Cowboy Poetry and Western Life

Events and Festivals

Gathering Reports
2002

July - December

See reports for January - June here

We invite folks to send in reports about gatherings.

Following are reports about events that 
are linked from event listings on the Events page. 

(Some links may be out of date.)

2002 Reports

See reports for January - June here

AWA Awards (Texas) July (separate page)

Big Bear (California) August

Prescott (Arizona) August

Lewistown (Montana) August

Kanab (Utah) August (separate pages)

Cheyenne (Wyoming) September

Lubbock (Texas) September

Riverton (Wyoming) September

Safford (Arizona) September

Dallas (Texas) October

Durango (Colorado) October

Valentine (Nebraska) October

Kamloops Hay Harvest West (BC) October

Clinton (BC) October

Fort Worth (Texas) October

George West (Texas) November

Grand Canyon, Tusayan (Arizona) November

Egypt (Texas) November

Gilbert (Arizona) November

WMA Las Vegas (Nevada) November

Anson (Texas) December

 

See reports for  January - June here

See links to all gathering reports since 2000 here


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

 



Third Annual Gathering  Big Bear Lake, California
August, 2002
by "California Steve" Dirksen


The Third Annual Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering at Big Bear Lake, California was tremendous.  With organizers like Bill Strickler and Liz Harris it had to  be good.

I was sharing a stage with some of the best poets around.  My first round was with Andy Hedges, Buckshot Dot, and Barry Rumsey, and then with Gary Robertson, Chuck Powell and Gail Burton. Later I was with Bud Strom who runs the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering in Sierra Vista, Arizona.  My last participation was shared with Curly Musgrave and Belinda Gail.  

There was a full on super show Saturday night, which my wife Eileen and I got to enjoy with a full house at the Big Bear Performing Arts Center:  Dennis Gaines (Wow!), Dave Stamey, New West (I got to chat with Mike Fleming at the last show I did, what a crack up),  Curly Musgrave, Belinda Gail, plus Joni Harms.  It was Super.  Next year they are scheduling the show for July 17 - 20.  Don't miss it.


15th Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering  Prescott, Arizona
August 2002
By
Byrd Woodward  

The gathering, I think must have been the best ever....it surely was of the four we've attended...it was one of the best as far as the quality of the show is concerned........we'd never seen Randy Reiman before.....Holy Smoke!!.....and of course, Don Edwards is one of our all time favorites. The day time sessions were run so smoothly they appeared seamless, the music was uniformly wonderful... There were lots of sessions begun with a prayer for Dee's son ["Buckshot Dot" Dee Strickland Johnson's son suffered a serious accident two weeks earlier] and so many special thoughts were flying his way ....Joel Nelson was looking so good and says he's just feeling great...Jesse Smith and his wife and little Jesse Jr. were there with bells on....little Jesse got to draw the ticket for the Olen Miller saddle Saturday night and his stage presence is just as relaxed and genuine as his Dad's...he must be about five.... (the fellow who won the saddle was there!)....Sally Bates, Suzi Killman and Jean Prescott did a show together at the amphitheater stage and left their audience on their feet and breathless.....so much good stuff happened and you know, having been there, the atmosphere in Prescott is like a family reunion where everybody likes each other......I've only just skimmed a little cream off the top here but it was truly an almost magical gathering, except for the sad news regarding Tim ....and then at the end, even that had an uplifting effect when we heard he was better....maybe that was part of the magic......

     Dear friends came together and joined their hearts
     For a weekend of tradition and rhyme....
     We were all blessed by the cowboy spirit
     May it linger on throughout time.

Read more about the 2002 Gathering and its poster poems here.

Read our report on the 2001 Prescott gathering
 

Back to Events page  


Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Lewistown, Montana
August 2002
By Roger Traweek

 

friroger2.JPG (5697 bytes)

The Montana gathering in Lewistown was great.  About 55 poets, mostly Montanans,  stood and delivered for two days nonstop from 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon.  In addition to all of us amateurs Wally McRae, Paul Zarzyski, and Mike Logan were there...and of course that other fellow from New Mexico, I believe.  Now what the heck was his name?  Oh, yes....Baxter Black!  Montana puts on a pretty good show, primarily poetry oriented, although there were some musicians there, too.  I'm a native Montanan transplanted to Oregon, so I'm probably a little partial to their gathering.  That one I will do again...gives me a chance to go visit "The Home Place." 

Photo above of Roger Traweek by Lloyd Shelby, from the August, 2002 Kanab Cowboy Poetry Rodeo.


Cheyenne Cowboy Symposium and Celebration  Cheyenne, Wyoming 
September 2002
By Nona Kelley Carver


Pat McKelvey and her host of volunteers put together a spectacular show for the 2nd Annual Cheyenne Cowboy Symposium & Celebration.  Our Pioneer Heritage was the theme of roundtable discussions at the Wyoming Hereford Ranch to open the event.  Stories of the past century of ranching were shared with Rhonda Stearns serving as moderator.  A BBQ Beef Brisket Dinner
whetted the appetite and pleased the palate of those present.

The Prairie Promenaders square dance club with caller Dave Guille entertained before Emcee John Ingram opened the evening show, "Night at the Opry Barn."  Mayor of Cheyenne, Jack Spiker gave a welcome to those present. Nona Kelley Carver, Circuit Riders, Frank & Peggy Giblin, Terry Henderson, Sid Hausman, Chuck Larsen, Janet McBride, Otto Rosfeld, Prairie Grass, Prairie Twins, The Wallace Family, Washtub Jerry, Annie & Amy Smith and John Wayne impersonator Ermal Williamson were the featured performers.

Friday events at The Holiday Inn included workshops, history, poetry and music.  Jerry Eastman appeared as Bat Masterson, Ermal walked the walk and talked the talk of John Wayne. Janet McBride presented "Ladies of Early Western Music."  Sid Hausman, Otto Rosfeld and Washtub Jerry (now there is a trio to draw to) gave a workshop on "Homemade Music."  Sam Noble, Dick Hart, Andy Nelson, Ed Carpenter, Trey Allen, John Shreve, Lyn & Bruce Messersmith, Keith Rounds, Brenn Hill, Gail Burton, Dick & Jane Morton, Rod Taylor, Jake Fleming, Barry Ward and Bill Stearns & Bill Lowman joined Thursday night's performers for poetry and music throughout the day.  Friday Night Concert was held at the Cheyenne Civic Center with (is he hilarious or what?) Chuck Larsen as Emcee and entertainer.  The Color Guard presented the flags. Sheree Wagner, Mrs. Wyoming, was introduced.  Performers Frank & Peggy Giblin, The Wallace Family, Janet McBride, Prairie Twins, Circuit Riders and Ermal Williamson starred in the evening show.

Saturday's events at the Holiday Inn, added the personalities of Angel Vigil, Ron Duckworth, Devon Dawson, Jim Darden and Ginny Mac to those already listed.  Poetry rang forth, and music floated gently through the air.  Toe tapping tunes reached the hearts of even the most staid audiences.  Saturday's night show with Chuck Larsen again as Emcee featured Prairie Grass, Devon Dawson, Ginny Mac, Jim Darden, Prairie Twins, Barry Ward and Brenn HillWashtub Jerry accompanied many of the music groups.  Rod Taylor stepped in to save the evening when Washtub Jerry's Porshe clutch cable flopped onto his Porshetub like a rooster with its head cut off.  Seems the holding devise that attaches the cable to the top of the P.V. pole had broken.  Wash was quickly ferried back to his hotel for a replacement, and the show did go on!  Ermal Williamson appeared once more as John Wayne, with his patriotic program enhanced by The Prairie Twins singing "God Bless America."

Sunday Morning Cowboy Church was hosted by Sam Noble, who gave the morning message after poets and musicians gave honor to God with their presentations.  The service was closed by the unforgettable sound of Peggy Giblin's playing and singing "How Great Thou Art" as she accompanied herself with her musical saw.

Sunday's Milk Can Dinner preceded the afternoon Concert and Ice Cream Social.  Emcee Wayne Spencer introduced Prairie Grass, Angel Vigil, Sid Hausman, The Wallace Family, Barry Ward, Circuit Riders, Jon Chandler and Ermal Williamson, drawing The Cheyenne Cowboy Symposium & Celebration to a close for another year.

For more information: http://www.cheyennecowboysymposium.com


This article has been submitted to Rope Burns, the publication of the Academy of Western Artists


The National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration   Lubbock, Texas
September 2002


By
Carl Condray  (and below by Linda Kirkpatrick)

Hey gang,

September has flown by and it has been a busy month!  Getting the waterlines wrapped and making sure things are ready for the fall. The deer are putting all they can on before those winter winds start coming down from the plains. As busy as this month has been it sure started off with a bang.   The National Cowboy Symposium completed its fourteenth year during the week of September 5-8th, 2002.  If you weren't there then you missed out on quite a gathering.  The folks up there in Lubbock know how to put it all together. First they start with top-notch entertainers in a great facility, they stir in a whole mess of vendors and craftsmen, gather in some of the best cooks and their chuck wagons , and set out to have a good ole time.  I have not heard a count on attendance but from the sight of things it must be  way up there.

When you walked around the outside pavilions and grounds you were drawn to the sounds of metal ringing and roar of the farrier's forges.  From under the tent you could see hot iron yielding to some of the most skilled hammers and tongs in the country.  Some of the "smiths" traveled from all across the country and beyond even the edge of Texas.  Then the smell of mesquite, oak and pinon' pine smoke drew you to the chuck wagons as the coals were banked up in preparation for the day's cooking.  I loved visiting with the different cooks and trying to catch a hint of there secret recipes.  Some of them I think I had best avoid, as I saw enough peppers to high center a mountain goat lurking behind some of the bean pots.  There were skillets three foot across and spatulas the size of shovels.  There was plenty of coffee around and many an offer was made to sit down and chew a cup.   Inside, the Convention Center was buzzing with all the visitors' perusing the various vendors' tables and going from one session to the next. Many of our Bar-D bards were in attendance.  Ann Sochat held the crowd's attention with many of her poems and tales.  One that no one could pull
loose from was her tale of "Vieja Llorona."  Those of you from around these parts of Texas and the southwest recognize the story of the lonesome ghost of a woman who wanders the night in search of the children she drowned.  Ann wove the tale with verse and song in a way that drew you into her every breath.  It is no surprise that she was the AWA's Female Poet of 2002 and President of the Texas Cowboy Poets Association. I really enjoyed getting to know this awesome Poet.

Pete Davis of the "Middle of Nowhere" Ranch near Junction was also keeping them going.  Pete paid tribute to the Texas Rangers with a poem of the same title.  It won him an Honorary Commission with the Rangers and I would say it was well deserved.  What you see is what you get with Pete and you will like just what that is.  He told of some accounts of "City  Slickers" and the dangers of being a "Guide" on their hunts.  He is truly one of a dying breed, a gentle and Godly man.

There were so many others as well that made it worth coming; Andy Hedges, Rudy Gonzales, Don Lankford, Linda Kirkpatrick and Sam Davis.  All are fine poets by anyone's standards and worthy of a listen.  The Vendors area was hopping and filled with some of the old and a lot of the new.  From spurs to paintings and boots to buckles, it was there for the offering.

Hats off to the founder Alvin Davis and all his gang. This event has hosted the best Poets, Singers, Artist and Writers since it's start back in June of '89 .  Such a fine gathering requires the work of so many caring hands and everyone you meet will show you that the Cowboy Way is alive and well in
Lubbock Texas.  Keep early September of 2003 open and come on out.


Linda Kirkpatrick and Surprise  By Linda Kirkpatrick

The 14th Annual National Cowboy Symposium took place this year on September 5-8 in Lubbock, Texas.  It just keeps getting bigger and better.  This year's show was dedicated to Alvin and Barbara Davis for their effort in directing and producing this great event that honors the American Cowboy and his way of life.  Our congratulations and thanks go out to them.

I was so excited to get to see and hear in person The Sons of the Pioneers. You have to realize that growing up on the ranch we had no television and the radio was poor at best but I managed to hover over the radio and listen to all my favorites such as Roy Rogers,  Gene Autry and the Sons of the Pioneers sing those great old cowboy songs.  The Sons of the Pioneers still have that perfect harmony even though most of the members are not the original ones that I heard on the radio.  They were awarded the American Cowboy Culture Lifetime Achievement Award and bandleader Dale Warren received the individual award for Western Music. These awards were presented on Thursday night.   Guest artists who also appeared with the group were Eli Barsi and Stan Corliss.

The Sons of the Pioneers have performed continuously for 68 years and Dale Warren has led the group for fifty years.

There were many other special events.  Such as the Fiddlers Contest and anyone entering the building on Saturday could hear the fiddlers young and old warming up for the contest.  That was entertainment in itself.  There was also the Longhorn Cattle Show, Farriers Association presentation, Parade of the Horse, Trail Ride, dances, Chuck Wagon Cookoffs, horse trainer Craig Cameron, vendors and many other exhibits. 

The real draw though was the poets, musicians, storytellers, and historians who presented great performances for all fans of the old west.  Needless to say cowboypoetry.com was well represented there also.  I had fully intended to photograph all of you from cowboypoetry.com but..what is that quote, "the best laid plans of mice and men."  I did get to meet a few of you who I had never met in person and I hope to meet the rest of you at a later date. Some poets there included Diane Thompson, Rudy Gonzales, Ray Owens, Jay Snider, Ann Sochat, Charles Williams, Gail Burton, Andy Hedges, Barbara Bockelman, Scott Bumgardner, Dennis Gaines, Larry Maurice, Jeff Hildebrandt, and Jim Hoy.

I shared the stage Saturday at 9:00 with Wayne Thompson (emcee) from Lamesa, Texas, Bill McCallie from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Les Thorton of Amarillo, Texas. At 3:00 I was in a story telling session with Trey Allen of Hooker Oklahoma the emcee and Pete Davis of London, Texas.  Now there is a funny story here. I have known Pete for a few years now and we were talking and waiting for the emcee well all of a sudden this guy blows in and looks at me and says can you start this I have lost my daughter and I need to find her.  So I took over and Pete and I started telling tales and it just got wilder and wilder.  Pete was crawling around on the floor pretending he was on a plane and he was hunting his pet rattle snake.  I told the story about the McLaurins then the real emcee showed and it even got wilder!!  He did find his daughter, she had gone to the wrong bath room and just got lost but all was well.  Pete and Trey were really funny and the room was full.  I told my hummingbird and panther story and the two people from Boston on the front row didn't know what to think.  They told Pete and I that they were sure we were from Texas because we used the word "fixin" numerous times.  Pete said that his mom had a masters degree and she used the word "tump" until the day she died!

At 1:00 Frank Roberts, Joe Wells and I (Cowboy Sunset Serenade) performed with Chuck Milner of Cheyenne Ok., Bob Miller of Denton, Texas and Leon Autrey of Elida, NM.  At 5 we were on with Paul Davidson of Levelland, Texas and Michael Johnson of Idabel Ok.

We always enjoy visiting with our musician friends, Jean Prescott, Washtub Jerry, Judy James, Jeff Gore, Jimmy Northcutt, Glen Moreland, and Tom Taylor.

Everyone mark your calendars for the next National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Texas!!  Hope to see you there!


Annual Gila Valley Cowboy Poetry & Music Roundup  Safford, Arizona
September 2002
By Byrd Woodward  


Gila Valley Arts Council's Ninth Annual Cowboy Poetry and Music RoundUp

The weather was beautiful, the community was most gracious and the poets and musicians were talented and enthusiastic in their performances the weekend of September 20-22, 2002 in Safford, AZ.

What more can you ask?...how about a lot fun and laughter, friendship and fellowship, good food and a terrific volunteer staff to run the whole she-bang!  That's certainly what was served up to audiences and entertainers alike last weekend in Safford...which is southeast of Phoenix about 150
miles, not far from the New Mexico border.

Poets and musicians from Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, as well as talented local folks, participated on Friday night at a wonderful outdoor venue on the Fairgrounds...in fact, in a gazebo surrounded by a small artificial lake that's used to irrigate the nearby picnic grounds and ball fields...the facility really shows a lot of pride in the community as it was mostly built by volunteers with donated materials.

Saturday there were all day programs in the air conditioned Ag Building there at the Fairgrounds that featured just three performers per session. The Saturday night concert was held on the college campus in Thatcher at the Little Theater, a very fine venue with plush stadium seating, excellent
lighting and backstage facilities.  Performers included some pretty well-known folks including Tom Weathers, who was the emcee for the evening and performed as well, poet Peggy Godfrey, Liz Masterson and Sean Blackburn with their music and comedy, singer/songwriter Kip Callahan, and the wonderful Apache songwriter/musician and comedian, Boe TitlaSuzi Killman, with Sally Bates singing harmony, Joette Conley and her mom, and Dolan Ellis, Arizona's official Balladeer, all sang and played; poets performing included Jane Morton, Larry Harmer and Henry Torres.

And me!.this was my first ever featured evening performance and I actually was able to memorize a couple of my own poems. once it's out I have an awful time trying to force this stuff back into my head!  I still stood behind a podium and had my notes in front of me..I guess it's kind of like sucking
your thumb..it's not absolutely necessary but you feel better knowing it's there!

I hadn't ever had the chance to sit down and visit with Peggy Godfrey...she's one of the first women I ever knew of who writes cowboy poetry and one of my heroes...in Safford I got to spend time in the green room with her and my friend, Jane Morton, talking about current conditions in Colorado as well as the difficulties facing ranchers today here in the American Outback.  One of
the things we agreed on is that most members of the US Congress apparently don't understand that the country actually includes land and issues that extend beyond the Northeast and Washington, D C!...there was a lot of insightful conversation, especially regarding water and the lack of it, during the entire weekend...Kip Callahan's husband is the manager of the huge Gray Ranch in southwestern New Mexico..

I'm rambling...all in all it was more of the usual gathering fare...so much fun and seeing old and meeting new friends...I know we all comment about this a lot but I don't think there are many groups of people in this country who meet for the first time and seem like old friends almost immediately...that happens every time Woody and I attend a gathering and it's one of the best
parts of being involved in Cowboy Poetry...folks have often said to me, "you shoulda started performing sooner!"..but maybe earlier in my life I wouldn't have appreciated that aspect nearly as much as I do at this point...it's an unexpected and treasured blessing...


Cowboy Poets of Wind River Gathering Riverton, Wyoming
September, 2002
By Jean Mathisen


We had the Gathering at the Riverton Livestock Auction Barn, which is a great (and somewhat appropriate!) place for cowboy poets to get together. We had free open mic sessions both Friday and Saturday and programs on both Friday and Saturday evenings with several performers highlighted.  During the Gathering we also formed the "Cowboy Poets of Wind River" Association
which anyone interested in performing cowboy poetry, music or would just like to be a supporter is welcome to join.  Many of us are already members of Cowboy Poets of Idaho and we were greatly supported by their attendance and participation at this Gathering.

 


Spencer Busch and his father


One of the highlights of the Friday evening show was nine year old Spencer Busch of Riverton, who is a fiddling champion and who plays just about any song anyone could think of--he also recited the story of Cinderella backwards ("Rindercella").  Other performers included Layle Bagley of Rexburg, Idaho; Terry Henderson of Shawnee, Wyoming; Gene Shea of Hanna, Wyoming; the Heritage Singers of Rexburg, Idaho; me--
Jean Mathisen of Lander, Wyoming; "Mountain Music"--Lynne Hendrickson and Ray Bowlsby of Lander, Wyoming; Verlin Pitt and his brother Rick Pitt of Lander (we sort of hogged the show--ha!); Dave Tingey of Grace, Idaho; Wayne Nelson of American
Falls, Idaho; the "Wyoming Reds"; Don Kennington of Ogden, Utah (he was as hilarious as usual) and Gene and Sandy Jones--"Badwater Cattle Company" of Malad, Idaho.   In addition to the Gathering there was also a barbecue on Friday evening and an Art Show featuring some great western art.


Lynne Hendrickson and Ray Bowlsby of Lander

 


Gene and Sandy Jones of Badwater Cattle Co.


If anyone is interested in joining the "Cowboy Poets of Wind River", dues are $20 per year.  Gardland Kennington of Riverton, Wyoming is the new president of the group but I don't have his e-mail address.  If anyone is interested, they may contact me at jmathisen@rmisp.com  (I am serving on the Board of Directors as one of the reps for Fremont and Hot Springs Counties in Wyoming.


Linda Meller and Willa Bagley of the Heritage Singers

 


13 year old Cody Bannion




Eighth Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering at the State Fair  
Dallas, Texas
October, 2002
Linda Kirkpatrick and Surprise  
By
Linda Kirkpatrick

I will never forget the time when I was in the fourth grade and my mother got to go to the State Fair of Texas.  At that time I got to stay at home and go to school.  It had seemed like a very important place to go and I decided that I was going there one day.  It took several years to make it but this year I was invited along with Frank Roberts and Joe Wells (Cowboy Sunset Serenade) to perform at the 8th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering at the State Fair of Texas .  It was an exciting time.

The Agriculture Building housed the gathering along with various booths of agriculture products.  This building was in the shade of the Cotton Bowl. And of course there were so many things to see and so little time.  I didn't even make it to the livestock barns.  And missed the Border Collie performances but since they were on the same time as myself I figured that I had best get myself on stage!  I strolled through one area of vendors and visited with Buck Taylor at his western art booth.

The performers at this years gathering were Cowboy Sunset Serenade, Francine Robison, Billy Joe Rogers, Edward Southerland, Jim Tanner, Tom Hanshew and the Wallace Family.  We all had a great time and enjoyed performing to very receptive audiences.    But I think we were all a little in awe when the Wallace Family walked on stage.  These five kids and their dad really put on a show and I hope all of you remember their name because you really need to see them if they ever are in your area.

A great big thanks to Vee and Charles Williams for finding free parking for us and then shuttling all the performers right up to the door of the Agriculture Building.  It sure saved all of us a lot of time and money!!

Make sure to add the State Fair of Texas to your planner for next year!


14th Annual Durango Cowboy Gathering
Durango, Colorado 
October, 2002

By Trey Allen

Unequaled in Old West grandeur, the Strater Hotel, located in downtown Durango, played host to the 14th Annual Durango Cowboy Gathering.  The weekend kicked off with a concert by Don Edwards on Thursday evening. Although the weather was somewhat damp and more than a "touch" cool, the
event was a smash and set the mood for one of the finest gatherings southwest Colorado has ever seen.  The same evening also experienced a kick-off jam session and chili supper hosted by Sam and Tanna Noble of the Durango area.  Whether in attendance of the concert, jam session or both, one might have thought it couldn't get any better but that couldn't have been further from right.

The roster of entertainers may have read like a Who's Who (or Rogues Gallery depending on how well you know some of them) of cowboy poets and musicians from across the west.  Nebraska was represented by the talents of Rick Buoy, Otto Rossfeld and the Carr Family.  Arizona sent some of her favorites like Neill and Mary Abbott, Dan and Carole Jarvis, Shag Reimer and Larry Harmer.  Texas sent some of her best as well with Jeff Gore and Company, Palo Duro and Paul Davidson in attendance.  Sam DeLeeuw and Don Kennington, both of Utah, are sure to please anywhere they go (and please they did).  North Dakota, Montana and Oklahoma sent the likes of Bill Lowman, Ken Overcast and
Trey Allen respectively (and respectfully).  With Tony Brooks and Jr. Gomez, New Mexico stood proud.  Coloradoans, last but not least, rounded out the list.  Gary Knighting, Dwight Linkhart, Larry Glen, Sam Noble and "Dirty" Don Hinkley performed with a beauty and diversity that few states could match.

Friday morning found almost all of these entertainers in local schools and nursing homes.  Schools throughout the Durango area encouraged all of their students to write a poem and submit it to the gathering.  The reward for the kids' efforts was a Saturday morning session wherein they recited their work (some should be traveling before long).  A theme common to all cowboy gatherings is to "preserve and record" the cowboy way of life, Durango has done an excellent job in this respect by involving the schools and communities around.  Saturday saw more activities than could be taken in; a motorless parade, art gallery exhibits/receptions, match horse races and of course daytime theme sessions.  (If you saw it all you were superhuman) The highlight of the theme sessions was the poster poem session.  Each year the gathering Board of Directors selects a painting to used in all of the Gathering advertisement.  An 8x10 print of the painting is then sent to all of the performers who can then write a poem or song about the picture as they see it from their perspective.  Nearly all of the performers participated in this session and rest assured no two writers saw the same picture.  To say the least, the daytime activities Friday and Saturday were some of the best.

The evening shows were also no less than spectacular.  The music of Palo Duro, Ken Overcast and Jeff Gore (accompanied by Marty and Wesley Reid) was intermingled with the poems, stories and various "improved truths" of Bill Lowman, Mary Abbott, Rick Buoy and
Trey AllenNeill Abbott was blessed (or burdened) with the task of emceeing these shows and did a wonderful job. The crowds were to capacity and everyone went away commenting that the shows were some of the best the gathering has ever had.  The Gathering also presented its first scholarship to Heather Hormell, a Durango High School graduate, during the Saturday evening show.

Sam Noble and Jeff Gore led a Cowboy and His Creator worship service on Sunday morning as a finale to weekends' activities.  Many performers who shared the testimony and experience of their lives through poetry and music attended the service.  No one came away without a renewed sense of the role our Lord plays in the lives of every cowboy.

Thanks and praise goes to all of people of Durango for such a wonderful gathering.  Through the drought and fire of this past summer the residents pulled together to share in what some say is a dying way of life.  But those who attended the 14th Annual Durango Cowboy Gathering know without doubt that the cowboy way of life is alive and well. Be sure to put Durango on your list of gatherings to attend  in the coming years.


  A postscript by Jim Anderson of Palo Duro:

We read the comments of Trey Allen about Durango and appreciated his kind words, he understated a couple of things though. First, there is no possible way to describe the crowds there; knowledgeable, appreciative, and enthusiastic, just fall short. Second, Trey was in the best form I have ever seen him, he is too modest to say he took no prisoners, so I will, he took no prisoners, great show!


Old West Days Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Valentine, Nebraska
October, 2002

by Charlie Hunt

Charlie Hunt was kind to let us excerpt the following report from his weekly Scenes from the Saddle column.

We've been enjoyin' Charlie's dazzlin' new book: 

allhorses.jpg (40965 bytes)  All the Horses That He'd Rode, with poetry by South Dakota's Charlie Hunt, inspired by artist Daryl Poulin's original art. The book is a treat for the eyes and the mind, a wonder of collaboration. Winner of the South Dakota Reading Council's Laura Ingalls Wilder Author Award, the book has had rave reviews in many publications, includin' Western Horseman and Cowboy Magazine. You can read more about it at the publisher's site and at Amazon


"... We spent the week-end in Valentine, Nebraska at their Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old
West Days. The Nebraska Humanities Council was behind this event and it was a great gathering.

... We had a great time.  A lot of old friends were on the program, folks like Ken Raba, Marty Blocker, Dennis Fischer, Willard Hollopeter and the inimitable Yvonne Hollenbeck.

We'd shared the stage with the 4-L's (Dan and Lyndall Foral) at the Buffalo Round-up the week-end before and they were also in Valentine doing their usual great job.

Some new performers I met when I was on the Saturday evening program were The Vintage Cowboys from Colorado and "Buckshot Dot" from Arizona.  I'd not heard them before.  They were great!!!!

The Vintage Cowboys are Ken Swick and Ted Johns from Wyoming. They've been a duo since 1999, playing some of the big dates with some of the big names.  They put out some dandy music that had the overflow crowd grinning and keeping time.

I do mean overflow crowd.  The theatre is pretty good sized but that morning I heard Mary Mulligan say they had only 8 tickets left.  I think they must have sold those 8 to about 50 people because there were folding chairs against the walls and folks sitting on the floor.  It was a great crowd of folks who like "cowboy."

"Buckshot Dot" is a lady whose last name is Johnson.  She was raised on the Hualapai and Navajo reservations and the Petrified Forest National Monument.  She's got a string of honors longer than an arena fence... I came home with one of her books of poetry and two of her tapes.  She does a song
called "Old Hank Morgan's Place" that is one of the finest things I've ever heard.  I'd like to have it on a continuous tape so I could just listen to it without interruption.

Another poet that I really enjoyed (actually I enjoyed most of them, but some were more enjoyable than others) was Jack Ostergaard who ranches in the Sandhills.  He was featured on the Friday evening program and was a real crowd pleaser.

Also featured on Friday night was Jill Jones from Texas who sang and yodeled with "The Lone Star Chorale" and really had the folks stamping their feet and clapping their hands.

There were a lot of booths for folks to see Western "stuff" ranging from carved rocks to saddle and quilts...Downtown they had their annual Western Parade... It was pretty good sized and didn't have anything in it that wasn't run by "horse power" - and I mean HORSE power.

There were a lot of entrants including a few buggies and a stage coach in addition to those in the saddle.  These riders ranged from tots on ponies to oldsters on well worn saddles.  It was "Old West" and "Cowboy."

... Over at the sales barn they were selling a couple hundred head of Longhorn cattle.  That added to the authenticity.

Sunday morning the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys had services in three local churches (most of whom then had a dinner) and a breakfast at the Johnny Bush ranch for a trail ride.

Favorite Wife and I drove 16 miles south to the ranch and dug into a dandy cowboy breakfast before the short service.  As a part of this service, folks were invited to come up and say a poem or two that might fit in.  After listening to some of the good ones Favorite Wife I suggested one that I ought to do.

It has a good message and seemed logical so I went forward and in three verses got lost four times so I just blushed and walked back feeling like I'd just been bucked off in front of friends.

The trail ride sounded great.  It was along and in the Niobrara River with the leaves turning.  Someone even invited me to use his spare horse.  That was a real temptation but I knew how far our home place was and what was scheduled for me here, so I declined.  That hurt!

Thanks to all you wonderful folks in Nebraska.


Hay Harvest West Campaign
Kamloops, BC
October, 2002

  
by Mike Puhallo

Honored Guest Mike Puhallo shared this press release from the  BC Cowboy Heritage Society (BCCHS) about Canada's first Fundraising Concert for the Hay Harvest West Campaign, October 3, 2002 in Kamloops. (Read much more on the BCCHS site here).

The BC Cowboy Heritage Society and Calvary Temple Church hosted Western
Canada's first Fundraising Concert for the Hay Harvest West Campaign October
3, 2002 in Kamloops. An enthusiastic crowd enjoyed a great performance of
western music, cowboy poetry, folk and country, from nine of BC best home
grown artists.

The entire performance was taped and recorded and will be available very
soon as a CD and Video. Don Shook Productions of Clearwater and Tripod Video
of Kelowna donated their time and camera crews to film the event, which may
be televised as well.

All funds raised go to help relieve the plight of western farmers and
ranchers plagued by the ongoing drought. There are major concerts scheduled
for Calgary and Edmonton over the Thanks giving weekend in support of this
effort.

The BC cowboy Heritage Society is grateful to the performers and sponsors
that helped make our fundraising efforts such a success.

The performers included Williams Lake's own Frank Gleeson, Lynn Shook and
Matt Johnston from Clearwater, Butch Falk, Kraig Johdrey, Roxanne Hall and
Mike Puhallo from Kamloops, Dave Longworth from Logan Lake and Danny Mack
who made the journey up from Vancouver to donate his time.

Sponsors included; BDO Dunwoodie, Gilbert Smith Forest Products, Calvary
Temple Church, Wayne Wickens, The Horse Barn and the BC Cowboy Heritage
Society.

To order Video or CD copies of the show folks can email cowboys@bcchs.com

Write to BCCHS box 137 Kamloops BC V2C 5K3 or phone 1-888-763-2224

 Read much more on the BCCHS site here.


Clinton Cowboy Poetry Contest
Clinton, BC
October, 2002

by Clare Warner

Clinton, BC - October 29, 2002.  The Clinton Cowboy Poetry Contest wound up its fourth year with a dinner - prepared by the 4-H Clinton Beef Club - and evening of entertainment on October 19th.

The results of the Poetry Contest were announced during the evening's events. Doris Bircham of Piapot, Saskatchewan was awarded 1st prize for her poem, "Hi, Dad!" and Ron Lambert of Saanichton BC won the $150 2nd prize for "The Stone Fence."

Winners of Honorables Mentions ($75 each) were Gary E. Miller of Richmond, Ontario for his poem "Best Bar None" and - again - Doris Bircham for "Teamwork."

Poems were judged anonymously by a committee of three. In 2002 the judges included well known cowboy poet
Mike Puhallo; Anne McKague, a Clinton high school English teacher; and Bob Irwin, a retired local rancher.

Contest organizers say the contest was the most successful to date, with entries coming in from across Canada as well as the United States.

Cowboy poet Mike Puhallo was Master of Ceremonies for the evening and singer/songwriter Matt Johnston and yodeller Herb Keim entertained the crowd.

Poetry contest winner Ron Lambert travelled from Saanichton to read his poem and to perform his songs for the event. 

The Clinton Cowboy Poetry Committee says the next Contest will likely be announced in the early spring of 2003.




Betty Anderson, a cowboy poet from Williams
Lake, with her husband Wilf. Mike Puhallo, who was MC for the event, is on
the right. Betty Anderson says her poems are inspired by Wilf's real life
tales of cowboying.

Folks enjoying the 4-H beef dinner that preceded the entertainment.

The Clinton Cowboy Poetry Contest e-mail address is cowboypoetry@excite.com


National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame  "Halloween on the Chisholm Trail" 
Fort Worth, Texas
October, 2002

  
by Debra Coppinger Hill 

GHOST STORIES ENTHRALL COWGIRL HALL OF FAME AUDIENCE

A standing room only crowd at the
National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Ft. Worth, TX was enthralled by an evening of ghost and supernatural poems and stories presented by "Voices on the Western Wind" on Tuesday, October 29th.  "Voices on the Western Wind," made up of Debra Coppinger Hill, Charles Williams and Tim Graham, alternated traditional poems, original poetry, stories and songs to present an evening full of thrills, chills and even a chuckle or two.  In keeping with the theme of the program, entitled, "Halloween on the Chisholm Trail," poems such as "Tall Men Riding" (S. Omar Barker), "Echoes in The Canyon" (Debra C. Hill) and "Saddles" (Charles Williams) were interspersed with other original works and such traditional ghost stories as the Texas Headless Horseman and Stampede Mesa.  The trio closed the program with the old Marty Robbins favorite, "The Master's Call."


"This was wonderful!," commented Lisa Davis, the Director of Special Programs for the Cowgirl Hall Of Fame.  "We didn't know what to expect, but the program and the crowd exceeded our hopes."  The museum, located in Ft. Worth's Cultural District, has initiated a series of special events on Tuesday nights, including old Western movies and guest lectures.  "This is the first time we've tried Cowboy poetry," Ms. Davis continued, "But it certainly won't be the last.  We are looking forward to doing this again."


Storyfest George West, Texas
November, 2002
Linda Kirkpatrick and Surprise  
By
Linda Kirkpatrick
Photos by Mary Jane Crenshaw

True to tradition and in spite of the rain, George West Storyfest occurred. The rain hindered many of the vendors but the storytellers and poets spoke to packed tents. Now was it because they were so good or because the three large tents were out of the rain? I believe that it was because the
entertainment provided by the musicians, storytellers and cowboy poets was superb!

Lloyd Shelby kicked off the poetry session with, of all poems, Rainman! "Rainman" was followed by several of his other great poems and the favorite Badger Clark poem, Bad Half Hour with a whistled version of "Annie Laurie" in between stanzas.

    
Lloyd Shelby
photos by Mary Jane Crenshaw

Dennis Gaines followed Lloyd with several of his hilarious pieces and a serious poem or two. Dennis is so entertaining, no matter how many times one sees him. 

 
Dennis Gaines
photos by Mary Jane Crenshaw

I also got to meet and hear another poet that I had not heard before, Mel Railey. The minute he started reciting you knew that he was reciting from the heart, cowboy incidences that he had experienced. He had a very touching poem about vaqueros and a humorous one dedicated to vegetarians. All three poets were well worth the drive in the rain to hear!


Mel Railey
photos by Mary Jane Crenshaw


I plan to return next year and hope to recite a poem or two myself. Hopefully the weather will be better. Make sure and add the first weekend in November to your calendar and attend the George West Storyfest.


3rd Annual Grand Canyon Hole in the Ground Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering
Tusayan, Arizona
November, 2002
  
By
Jane Morton

In the midst of a  beautiful forest setting one mile from the south entrance to the Grand Canyon, Buck Schrader capably herded a fine group of cowboy poets and musicians through a fun-filled weekend.

Daytime sessions started at noon, so guests and performers had mornings free to enjoy the canyon, visit local businesses, or explore the area.  A twenty-mile drive took us to the Canyon rim where we got out of our car and "walked to the edge for a peek" before the afternoon performances.

Since busloads of tourists from foreign countries were staying at Tusayan, the whole gathering had an international flavor.  Even though some of the tourists didn't speak much English, they had heard of the cowboys, and they wanted to have their pictures taken with anyone, it seemed, wearing
a cowboy hat.    

Highlights of the gathering were the Friday and Saturday night dinner shows in the Canyon Star Restaurant located in the Grand Hotel.  Ross Knox hosted the Friday night show which included performers Kip Calahan, Carol Jarvis and Dan Jarvis, Jon Messenger, Way Out West, Bud Strom, and Buck's Bunch.

Tom Weathers played host Saturday evening for another outstanding show that included performers Buckshot Dot, Ross Knox, Robert Ryan Van, Roughstring, Larry McWhorter, Jim Dunham, and Ken and Lynne Mikells.

The Saturday night performers played to a group of educators from Chile. They were enjoying the performers, but when couples started dancing to the cowboy music on the dance floor in front of the stage, the Chileans turned their chairs around to watch.  They seemed particularly intent on the feet
of the dancers and looked as if they were trying to memorize the steps. The girls looked thrilled when cowboys coaxed them out onto the dance floor. No doubt they took those memories home with them. Then when Ken Mikells sang one of his songs in Spanish, the audience responded with smiles and applause.

In daytime sessions as well as in the night shows the poets and the musicians made us laugh, and they made us cry.  They shared their love of the West and the Western way and set a high standard with their material and their presentations. Daytime performers, Sandy Marola, Ron Brinegar, Sid
Hausman
, Ty Schrader, Dean Cook, Dick Morton, Bill Schrader, Lon Austin, Jane Morton, Mike Dunn, and Texas Rose, along with the night show people performed at the Grand Hotel, Best Western Squire Inn, The Quality Inn, The Red Feather Lodge, and the Holiday Inn Express.

One of the best things about the gathering was that the performers were staying in close proximity at village motels and eating meals at about the same time at the Canyon Star Restaurant, so we all had a chance to get to know each other better than we had before. The gathering fostered a great
sense of camaraderie and togetherness and made an already wonderful gathering even more so.


Egypt Plantation Days  Egypt, Texas
November, 2002
Linda Kirkpatrick and Surprise  
By
Linda Kirkpatrick
Photos by Mary Jane Crenshaw

Next time you want to impress your friends, tell them you are taking a trip to Egypt.  Egypt, Texas that is! The Egypt Plantation Days were celebrated November 9th and 10th at the Northington Plantation in Egypt, Texas.

Cowboy poets Lloyd Shelby and Linda Kirkpatrick were a part of the many performers, chuck wagon cooks and rein-actors that entertained the visitors at this pre-civil war plantation.

 Performances by Lloyd, Linda and the musicians began Saturday afternoon on the back porch of the Antique Mall. 


Linda Kirkpatrick reciting at the Egypt Plantation Mall Back Porch


Lloyd Shelby reciting at the Egypt Plantation Mall Back porch

Saturday evening, the two poets recited at the Reconstruction Ball while gents and their ladies paraded and danced in period correct clothing and gowns. 

    
Lloyd Shelby reciting at the Egypt Plantation Reconstruction Ball


Linda Kirkpatrick reciting at the Egypt Plantation Reconstruction Ball

The Sunday morning church service was held on the front lawn of the Northington Plantation Home. Lloyd participated in the service along with members representing the local churches. Sunday afternoon poets and musicians performed again on the back porch of the mall before the fun filled weekend came to a close.


Linda Kirkpatrick and Lloyd Shelby enjoying listening to singer Grady Lee at
the chuck wagon of Cat Claw Rose

Linda and Mary Jane Crenshaw were guests of Anita Northington in the plantation main house. What a wonderful place to stay! The furniture has been in the family for many years and it is even rumored that a Confederate soldier, who died in the house, still haunts it today. Sally Skull, known to have worn two six-shooters and a sunbonnet, also spent time in the area around the 1850's. The home is open for tours but check the web site for times.

Lloyd was a guest at the historical Shanghai Pierce Ranch. The ranch is not far from Egypt and an ideal place for Lloyd to gather bits of historical information for upcoming poems. Cattle baron, Shanghai Pierce, founded the ranch in the early 1800's.

Read about the Northington Plantation at www.egyptplantation1.com/ and Shanghai Pierce at www.karankaw.com/his.htm . Keep a close eye on the events calendar listed at this site for next year's Egypt Plantation Days.


Ninth Annual Gilbert Days Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, Gilbert, Arizona
November, 2002


By Mike Dunn

Saturday November 23rd, 2002, the 9th Annual Gilbert Days Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering was held in celebration of Gilbert Days Rodeo.  This is the 4th year it has been sponsored by the Friends of the Southeast Regional Library. Hosted by Cowboy Poet Rolf Flake (Gilbert, Az) who is the man behind the entire event.  He shared some favorites and then introduced Jim Dunham (Prescott, Az) and his sister Suzie Killman (Wickenburg, Az).  Their selections, both old and new, more than pleased the listeners.  I think of it as the ol' cowboy being accompanied by the voice of an angel.  Next came cowboy poets Mike Dunn (Mesa, Az) and Ray Owens (New Mexico).  It seemed the evening was going by too fast.  Ray moved the audience with a special poem that told the story of a small pair of hand-me-down boots and another about his two granddaughters.  The evening finished up with the traditional cowboy & western music of the Due West Trio (all four of them) out of Tucson Az. At the end of the show, the audience was not ready to leave, so Rolf shared another poem and the Due West did an encore.  Due to the increasing numbers, the plan for next year is to hold two sessions.  A good evening for all.


Western Music Association 14th Annual International Western Music Festival   Las Vegas, Nevada
November, 2002
by Kathy Camden

Viva Las Vegas
November 13-17, 2002
Western Music Association National Award Show

Charlie and I woke up early and chompin' at the bit. Today was the day we were off for Las Vegas and the Western Music Assn. Award Show. Since we were driving and needed to be there on November the 13, it was early on the 12th when we pulled out of Nezperce, ID, a short 927 miles from our house to Las Vegas.  Arriving at Sam's Town was an eye-opener.  Our entire town of
Nezperce would fit in one casino.  We checked into the Hotel, and almost immediately found Mickey Dawes, President of the WMA.

He gave Charlie the 20-page script for the Awards show for Thursday Night. Charlie about passed out.  All he could say was "I'll never learn all of this in a few hours."  Considerable relief came when Mickey said, "we'll just put the script on the podium and read it as we go.  After seemingly walking for miles, we finally got the luggage into the room, changed from traveling clothes to more Duded up ones.  The VIP dinner was held on Wednesday the 13, With lots of good entertainment and great jam sessions to follow.  Bodie Dominguez and his wife Richette had flown down on the previous Saturday, and would meet us here today. Bodie Dominguez and Charlie Camden comprise the
new group "Dos Amigos."   Later in the week on Friday after the general meeting they would present a new song called "Fore the Coming of the Wire." 

Well, to back track: The VIP evening was great, with Chick Bishop, who is head of the Cowboys against Cancer, one of the many who spoke. Thursday morning it was up early for breakfast and coffee with friends from Montana, TJ Casey and his wife Marcie.  We spent the rest of the day around the vendor booths and listening to a wide variety of performers.  They were performing in four locations around the casino at the same time. some of the performers were, New Pioneers, Troy Bateson, Eddy Harrison, Kip Callahan, Rino Elverhoy, TJ Casey, Belinda Gail, Open Range, Michael Montana, Prairie Twins, Rick Felix, Saddle Tramps, Judy Coder, Joni Harms, Devon Dawson "known as Miss Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl," Hot Club of Cowtown, Brenn Hill, Asleep at the Wheel, Donnie Blanz, Barry Ward, Washtub Jerry & Glen Moreland, KG and the Ranger, Janet McBride and John Ingram, Curly Jim Musgrave, Annie and Amy Smith, Janet Bailey, Terri and Steve Taylor, and Bow Willow, just to name a few of the people and groups who were there.

The hours were counting down for the Awards Show which was set to start at 7:00 PM.  Mickey Dawes, President of the WMA,  and Charlie Camden are co-hosts at this years Extravaganza.  The show was held at Sam's Town Live Theatre, with giant video screens on both sides of the stage.    The Prairie Rose Wranglers opened the show.  What a talented group. They are part of the
Western Onslaught going to Carnegie Hall along with Joni Harms, Barry Ward, Sons of the San Joaquin, Waddie Mitchell, Mickey Dawes, Roy Rogers Jr., and Johnny Western on May 30th, 2003.  What a show that will be.  If you can be there, please do so to help promote Western Music.

Well on with the show, Mickey Dawes opens the show and introduces Charlie Camden.  The first set of Awards are The Western Way Awards.  This is an Award which is presented to deserving individuals who work tirelessly in their efforts to promote Western Culture.  This year there were four Awards given.  Those receiving this award were:  Sherry Bond, Joel Dortch, Dr. Walter Bishop, and Thomas Etheredge.

After acceptance speeches by the recipients, it was time for a musical performance.  What a treat!   Annie and Amy Smith, what great harmony these twins do.  They have performed on Good Morning America, as well as the Inauguration of President Bush, 

After their performance the show continued with the presentation of the Bill Wiley Awards.  Bill Wiley was the founder of the Western Music Association. This Award is given to non performing members of the AWA who have made significant contributions to our art form, and Organization.  This Year the Award was given to Fred Goodwin.

The next Award was for Traditional Western Duo or Group of the year.  And the winner was Sons of the San Joaquin.

The next Award was for Western Swing Duo/Group of the year and the winner was: Hot Club of Cowtown.

The next Award was for Instrumentalist of the year and this award was taken away by Joey the Cowpolka King, of Riders in the Sky.

The Song of the year was the next Award given, it went to Janet McBride for her song WYOMING ROSE.

Next came the Award to Songwriter of the Year, and it went to Curly Jim Musgrave.

The next Award was given for Traditional Western Album.  This Award went to the Riders in the Sky.  This year the Awards Show was dedicated to The Riders in the Sky for 25 Years in Western Music.

The next Award was for Western Swing Album of the year.   The winner was: TEXAS TRAILHANDS

The Crescendo Award is next on the list of Awards and the winner this year was:  HOT CLUB OF COWTOWN

Now comes the next set of Awards for Male and Female Performer of the Year. The winners were:  Curly Jim Musgrave, and Belinda Gail.  Mr. Buzz Marcus from Taylor Guitars presented both performers with a special edition Taylor Guitar.  Both guitars featured inlayed running wild horses on the necks. Hints of tears were seen on the face of an unnamed man that I consider a dear friend.

Next came the last award for the evening.  The Big One.  "Entertainer of the Year"  and the winner was:  Riders in The Sky.

Other Entertainers and presenters appearing on the Stage were:

Joni Harms who sang the National Anthem, and a selection from her current album.

Brenn Hill, from his Album "Call you Cowboy" he dedicates the song to Charlie Camden.

Dr. Walter Bishop, Thomas Etheredge, Annie and Amy Smith, Mary Brown, Donnie
Blanz
, Johnny Western, Terri Taylor, Sheriff Jim Wilson and Kip Callahan, Devon Dawson of Texas Trailhands, Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel, Jeff Hildebrandt, the Managing Producer
of the Encore Westerns Channel, Riders in the Sky, The Prairie Rose Wranglers (Stu, Orrin, and Jim), Mickey Dawes, and Charlie Camden.

Barry Ward sang his new song, yet unreleased.

I hope that I didn't omit anyone.

What a show. it was well organized, and ran as smooth as silk, I sure am looking forward to next year.

We stayed the next day, collected some CD's for the Radio Show "Western Heritage Show" KRLC 1350 AM in Lewiston, ID.

Wave some great new material for the show. Charlie and Bodie presented their new song "Fore the Coming of the Wire" on Friday Morning at a new Song Showcase for Writers, Performers, and recording studios.

We went to the roast for the Riders In The Sky on Friday evening then headed home, The festivities would continue until Sunday but we have animals to take care of and need to run.  Charlie said it was a fantastic experience, one to be savored and remembered with smiles.  Our sincere thanks to Mickey Dawes, and the Board of Directors for doing a terrific job.  Looking forward to seeing everyone again soon.  

Our Lewis/Clark Show is coming up in just over 2 months.  If you have a CD you wish to have played on the Radio, send it to:   Charlie Camden/Western Heritage Show; PO Box 208; NezPerce, Id.  83543.


Michael Martin Murphey's Cowboy Christmas Ball  Anson, Texas
December, 2002
  
By Carl Condray 

"That Lively Gaited Sworray" has once again come and gone in the West Texas town of Anson.  Of Course I am speaking of the "Cowboy Christmas Ball."  This event has been, more or less, an annual occurrence since 1885 and has been the topic of countless poems and songs, perhaps none more famous than Larry Chittendens "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball." As this vivid account is the granddaddy of all the "Christmas Ball" poems this annual event is the granddaddy of all the cowboy Christmas dances.


Carl and Jan by the Pioneer Hall Christmas Tree

Anson TX. is the county seat of Jones county.  Originally named Fort Phantom Hill it was later renamed in honor of Anson Jones, last president of the Republic of Texas.  This town has hosted the dance ever since M. G. Rhoads initiated the event at his Star Hotel.  It has since found its home
in the Pioneer Hall, which was built as a CCC or WPA project during the depression.  It is a rustic hall and is filled to the brim each night of the three-day event. In fact this is the only three days that dancing is allowed in Anson by order of the city by-laws.  It is this event that brings back to
life the tradition and sounds of the old west and the wooden dance floor comes to life as the dance unfolds.


Jan and one of the the Dance Association workers in her period dress

The dress is authentic and the atmosphere lively.  You will find many families enjoying this as a part of the Christmas holidays.  Children of all ages are seen scootin boots to rhythms from the classic songs.  Michael Martin Murphy has been the featured act for at least the past 10 years and takes part in the Grand Entry March.  In fact most of the 850 ticket holders get out on the floor to "kick off" this dance each night.  There are also benches available, if you get there early enough to stake your claim, on the side of the hall to watch the activities from.  You will find revelers in all types of period dress as well as modern styles but one thing is evident, a fun time will be had my all!

 


The warm-up band "Rio Grande" about to fire things off

This event is open to all the family and many families had three or more generations represented.  It is non-smoking and non-alcoholic.  It shuts down promptly at midnight, another condition of law. They even remember that gentlemen don't wear their hats on the dance floor but spurs are still
allowed.  Plan early if you want to attend this event.  If you want to come for dancing then plan on attending either Thursday or Saturday cause Michael really packs the house.  Jan and I had a blast and will be sure to make this a regular stop.  I hope to see more of the Bar-D fans there next year.  Ya'll come see how things are done in Texas.


 

 

 

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