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(Some links may go out of date.)

2012 Reports



18th Diamond Field Jack Cowboy Gathering, Rupert, Idaho, November

Grand Junction Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Grand Junction, Colorado, November

21st Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days, Valentine, Nebraska, October

15th Annual Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Music & Stories, Hot Springs, South Dakota, September

15th Annual Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Music & Stories, Hot Springs, South Dakota, September  (report 2; separate page)

 Third Annual Stanley/Sawtooth Cowboy Gathering Stanley, Idaho, September

20th Annual Stony Plain Cowboy Gathering, Stony Plain, Alberta, August

25th Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, Prescott, Arizona, August

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

15th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, Kanab, Utah, August (separate page)

14th Annual Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival and Western Art and Gear Show, Monterey, California, December (separate page)


Other reports:

January 2012 reports.
February-May 2012 reports

See reports from 2011 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


Back to Events page . . .
Back on home . . .


September, 2012
15th Annual Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering  Hot Springs, South Dakota 

report by Slim McNaught with photos by Bill Bolte


15th Annual Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering

by Slim McNaught

Spanish is the lovin' tongue,
     Soft as music, light as spray.
'Twas a girl I learnt it from,
     Livin' down Sonora way.
I don't look much like a lover,
     Yet I say her love words over
Often when I'm all alone—
"Mi amor, mi corazon."

Well done, Badger Clark.

That was just one of Badger Clark’s poems heard at the 15th Annual Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Music & Stories. It was held September 22, 2012, at Hot Springs, South Dakota. The Friday night “Bunkhouse Tales”, hosted by Phil and Vicky Wetzel and staff at Woolly’s Western Grill, started with a Western Buffet and Wine Sampling from 5 to 7pm. At 7pm, Robert “Jinglebob” Dennis emceed a group of singers and poets that spanned the spectrum of entertainment abilities. The audience was treated to an evening of great entertainment.

photo by Bill Bolte
Robert "Jinglebob" Dennis, emcee, all-around performer

Saturday kicked off at the Mueller Civic Center with a Writer’s Workshop hosted by Robert “Jinglebob” Dennis and Slim McNaught from 9:30 to 11:30am, followed by an Open Mic Session from 1:30 to 3:30pm, with Gale Patzlaff as emcee. Gale’s wife, Geri, does a great job each year videoing the Saturday evening entertainment.

The main event, the “Saturday Night Roundup” started at 7:00pm, with a meet and greet following the show. Performers were: Yvonne Hollenbeck, ranch wife/poet, from Clearfield, South Dakota; Ken Cook, rancher/poet from Martin, South Dakota; Marty Blocker, Sandhills cowboy poet from Cody, Nebraska; Paul Larson, who lives just outside Rochford, South Dakota, still ropin’, ridin’ and tellin’ about it in song; all emceed by Robert “Jinglebob” Dennis, fourth-generation rancher, singer/songwriter/poet, and premier Master of Ceremonies from Red Owl, South Dakota.

photo by Bill Bolte
Yvonne Hollenbeck, tellin' it like it is

photo by Bill Bolte
Paul Larson pickin' 'n' singing'

photo by Bill Bolte
Marty Blocker reciting his great poetry

photo by Bill Bolte
Ken Cook performing

MaryJo Grill once again put together what turned out to be one of the best performances yet. Every year we wonder how she can top last year’s show, and every year she does it again. Her talent, with the help of Scott Haden, Georgia Pomrenke, Olivia Mears, and the Board of Directors of the Hot Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, continually bring the best entertainment available to our area. Mike Linderman, who provided the sound system, done a great job of making all the performers sound good. Hats off to Mike for a very professional performance.

Bill Bolte has earned my lasting gratitude for allowing me to use his photography for this report. Bill is an excellent photographer and furnished some great shots of the performers in action. Also my thanks to Ken Cook for putting me in contact with Bill’s work.

This proved to be one of the best performances I have attended. Great facilities, excellent performers, well planned scheduling, and a fine audience, all mixed to leave everyone wanting more. We plan to come back next year to see what happens then. I’m bettin’ it will be another great one.

photo by Bill Bolte
The performers with Mary Jo Grill, windin' up the show


See another report here from this gathering, written by Sam Day and illustrated by Cal Brackin.


November, 2012
18th Diamond Field Jack Cowboy Poetry Gathering Rupert, Idaho

 report by Sam Mattise


18th Diamond Field Jack Cowboy Gathering

by Sam Mattise

Well, the dust has settled for one more year at the historic Wilson Theater in downtown Rupert, Idaho. The 18th performance of the Diamond Field Jack Cowboy Gathering is in the books. This gathering was again hosted by the Cowboy Poets of Idaho, Inc. (CPI) and is a fundraiser for the restoration of this theater. The project is under the guidance of Chris Jackson and Earl Corliss and is approximately 75% complete.

Day shows were held both Friday and Saturday. Shows started at noon and were held every hour, simultaneously on two stages which gave every attending performer plenty of opportunity to perform. The Friday night show began at 6:30 with a pre-show by the Fall River Boys. The show began at 7:00, with Sam Mattise and Wayne Nelson having the MC duties.. They hosted the talents of Bob and Marion Baird, Christine Riker, Bruce “Looselip” Pinson, Bob Jackson, Destiny Hunzeker, Don Shelman, Tommy Patton, Jerry Bell and concluded with the fine music of the Eclectic Cowboy, Lonnie Shurleff.

On Saturday at 3pm, the Tall Tales Contest began, with event boss Bruce “Looselip” Pinson, and 11 people telling their “true” stories. Vern Woodbury told the wildest tale and won the contest. At 4:30, the Cowboy Poets of Idaho Educational Auction was held, with auctioneer Sam Mattise. This auction supports the educational programs that CPI conducts and encourages in schools throughout the northwest.

The Saturday night pre-show was a jam with John Sidle, Bob Jackson, Al Romriell, and Lonnie Shurtleff on stage. The night performance had a packed house and was hosted by Layle Bagley and Sam DeLeeuw. They introduced the talents of Gene and Sandy Jones, J.B. Barber, Al and Corine Romriell, Ellie Corrigan, Ken Wellard, Bobbie Hunter, John Sidle, Vern Woodbury and concluded with the enthusiastic music of the Fall River Boys.

Friday and Saturday night jams were hosted by Sandy and Earl White and went well into the early morning hours. Sandy and Earl are great supporters of CPI and the performers of the Diamond Field Jack Cowboy Gathering. We’re all looking forward to returning, in 2013, to the Wilson Theater and the great support we get from the city of Rupert.


November, 2012
Grand Junction Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Grand Junction, Colorado

report by Peggy Malone, photos by Bob Kisken

Grand Junction Cowboy Poetry Gathering

by Peggy Malone

There's a saying, "You don't have to be big to be appreciated." Our Grand Junction Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering is a very intimate Gathering. We aren't one of the big flashy events and that's what makes ours all the more endearing. It's as close a feeling of "sitting around a campfire" with friends that you can get...even though it is an inside event.

When you walk through the doors, you are met with a warm rush of friendship and camaraderie. That's why folks come back, year after year. It truly feels like a family get together, topped off with real fine cowboy poetry and music.

This year, the stage was gifted with a great lineup of poets and Western singers:

Pat Martin, Grand Junction, Colorado. Her emotional poem about giving her ol' saddle away, choked us all up, and her included. She brings the reality of what happens as we get older and the changes that have to be made, like selling or giving away your saddle. This true story/poem confirmed that the saddle lives on with a new bunch of kids to ride it and tenderly care for it. You end up feeling comforted, knowing the saddle will continue helping the youngsters learn to ride and take care of it. TLC and neatsfoot oil will do the trick.

photo by Bob Kisken,
Ross Knox

Ross Knox, Yosemite, California. Ross and gathering founders Ronna Lee and Tom Sharpe go back years and years. There was some gentle teasing, back and forth, about old times. We were so glad that he was invited back this year. He has quite a bunch of mules that keep him pretty busy at Yosemite Park. For many years he worked at the Grand Canyon, taking tourists down the narrow trail to the bottom. He would also deliver supplies to the Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon. His mules have served him well, and you can tell that he lives the poems he writes. That's what makes each poet unique. Their own experiences come through in the stories they write. It all makes for very entertaining shows.

We had a very nice surprise addition to the open mic session:

photo by Bob Kisken,
Susie Knight

Susie Knight of Evergreen, Colorado, was on her way back from Heber City Gathering, and she graced the stage with her great poem that she wrote for the Durango Gathering. Thanks Susie for stopping by!

Also, JP Gorham from Prescott, Arizona, drove all that way, just to check out our gathering, and be part of the open mic segment. He was kind enough to help me with a tender phone call to 94 yr. old Frances Wheeler, cowgirl poet, who is now in the local nursing home. This is the first gathering she could not attend because of failing health. We missed her so, and wanted her to know she was thought of. We all shouted a big ol' "Howdy Frances!" t her and JP recited a poem that I wrote last week, after visiting her. It was a very special moment for
us all.

by Peggy Malone (last verse by JP Gorham)

     I came to see her, at the ol' nursing home
A smile crossed her face, as we sat there alone
We shared many stories...some old and some new
Of struggles and sunshine to mention a few.

     I noticed a picture, all yellowed with age
Five kids on a pony...the barn was its stage
She proudly admitted, she had quite a crew
And had nine in all, by the time she was through!

     She told of the night when bright stars shown above
She'd finished her milkin'...and checked on her love
For he had been sick, but the chores couldn't wait
He passed on that night, through God's heavenly gate.

      I sat there and listened like I had not a care
Words paint a picture, and I felt I was there
Her eyes, how they danced, though she barely could see
This time was a treasure, just her and just me.

      But, I had to leave, though I hated to go
"What can I get you? so, just please let me know!"
"Oh, yes," she replied, "I love Louie L'Amour,
Go fetch his CD on the shelf by the floor."

     I popped in his story of days long ago
Her pleasure was showing, she had a new glow
She listened a while...her eyes wanting to close
So I kissed her sweet cheek and said, "Adios."

      I stood in the hallway and thought for a bit
The life she has lived, her heart and her grit
I wiped off a tear, but a smile shone through
I might walk away, but she came with me, too.

Fred Ellis recently moved from Meeker, Colorado to Penrose, Colorado. We were sure glad to have him return and be part of our gathering. His poem "Just 5 Acres" really made us all stop and think about what progress has done to gobbling up our history and productive land. It's one of his best poems, but we all anticipated his "Cowboy Rap," which didn't disappoint us. He always brings the house to a roar of laughter!

photo by Bob Kisken,
Slim Farnsworth

Slim Farnsworth, Cedaredge, Colorado. This young man, who is about to become a daddy for the first time in March, really did a great job reciting some classics...with superb animation. He does a lot of fast-paced verses; you feel you have to breathe for him. His "Rindercella" poem, which is a twisted take on "Cinderella" had us rolling in the aisles! Ed Carpenter use to do this one too, and it's nice to hear this poem kept alive and kickin'.

Tim Krebs, Dove Creek, Colorado. This was the first time I had the pleasure of hearing Tim Krebs sing, and sing he did with elegance and charm. He has a tenderness in his voice that wins you over immediately. His guitar adds just enough to complement his voice. It's evident that he has strong Western morals, as it shows in the selection of his songs. A true country gentleman. We all look forward to hearing more from him.

Al Abrethsen, Grand Junction, Colorado. Al is a long-time performer at our gathering. He truly amazes everyone with his spunk,at the tender age of almost 91 years. old. A WWII Vet who can still belt out a mean song on the mouth harp, his poems are mostly true. As a matter of fact, he has a new book out called From True to Coulda Been. The proceeds from
the sale of this book, during this event, went to the Museum of Western Colorado.

photo by Bob Kisken,
Jerry Brooks

Jerry Brooks of Sevier, Utah is such a treat to listen to. Her phrasing of the classic poems truly makes you feel like you
are there and part of the poem. You end up hanging on each word, for the emotion she portrays is unmatched. She's one hard working gal, who finds time to do what she loves. She had just been at the Heber City Gathering the day before. We reminisced about our buddy Jack DeWerff, cowboy poet, who is having health problems. We ended up surprising and calling him before the show started, to let him know we were thinking of him. It was just a very special conversation across the
miles to Arizona.

Ray Lashley, Grand Junction, Colorado. When I say Ray Lashley, a flood of good times throughout the years, surround my memory. I first met him when I was singing on the Chief Joseph Trail Ride sponsored by the Appaloosa Horse Club, out of Moscow, Idaho. He would recite his poems and the classics, while I would take a break, during the night show. When he'd do that Sunny Hancock's poem, the "The Horse Trade," I was hooked on his style and had to hear more. Ray is also a WWII
veteran. He's always a nice addition to the gathering here in the Grand Valley.

photo by Bob Kisken,
Tom Sharpe

Tom Sharpe, Loma, Colorado. When Tom isn't reciting poetry, he's in the saddle most of the day. He's a well known trainer of ranch horses in the Grand Valley. His love of horses shows in the way he delivers the lines of the poems he recites. One of his favorites is "Where The Ponies Come To Drink" by Henry Herbert Knibbs. The picture that this classic poem creates is pure magic. His lovely wife Ronna Lee and he put many hours into lining up the participants in this show. We appreciate their commitment to making this event an annual good-old-fashioned good-time get-together.

photo by Bob Kisken,
Terry Nash

Terry Nash, Loma, Colorado. Here's another feller that just continues to blow us away with his sincerity and love for the Western way of life. Every chance he has free, he'll be looking at the world as seen from between his horse's ears, "Ol' Sherm." It seems whenever you want to reach him, he's off working cattle of his own, or helping neighboring ranches work theirs. The very next day, after our gathering, he was off in the high country, moving 500 head and sorting them. Everyone
is known by a certain signature poem. I think his is "The Hiccup." It's especially popular with the young poets.

Becky Sue, Joey Martin of Grand Junction, Colorado. It is totally refreshing to see and hear these youngsters writing their own poems and reciting them. They are truly our future, in the Grand Junction Cowboy Gathering. Their grandpa Curly Dunnagan was their inspiration, and they have been passed the torch. I have never witnessed this age group sitting day and night for two days straight, hanging on every word spoken. They truly love cowboy poetry, and it's fun watching them grow
and perform. Becky Sue came up to me, during the show, and said, "Can I please stand near you for a while? My horse fell on me the other day when he spooked...and my leg got twisted, and I need to stand a while." She already has the battle scars of a true cowgirl! Little Joey Martin did a fine job imitating a rooster during one of Slim Farnsworth's poems. They are real buds, those two guys.

Ami Martin of Grand Junction, Colorado is the proud mama of Becky Sue and Joey. She is no bigger than a whisper, and also joined in and did a poem or two. You can just see Curly smiling down at his grandkids carrying on the cowboy poetry tradition.

Deb Bukala, Glade Park, Colorado. Deb lives way up on God's high prairie town of Glade Park, where she lovingly takes care of quite a few of retired ol' horses. Along with her five rescued dogs, she is kept busy. Her husband Chris is a double vet. He's a veteran and a veterinarian. Her experiences with animals and life make for very interesting stories through her music. She sings for her hospice patients and brings them great joy. We have welcomed her to our gathering, and she has added a nice new spark with her enthusiasm. I must mention, that her husband Chris treats our service dogs from the war zones of Afghanistan. We are very proud of his service to our country, the great U. S. A.

photo by Bob Kisken,
Nona Kelley Carver

Nona Kelley Carver, Mesa, Colorado. Nona's style is unique. The humor she weaves into her poems is just delightful. Her more serious poems are equally entertaining. But, I must say, one of my favorites is "Tic Tac Toe," about that ornery little sneaky field mouse that got loose at the Grange Hall and snuck up the ol' gals leg and petticoat.. Well, you just have to request it, next time you run into Nona. She always captivates the audience with her heartfelt poetry. We are lucky to
say that she lives nearby.

Donnie Wynkoop of Fruita, Colorado. My goodness, this guy just  continues to amaze us all with his sense of humor. One of his very favorite poems is about how he explains that he has this problem about not bidding when at a cattle auction. His arm just wants to strike the up position and buy buy buy. I forget the exact name of his poem, but I do remember it kinda rhymes with "alcoholic," like "Cow-co-holic?" You get the gist of it.  If it weren't for his daytime job as manager of our Fruita City Market, you'd be hearing more of him. Let's hope we do.

Vess Quinlan, San Luis Valley, Colorado. Vess is a very popular returning poet to our gathering. He has a gentle way about his delivery of his poems that truly touch the heart. He even read a poem that his daughter wrote, and it really grabbed you. It was about how she wished to be big enough to join her dad and the crew and operate a baler. You could see, in his expression, that this poem brought back good memories of father-and-daughter times. Vess has been a big influence in cowboy poetry and a strong presence at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada  the Daddy of them all..
It's always a treat to see and hear Vess.

Slim McWilliams, Lewis, Colorado. Last, but not least, this fellow blew us away with his rich baritone voice. The clarity and richness that his voice added to his songs and really vibrated your ribcage. It was pure joy to hear his part of the show. Between his guitar playing and his vocals, the audience was treated superbly. We all hope to see him more often in the Grand Valley. He graciously added a nice harmony when Deb Bukala sang "Night Rider's Lament".

As for myself, I totally enjoyed working the P.A. both days, and adjusting the sound for each performer's style and voice. It was pure pleasure being part of the Friday Night Show. My ol' 1957 Epiphone guitar and I have shared many a good time together. If guitars had feelings, my Guild F50 would say, "Hey...don't forget me!" I do love my guitars!

photo by Bob Kisken,
Peggy Malone

The whole gathering was special, and we look forward to next year's. It's always the first part of November. We'd love to have you all join us next time. Come sit around our imaginary campfire and relax and enjoy our welcoming Grand Valley area.

                                                               See you then, Happy Singin' Trails, Pickin' Peggy Malone, Fruita, Colorado



A version of this report appears at


October, 2012
21st Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days, Valentine, Nebraska

  report by Willard Hollopeter, photos by Bob Stetter and Bob Kisken



21st Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days

by Willard Hollopeter


The weather was chilly, but not bad, the first weekend in October for the 21st annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days at Valentine.

The day sessions had pretty good attendance in both venues. The non-featured poets and musicians on the day sessions are all professional entertainers in their own rights. We have seen great improvement in the day session performances throughout the years—also, an increase in audience attendance.

photo by Bob Kisken,
Kip Sorlie

photo by Bob Kisken,
Marci Broyhill

photo by Bob Kisken,
Slim McNaught

photo by Bob Kisken,
Bob Petermann

The Friday evening performance featured Nebraska poet, Rick Buoy; Montana musician, Bob Petermann; funny-man poet, Jess Howard, Montana; and New Mexico musician, Randy Huston and daughter Hannah.

photo by Bob Stetter
Hannah Huston and Randy Huston

The Saturday afternoon performance featured musician/poet Georgeann Wearin, Wyoming; Jess Howard; Nebraska’s auctioneer/musician, Mike Baxter, with wife Lynn on piano; Rick Buoy; Bob Petermann; humorist Rodney Nelson, North Dakota; and musical group, Three Hands High with Jill Jones, Texas.

photo by Bob Kisken,
Rick Buoy

photo by Bob Stetter
Rodney Nelson


The Saturday evening show featured Mike and Lynn Baxter, Georgeann Wearin, Rodney Nelson and Three Hands High.

photo by Bob Stetter
Georgann Wearin

An audience-pleasing event was a storytelling session. The humorous storytellers kept them laughing. Some said afterward that it is a keeper.

Two performances of the "Old Time Melodrama" were enjoyed by a good-sized audience and, as usual, Kris did a great job with the Western Art, Trade and Quilt show. The gymnasium was filled to capacity.

photo by Bob Kisken,
Al "Doc" Mehl at the jam session

photo by Bob Kisken,
Three Hands High at the jam session

photo by Bob Kisken,
Bob Stetter, Old West Days President, OWD president.
The fellow who keeps everything from falling apart.


September, 2012
2nd Annual Stanley/Sawtooth Cowboy Gathering  Stanley, Idaho

 report by Sam Mattise

2nd Stanley/Sawtooth Cowboy Gathering

by Sam Mattise

The 2nd Stanley/Sawtooth Cowboy Gathering was held in Stanley, Idaho on September 13 and 14, 2012. Members and volunteers of the Mountain Mama’s Society hosted the 2012 event. With the help of coordinator Julie Hughes, the event was a success and all the performers had a great time in Stanley.

This year’s group of performers included J.B. Barber, Don Shelman, Layle Bagley, Ellie Corrigan, Sam Mattise, Lonnie Shurtleff, Ken Wellard, Dave Fulfs, Jim Aasen, and Alan and Corean Romriell.

Two shows were held each afternoon at 1pm and 3pm with a night show at 7pm. Friday afternoon shows were held at River One and at the Stanley Museum. On Saturday, afternoon shows were held at the Redfish Lake Lodge and at the Mountain Village Inn. Night shows were held on the grass in the center of town. The late night jams were graciously hosted by Wayne and Julie Hughes on Friday and Wes Wills on Saturday.

The event was somewhat hampered by the major wild fires that were active in the nearby forests. For our weekend, the wind was in our favor and the valley was clear of smoke. Plans have already started for next years event.


August, 2012
20th Annual Stony Plain Cowboy Gathering  Stony Plain, Alberta

   report and photos by Doris Daley


The 20th Annual Stony Plain, AB Cowboy Festival

by Doris Daley

Artists from four provinces and one state hit the trail for Stony Plain, Alberta (just west of Edmonton) last month to celebrate that town's 20th annual cowboy poetry and music festival, Aug. 17-19. The geographical diversity was matched by a sort of time travel snapshot: if you listed all the times that this year's performers had previously been to Stony Plain, all 20 years would be on the list.

The Stony Plain show has been through every type of weather imaginable (heat waves, hail storms, cold snaps, sleet fests) and has been staged in almost every venue in Stony Plain except perhaps the recycling depot and/or the KFC parking lot by the railroad tracks. Some of us old-timers remember performing in the museum, the open air pavilion, the outdoor stage, downtown at the park amphitheatre and around the campfire near the old RV park. Every year, despite these challenges, the festival just gets better and better, making it one of the premier events of its kind in Alberta.
The Friday night show was indeed a gift, called "The Gift: A Tribute to Ian Tyson." Led by Edmonton keyboard artist and co-writer of From Yellowhead to Yellowstone Stewart MacDougall, the show pays tribute to the enormous contribution that Ian has made to Canada and the west in general through his singular, decades-long music career. It was a real treat to hear many of the older Tyson tunes that don't get played frequently on 21st century stages. Saturday night's show featured Canada's one-and-only Tim Hus. Tim's voice is sweeter than a Husqvarna chainsaw and his list of Songs Canadiana is longer than a Saskatchewan fence line. Billy MacInnis (fiddle) and Riley Tubbs (bass) make Tim's show a dynamic one to both watch and listen to (as anyone will attest who heard them play in Elko last year.)

A covey of cowgirls at the 2012 Stony Plain Gathering.
Windi Scott, Eli Barsi, Sue Harris, Doris Daley, Carmen Lindsay

Alberta whiz kid Ben Crane (who isn't a kid anymore, now that I realize his own kids are in high school) and British Columbia guitar sensation Ed Peekeekoot opened the show for Tim. Ed has been a frequent (and dazzling) headliner at the Kamloops, BC festival and makes his Monterey, California debut this December. Elko audiences can look forward to seeing him in January.

Friday and Saturday daytime shows were staged on the Pioneer Museum park site in the little church, the tea house, and at the main stage. And because the weather was so hot this year (and because what would a Stony Plain gathering be without weather-related adjustments) an impromptu stage was set up on the lawn. Given the choice between crunching up on picnic tables or fainting inside the Tea House, everyone chose the picnic tables.

Sue Harris from Arizona often manages to escape the August head of Phoenix to participate in this Gathering. From Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC came these fine cowboy artists: Tim Hus, Eli Barsi, Hugh McLennan, Garth and Rose Bibby, Ed Brown, Ben Crane, Ed Peekeekoot, Windi Scott, Randy Smith, Duane Stewart, and Bryn Thiessen. I think this was the 12th time I have performed here.

The Sunday morning gang at Sony Plain: back row: Windi Scott, Ben Crane, Randy Smith.
Middle row: Eli Barsi, Duane Stewart, John Cunningham, Hugh McLennan, Carmen Lindsay.
Kneeling in front: Bryn Thiessen

Sunday morning in the big pavilion saw one of the finest cowboy church services ever! A highlight for me was the impromptu harmonies offered by almost anyone who felt like getting up to the microphone. Bill Gaither better be looking over his shoulder: at any given time, the likes of Eli, Ben, Hugh, Randy, Windi, Sue, Duane, Ed and special guest Carmen Lindsay were either leading out with a beautiful worship song, or adding harmonies to someone else's vocals. The Stony Plain Sunday Morning Cowboy Poetry Gospel Love-In Improv Band: get a bus and hit the road!

The Alberta Foundation for the Arts deserves big thanks for supporting the western arts through a foundation grant. Many thanks also to the generous sponsorship of the Best Western Sunrise Inn and Suites, Boston Pizza, 790 CFCW Radio, the Town of Stony Plain and Decker Properties. No report on this gathering would be complete without acknowledging the fabulous volunteers and Gathering President Donna Cowan, who has worked tirelessly to bring the event to its present level of success, building on the inspiration and sweat equity of previous leaders Frank Cantafio and John Lindsay.

For information on next year's Gathering, visit


August, 2012
25th Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering  Prescott, Arizona

  report and photos by Nika Nordbrock

This report also appears at with additional photos

 "Life in the Fast Lane" by Fred Fellows,;
poster design by Sally Harper Bates


Time Flies—Silver Anniversary for Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, Prescott, Arizona

by Nika Nordbrock

It was hard to believe that Warren Miller started the Gathering twenty-five years ago.  As the theme of the Gathering was Time Flies, poets, musicians, and audience certainly felt that way after the fantastic weekend at the 25th Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott, Arizona, on August 9, 10 and 11, 2012. The weekend weather was a bit warm for Prescott, but the blue skies were perfect

The Gathering mourned the passing of rancher, cowboy poet, community volunteer and retired Army Brigadier General Bud Strom from Hereford, Arizona.  Bud died on July 28, 2012, at age 80. Bud was the co-founder of the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering.

Over the last twenty-five years, we have empty saddles for some of our cowboy poets—Buck Ramsey, Larry McWhorter, Jody Sixkiller, Lee Brimhall, Ray Owens, Niles Jones, Joe Baer, Mason Coggin, Joette Conley, Barbara Hall, Tom Blasingame, Marvin Bennett, Gail I Gardner, J.B. Allen, Everett Brisendine, Dan Jarvis, Ken Graydon, Slim Kite, Sunny Martin, Carol Malnar, Sunny Hancock, Tommy Thomas, and Weldon Rutledge to name just a few who have gone to “a better job” where the grass is always green and belly high and the horses are always gentle.

This year over 75 very talented poets, reciters, and musicians gathered together to celebrate the twenty-fifth gathering with the multiple day sessions and three evening shows. In keeping with the theme of Time Flies, the evening shows were held in the Performing Arts Center at the Yavapai College Prescott Campus, 1100 E. Sheldon. The all-volunteer Gathering crew once again made it a seamless event for the public.  It was all great. The evening shows terrific.  The poetry day sessions were outstanding with serious and humorous cowboy poetry. The cowboy music sessions were packed, too. The college venue still provided patrons with plenty of parking, convenient bathrooms, plenty of seating in the larger venues, and air-conditioned rooms.

"Part of the Tribe"
Mike Dunn, Ken Cook, Jay Snider
Glen Moreland, Joel Nelson, Chris Isaacs

The Prescott Gathering, like the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, Texas, invites, with a few exceptions, poets, reciters, and musicians who have earned their livelihood on horseback as working cowboys and in the livestock/ranching industry. The Gathering received support from various community sponsors—hotels, restaurants, businesses, and individuals. 

The public part of the Gathering kicked off with the Thursday evening show which featured Don Edwards. Show host Tom Weathers introduced poets Elizabeth Ebert, Chris Isaacs, Sally Bates, Ken Cook, Gail Steiger, Carole Jarvis, and the Broken Chair BandJim Dunham was awarded the 2012 Gail I. Gardner Award for a Cowboy Poet.

Friday morning the poets and singers participated in outreach programs at the fourth grade classes at six elementary schools, at the Vet Center, and at the Arizona Pioneers Home. 

At Noon on Friday, the Gathering started with a big opening session in the Yavapai College Performance Hall. Yavapai College Vice President Dr. Greg Gillespie welcomed everyone to the College on behalf of Yavapai College President Penny Wills. Gail Steiger delivered an inspiring keynote. The audience then enjoyed listening to Lyle Suttill, Gail Starr, Katie McCall Owen, and Mike White. Then for the next four hours, the patrons scattered to eight venues, where they could enjoy a variety of cowboy poetry, stories, and music.  

Evening host Sally Bates kept the 7:00 pm Friday show at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center running smoothly and on time. Gary and Jean Prescott headlined the show and were joined on stage by poets Lola Chiantaretto, Ray Fitzgerald, Rolf Flake, Deanna McCall, Ken Moore, Tom Sharpe, Rod Taylor, and Kip Calahan-Young and her husband Dale Young. Fourth graders also recited their poems which they had written for the Gathering’s “Poetry in the Schools” program.

Three generations of cowboy poets; the McCall Family

Saturday was another busy day with the eleven concurrent day sessions from 9:00 am-5:00 pm at the Yavapai College Prescott Campus. At 9:00 am, poets recited their poems about the Gathering theme Time Flies, based on the painting Winning is Everything by Fred Fellows, CAA. See Fred’s website During the day, folks took a break to stroll through the Prescott Farmers Market, enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant or the college’s cafeteria, or listened to the sessions.

At 1:00 pm, Mary Matli hosted the special ranch history session, which featured the work of photographer Scott Baxter.  Baxter presented a PowerPoint of 30 photos which are included in his recently published book, 100 Years, 100 Ranchers, which is an Arizona Centennial Project. You can read more about the project at Scott’s website The Gathering public also was able to attend other special sessions, such as Banjos and Bones with Sid Hausman and Warren Miller; Coffee with the Cowboys and Ranch Stories with Neil Abbott and his crew of cowboy storytellers; and the special Tub Talk with Washtub Jerry. All day cowboy poetry fans were able to enjoy not only sessions of Western history but also serious and humorous cowboy poetry, cowboy classics, and cowboy music. The day sessions ended with a special session entitled “A Tribute to the Vets.”

On Saturday evening, 7:00 pm performance, which was hosted by Randy Huston, headlined the Desert Sons, very special friends of the Gathering, and poets Leon Flick, Joel Nelson, Tim Nolting, Kay Nowell, and Charlotte Thompson and musicians Slim McWilliams and Bob Campbell. The special highlight was the awarding of the new Legacy Award which the Gathering established to honor someone who is believed to be leaving a legacy in the genre of cowboy poetry and music. The Desert Sons were the first recipients of this award as they have left tracks that won’t blow out.

Arizona Old Time Fiddlers

All too soon the time together flew by, and patrons, poets, host families, and sponsors parted once again. The cowboy poet family, new and old “tribe” members, left each other with hugs, waves, and see you next year. The words “Vaya con Dios” and “how time flies” drifted across the Arizona air.

If you missed the Gathering, you can still purchase the 25th commemorative poster, programs, coins, bolos, and other Gathering merchandise.  Contact the Gathering at

Remember to mark your calendars and check the website for August 8-10, 2013, and the 26th Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott, Arizona. It’s one gathering that you don’t want to miss. Be sure to bookmark as one of your favorite sites and “like” the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering on Facebook.


April 6, 2013
Don Edwards and the Prescott Pops Symphony with special Guest Rich O’Brien
Yavapai College Performing Arts Center, Prescott, Arizona
Tickets available February 4, 2013,  or 928-776-2000
Benefit for the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering and the Phippen Museum of Western Art

August 8-10, 2013
26th Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering
Yavapai College, Prescott, Arizona 




August, 2012
27th Annual Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Lewistown, Montana

  report by Gwen Petersen with photos by Bob Kisken


In one’s brief time on this earthly coil it behooves one to harvest warm memories. Recently, I reaped bushels—enough to keep joy in my heart for as long as I remain on top of the grass. I’m speaking of the twenty-seventh Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Lewistown, Montana. There were so many outstanding aspects, it’s difficult to wrap a report in mere words.

To quote one individual who never misses the Gathering, it’s a time to “renew a lot of once-a-year friendships and make new friends as well.” For us cowboy poets and pickers, it’s like a huge family reunion. Howdys, handshakes, hugs and kisses aplenty. It’s a three-day soak in a bathtub of warmth.

Two workshops added extra excitement to the Gathering. Darrell Stevenson presented a slide show about establishing the Stevenson Sputnik Cattle Ranch in Russia. Imagine a stretch of ground three or four times the size of the entire USA and none of it fenced. A cow could travel from Russia to Poland with nothing to stop her except a cowboy on a horse.

Darrell told stories of the cultural differences, the language barriers, the thick layers of frustrating bureaucratic red tape, the incredible management details. He kept the seated audience and the hundred or so standing-room-only listeners enthralled. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read about or hear Darrell speak, take time out to do so. Darrell Stevenson and his Montana cowboys have turned a dream into a reality that will change the world. He started with 1,434 cattle shipped in 2010. Last year, that number increased to 4,000 and 4,500 more are on order.

The other electrifying workshop was presented by the cowboy’s cowboy—that gloriously incorrigible head of the “cowboy family”—Baxter Black. He’s gone and written another book titled: LESSONS FROM A DESPERADO POETHow to Find Your Way When You Don’t Have A Map, How To Win The Game When You Don’t Know The Rules, and When Someone Says It Can’t Be Done, What They Really Mean Is THEY Can’t Do It.

This book is a keeper and nearly impossible to review because every romp-stomping word is a gem. To quote a bit of the jacket blurb: “Part memoir, part how-to, all Baxter Black, Lessons from a Desperado is a humorous, witty take on making a living by doing the right thing and trying everything.”

Quoth Black: “Success does not take a genius; it just requires the persistence of a glacier…Remember, often it is not ability, it’s reliability. The world is run by those who show up.”

“…a story of continuously overcoming the odds, Lessons from a Desperado Poet leaves a trail of self-improvement and motivational tortilla crumbs that readers will follow with delight—before, that is, squirreling them away in their own cerebral pockets for later use.”

Naturally, Baxter headlined the 27th Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering night show with his laugh-till-your-sides hurt poetry, startling antics and wry wit. He’s easy to find. Go to and there he is.

Do you have a bucket list? I do. My latest addition to said list is to throw a huge whingding starring BB. Make it a roaring, thunderous rousing tribute to our cowboy culture. Proceeds to benefit the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. Now, isn’t that a good idea? Can it be done? Watch this space to find out.

When Someone Says It Can’t Be Done, What They Really Mean Is THEY Can’t Do It.” (I never
repeatnever pay attention to THEY sayers).

A few of the poets and musicians at the gathering: 

photo by Bob Kisken,
Gwen Petersen

photo by Bob Kisken,
Bob Petermann

photo by Bob Kisken,
Dale Page

photo by Bob Kisken,
Steve Porter

photo by Bob Kisken,
Ann Secrest Hanson

photo by Bob Kisken,
Mike Logan




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



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