet. She and her husband run yearlings for a large ranch in the tri state area.

photo by Bob Kisken
DW Groethe


DW Groethe came down from up in northeastern Montana and is also an award-winning artist. DW writes and performs both poems and songs and is widely sought after at gatherings all over the West. Though he claims to prefer to just work on the ranch, he sure does a bang up job when you can get him to come and perform. 

photo by Bob Kisken
Elizabeth Ebert

Elizibeth Ebert traveled over from her family ranch in northwestern South Dakota and had the crowd roaring with her poems. She also has won numerous awards and is much sought after. Recently she won the first ever Badger Clark award ("The Badger") for her lifetime achievements in poetry. She is always a crowd pleaser and one of the best in the business. They just don't come any sweeter than Beth!

Robert and Chance Dennis rounded out the round robin performance with songs and poems. Robert ranches on the family ranch homesteaded by his ancestors in 1900, in western South Dakota. He played two new songs he had written this spring and the crowd seemed to think he done good.

Chance is a working cowboy/ranch hand in northwestern South Dakota and has played guitar for many years. Usually Chance sets in the background and just fills in the holes in his father's songs and guitar playing, but this year he jumped out and performed several on his own, much to the crowd's approval. Look for him to continue in this venture.

All in all, it was a great afternoon, with a nice crowd, in a beautiful setting. If you like this kind of entertainment be sure to mark the Sunday before Labor Day on your calendar for next year!


August 2011
First Annual Sawtooth/Salmon River Cowboy Poetry And Music Festival  Salmon, Idaho

report and photo by Sam Mattise


First Annual Sawtooth/Salmon River Cowboy Poetry And Music Festival

The first Sawtooth/Salmon River Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival was held in Stanley, Idaho on August 12 & 13. This new event occurred through the work of the many volunteers of the Sawtooth Interpretative and Historical Association.

People such as Laurie and Gary Gadwa, Wes Wills, Jeff and Audra Clegg, and Jessica Haas made sure that all the performers were made welcome in Stanley. A very dedicated group of performers came to this central Idaho mountain town to get this new festival off to a great start.

Performers included J.B. Barber, Arden Gailey, Don Shelman, Layle Bagley, Vern Woodbury and Sam Mattise from Idaho. Coyote Joe Sartin and Lonnie Shurtleff came over from Oregon. Ken Wellard and Robin Arnold came up from Utah and Jim Aasen came down from Washington.

Vern Woodbury

Friday shows were held on the grass at the Stanley Museum. The audience sat on the grass around the stage and listened to these great artists wheel their magic.

The Saturday afternoon show was held at the Redfish Lake Lodge and hosted by Jeff and Audra Clegg. Jessica Haas arranged to have the Saturday night show at the amphitheater at the Redfish Lake Visitors Center.

The late night Saturday jam was graciously hosted by Wes Wills at his Fisher Creek Ranch.

Everyone was pleased with this first endeavor and all look forward to next year's event.


August 2011
26th Annual Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Lewistown, Montana


                         one report by Gwen Petersen

                          additional report below by John Glawson (Ol' Ugly),

                 photos by Bob Kisken


26th Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Western Music Rendezvous
by Gwen Petersen

Montana’s 26th Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Western Music Rendezvous galloped down the trail to the Yogo Inn in Lewistown, Montana Thursday, August 11 through Sunday August 14.

So, how was it? You ask.

Wow! The 2011 Gathering dropped a loop on a sensational event.

On Thursday, poets and pickers hunkered down to a barbecue held in the Yogo courtyard. Followed by an open microphone where poets and pickers stunned one another with poetry and song. (Thursday—always a fun dry-run complete with leg-pulling jokes and wry banter crow-hopping in the air like heel flies on posies).

On Friday, daytime sessions burst out of the chutes with poetry and song starting at nine in the morning. In the evening, a foot-stompin’ Jam ‘n Dance in the Sapphire Room nearly burst the walls. The room was a sea of big hats swaying to the music.

By Saturday, the Yogo Inn hallways were awash with people hurrying from one poetry and song venue to the next. Or they browsed cowboy CD's and books in the bookstore. Or they hiked among the stalls of an amazing bunch of western gear vendors. Paintings, artifacts, jewelry, books, leather items, iron work, clothing—the mind boggled.

Meanwhile out in the courtyard, kids (and quite a few adults) tried their skill (or lack thereof) at roping a plastic steer head. Each participating young roper was awarded his or her very own cowboy bandana.

Bull Mountain Drifters (not a rock group) brought straight shootin’ entertainment to the Gathering in the form of FAST DRAW. Have you ever pretended to be the Lone Ranger or Matt Dillon or Annie Oakley, or John Wayne or…? (Pick your favorite western hero or heroine). Bull Mountain Drifter pros taught wanna-be’s how to outdraw the bad guys with a Colt .45.

photo by Bob Kisken
Riders in the Sky

And then along came Saturday evening and Riders in the Sky. Double and triple WOW! These superb musicians-songsters-comedians-song writers blew everybody’s minds with their sell-out show at the Fergus Co.
Performing Arts Center. For more than 30 years, America’s favorite singing cowboys have “brought good beef to hungry people.” Meet Ranger Doug (Idol of American Youth) on guitar and baritone vocals, Too Slim (a man aging like fine cheese) on bunkhouse bass and tenor vocals, Woody Paul (King of the Cowboy Fiddlers) on  fiddle, tenor and rope tricks, and Joey (the Cow Polka King) on accordion and baritone vocals. For an hour and a half this cowboy quartet had the audience enthralled with a mixture of lively cowboy music and humor.

Riders in the Sky epitomize the real deal; the spirit of cowboy comes shining through.

The Code of the West

1. Live Each Day With Courage.
2. Take Pride In Your Work.
3. Always Finish What You Start.
4. Do What Has To Be Done.
5. Be Tough, But Fair.
6. When You Make a Promise, Keep It.
7. Ride For The Brand.
8. Talk Less and Say More.
9. Remember That Some Things Aren’t for Sale.
10. Know Where to Draw the Line. (from James P. Owens book: Cowboy Ethics).

This was the biggest Montana Gathering yet, so you may be thinking: That’s it for breaking records. Oh, be ye not of little faith! Karen Kuhlmann, Gathering Coordinator and Bob Steinmann, owner of Yogo Inn, let no grass grow under their feet—oh, no. Karen has already booked phenomenal Baxter Black for next year. Karen, with a big shiny silver-dollar smiles says, “Montana Cowboy Poetry makes a lot of friends for Lewistown and helps to preserve our cowboy history.”
She adds that next year’s Gathering will be August 16-19, 2012. She’s already posted tickets for sale on the website:

Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Western Music Rendezvous Mission Statement: To preserve and celebrate the history, heritage and values of the American cowboy in the upper Rocky Mountain west.

© 2011, Gwen Petersen, All rights reserved

photo by Bob Kisken
Ann Secrest Hanson

photo by Bob Kisken
Christine Schuman

photo by Bob Kisken
Dave Robertson


26th Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Western Music Rendezvous
by John Glawson (Ol' Ugly):

Oh, what a job the volunteers and Cowboy Gathering Committee did for the Montana Cowboy Gathering and Music Rendezvous again this year. Well, no, this 26th year, August 11-14th, 2011, was even better. The crowds were there. Every show I went to had bigger crowds than I remember from the past. Some about double last year, I'd say.

From the opening meet-and-greet show on Thursday night until the end of the day on Sunday, people were coming and watching and getting involved with the entertainers artists and craftsmen at the Yogo Inn. And no wonder, with the likes of Pat McAllister, Dave Stamey, Tom Wilson, Ol’ Ugly, Mike Logan and many others performing for the crowds, who wouldn’t want to come out and listen to the cream of western entertainment.

And the arts and crafts of jewelry and paintings and leather and wood crafts that just cried out to be taken and hung on you or your walls.

And that Saturday night show! Oh, special stuff! As MC Margaret Wilhelm got the crowd going with one of her classic humor pieces, you knew it was gonna be fun. Then to be followed by cowboy poet, Lloyd McKenna, giving one of his poems straight from the heart, that had the audience sitting up.

One of the finest mouth organ players in the country is from the Lewistown area and Tom Wilson had the crowd dreaming of round-ups and campfires with his talents on the mouth piece. It was a pleasure for me to listen to you Tom.

photo by Bob Kisken
John Glawson "Ol' Ugly"

After the junior poetry winner presentation they got it back into swing again with the hilarious storytelling of Ol' Ugly. Now that old storyteller can sure get an audience laughing. The audience was now sitting on the front of their seats . . . well them that twern't heading for the little rooms in the hall after that display of comedy.

After eleven-year-old singer Christina Eike's beautiful voice rose through the hall to the cheers of an awed audience they brought out even bigger guns like Dave Stamey and Dave had to be good to get the attention of the audiences after Eike's song. But is there a finer male singer in the land? The audience sure took to Stamey as most audiences do, and rightly so. Wow, what a voice!

Then the opening part of the show was brought to an end by Montana's own great cowboy poet Mike Logan. You still have it Mike. How does a man paint so much beauty into a poem.

After a short break all hell broke loose on that stage as Riders in the Sky put on one of their classic cowboy music, riotously funny shows. They had the audience alternatively clapping their hands, laughing and wondering what was coming next. This act is as fresh and fast paced as the day it started 33 years ago or more.

If you are western or even country how could you miss a show like this—except for the fact the place was purty well sold out. And oh, how those crowds loved the show. You could see it in the fact they were milling around the halls afterwards not really wanting to leave and hoping maybe there was just a bit more to come back there on that stage.

Lewistown Montana, I could feel by the increase in daytime attendance that this Gathering is showing something special. Like I say, crowds were double and even more than I remember from past year. I know it is one of the places fans of western entertainment are marking on their calendars for next year.

I will guess the movers and shakers on the committee like Karen Kuhlmann and Sarah Baxter and all those that are responsible for this show will be happy with the returns on their hard work. You know they sure got my respect for all their hard work.

I sure did enjoyed and Lewistown, Montana and it is on my planning for next year.



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