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 page. 

(Some links may be out of date.)

2004 Reports

October - December

see January-March reports here
see April-July reports here
see August-September reports here


Valentine (Nebraska) October

Emmett (Idaho) October

John Day (Oregon) October

George West (Texas) November

Loomis (California) November

Richfield (Utah) November

Heber City (Utah) November

Rupert (Idaho) November

Wickenberg (Arizona) December

Monterey (California) December  (separate page)

See reports from 2005 here

See reports from 2003 here
See reports for 2002 here
Reports from 2000- 2001 are here


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


December 2004
16th Annual Cowboy Christmas Poetry Gathering 
Wickenberg, Arizona

story and photos by
Yvonne Hollenbeck

The tradition continues "Out Wickenburg Way" as the 16th Annual Cowboy Christmas Poetry Gathering proved this past December 3 - 5 (2004). The best in western entertainment was exhibited as the big kick-off performance was held on Friday evening to a very receptive crowd, with a number of day sessions on Saturday, and another special performance that evening.  Featured entertainers for the 2004 event were Yvonne Hollenbeck, Neil & Mary Abbott, Kip Calahan, Ross Knox, Leon Flick, Chris Isaacs, Georgie Sicking, Suzi Killman, Sally Bates and Brenn Hill, with Tom Weathers and Carson Thomas handling the emcee chores.  A young poet by the name of Whitney Hancock presented her poem on the Friday evening program.  Whitney was winner of the Best Over-all Poem in the Youth Poetry Contest sponsored by the committee. 

On Saturday evening, Chris Isaacs was presented the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce Western Heritage Award by a former winner, Carole Jarvis.

In addition to the featured entertainers, Invited Poets were Dick Morton, Jane Morton, Ron Brinegar, Marshal Jack Alan, Mike Dunn, Lyle Suttill, Jim Dunham, Weldon Rutledge, Audrey Hankins, Carole Jarvis, and Dan Jarvis.

Georgie Sicking, cowboy poet from Kaycee, Wyoming, enjoys a visit
from childhood friend, Leonard Stephens of Wickiup, Arizona

Dan and Carole Jarvis share the mic

Yvonne Hollenbeck, Kip Calahan, emcee Tom Weathers, and Mary
Abbott getting ready for the Friday Night performance

"A Thorn Among the Roses" Mike Dunn has his hands full with
cowgirl entertainers (L to R) Sally Bates, Audrey Hankins, Georgie Sicking,
Suzi Killman, Jane Morton, Yvonne Hollenbeck, and Carole Jarvis

The Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce, under the leadership of Julie Brooks, sponsor this Gathering each year on the first weekend in December.  The event also includes a  Cowboy Dutch-Oven Breakfast, Cowboy Worship Service, Concerts, Rodeo, and a successful youth poetry contest.  For more information, contact the chamber at (928) 684-5479 or visit them online at

November 2004
9th annual Mini-Cassia Snake River Valley Cowboy Poetry Gathering
Rupert, Idaho

story and photos by Smoke Wade


On the Snake River Plains

"The Rupert Report"

by Smoke Wade.....a legend in his own mind

Rupert, ID. Sugar beet trucks busily lumbered along the highway of the Snake River Plains with anticipation of an early winter on a recent overcast November morning. Close by, coyotes, jack rabbits and antelope gathered in ritual amongst the scab-lands and sagebrush. As harsh as this land looks, the flood plain soil is fertile and there grows the potato that made Idaho famous. Nearby, not far from the deep ruts left by pioneer wagon trains, the Cowboy Poets of Idaho (CPI) also gathered in ritual on November 12-14, 2004 for the 9th Annual Mini-Cassia Snake River Valley Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

And when the poets of CPI gather, they gather in force. The organization, with over 250 members, boasts to be one of the largest Cowboy Poetry organizations in the United States. On this occasion, more than forty CPI members gathered at the Historic Wilson Theater in Rupert for a fun filled weekend. The Wilson, built in 1920, is being restored to it's original grandeur and beauty. The event was sponsored as a fund-raiser by the Cache Peak Backcountry Horsemen Assoc. (CPBHA) and organized by Wayne & Becky Nelson (CPI), Earl & Sandy White (CPBHA), Renaissance Art Center (the Wilson Theater Group) and Bill & Glenna Ramsey who organized classroom visits at local schools.

The Wilson Theatre

The poets of CPI kicked off the event on Friday with day sessions at the Wilson followed by a night show emceed by Larry Gibson of Montana. The show opened with a Presentation of Colors and Patriotic opening by John Howell. The audience was treated to featured poets, Ellie Corrigan Johnson, Layle Bagely, Arland Olsen, and Ken Romriell of Idaho; and Ken Wellard of Utah. Featured Western musicians were Linda Merrill & Carol Findlay, Peggie Dunow, Lucky Johnston & Cody, of Idaho; Steve & Rhondalee Paskins of Utah; and the high-energy musical group from Nevada, Desert Breeze, with members Billy Rose, Doc Quam and John Tierney. After the show, the performers jammed the night away in the "Green Room" where food and refreshments were provided by the sponsors.

Doc Quam of Desert Breeze with friends

Saturday day sessions got off to an early start. Noon break featured a Chili Cookoff sponsored by The Renaissance Group. The day was highlighted by a "Truth Without End" contest sponsored by CPBHA. Wayne Nelson won the competition with his tall tale about "Moose Dung Pie" and was presented with a beautifully hand-crafted lapel pin made by a member of CPBHA. Smoke Wade took 2nd place while 3rd place went to Idaho's own western humorist, "The Funny Cowboy," Vern Woodbury. The windy stories were followed by a fundraiser auction sponsored by CPI with proceeds going to the organization to purchase a laptop computer. Auctioneer Sam Mattise brought in top dollar for the donated items and the auction was deemed a success.

Larry Gibson and John Westbrook

A near-capacity crowd was treated to more great talent on the Saturday night show emceed by Layle Bagely. John Howell once again presented a patriotic opening to the delight of the audience. Featured Idaho poets included Dave Tingey, Bill Ramsey,
Smoke Wade, and Vern Woodbury. Idaho musicians were Gene and Sandy Jones of Badwater Cattle Company, "Windy" Bill Chiles, Sam Mattise, and poet-musician Wayne Nelson. Montana cowboy musicians included Larry Gibson and John Westbrook. An emotional closing performance, "Mountain Cathedral" was presented by Bill Ramsey and Peggie Dunow. After the Saturday night show, the performers once again jammed in the "Green Room" until the wee hours.

Several performers deserve special mention. Poetry was presented by 11yr old Necia Hunter. The future of CPI rests in the hands of youthful poets like Necia. Steve & Rhondalee Paskins of Utah pleased the crowds with energetic music and song. Desert Breeze of Nevada were also a crowd favorite. Lucky Johnston & Cody blended poetry, songs and rope tricks into a wonderful act. John Westbrook of Montana picked his guitar like a wizard. Vern Woodbury had the folks splitting their sides with laughter, while Gene & Sandy Jones of Bad Water Cattle Company sang their version of Dr. Hook's "Cover of the Rolling Stone." The thrill they were seeking was to be on "The Night Show." The sound man, Gary Bench, put in long hours and the Rupert City Mayor, Audrey Niewerth, was always in the audience.

Doc Quam (fiddle), Billy Rose and John Tierney of Desert Breeze

Cowboy Church was hosted on Sunday morning by Dave Tingey with songs and poems given by John Howell, Bill Ramsey, Gary Bench, Smoke Wade, Wayne Nelson, Ken Wellard, Larry Gibson, and Billy Rose and Doc Quam of Desert Breeze.

After church, the poets and musicians once again packed their bags and said their good-byes, exchanging CD's, hugging both old and new friends... lingering, chatting... not wanting it all to end. The Cowboy Poets of Idaho are a close family and parting is always hard, but cowboy tough they are, and at last, their ritual gathering over, they took their place on the highway and they scattered across the Snake River Plains, slowly fading from view as they mingled with the lumbering sugar beet trucks.

November 2004
Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Buckaroo Fair 
Heber City, Utah

story and photos by
Yvonne Hollenbeck

"To promote the Cowboy Way of Life" is not only a part of the mission statement of Heber City's Cowboy Poetry Gathering, but was evident during the second week of November, as the "Who's Who" of western entertainment performed at one of America's premiere gatherings.

It all began ten years ago at the historic town hall at nearby Midway, Utah, as trail boss Tom Whitaker and a group of his friends hosted the first gathering in this beautiful valley.  Although the gathering soon outgrew the hall, it was the scene of this year's kick-off event on Tuesday evening, November 9.  With Waddie Mitchell hosting, folks were treated to dinner and a concert featuring Gary McMahan, Brenn Hill, Belinda Gail & Curly Musgrave, Ben Quinters & Stu Campbell.  The following evening found the historic Heber Valley Railroad passenger cars loaded brimful as fans rode the rails to the tunes and poems of Waddie, Brenn, Belinda & Curly, Gary, Jeff Carson, Doris Daley, Stampede, Fred Engle, Les Buffham, Brooke Turner, Yvonne Hollenbeck and Prickly Pair.  Every fifteen minutes the entertainers switched cars as the Express rolled along through the beautiful Wasatch mountain terrain.

Waddie Mitchell, Curly Musgrave, and Red Steagall

The rest of the week, from Thursday evening, through Sunday, found massive crowds attending three continuous venues at the Wasatch High School, which included concerts by such outstanding entertainers as Sons of the San Joaquin with the BYU Philharmonic Symphony, Ian Tyson, Red Steagall, Riders in the Sky, Michael Martin Murphey, Bar J Wranglers, New West, all of the entertainers from the previous evenings' venues, as well as Richard Espinoza, In Cahoots, Don Kennington, Colen Sweeten, Gary Russell, Ridin' High, Blue Sage, Kenny Hall, and Andy Nelson.  All main events were hosted by the ever popular Waddie Mitchell.  Folks were also entertained to a Horse Extravaganza hosted by the Harmony Horse Club; the world famous Eddie Deen BarBQ, a buckaroo dance, Mountain Man Trader's Camp; a wonderful trade show, open mic sessions and jam sessions.

Doris Daley and Colen Sweeten

Doris Daley, David Jackson of New West, Yvonne Hollenbeck, and Andy Nelson

Even with four main concerts per day, all performances were sold out, as large over-flow crowds enjoyed many of the other activities provided throughout the gathering.  The final event was a brunch with the Bar J. Wranglers on Sunday, followed by Cowboy Church on Sunday afternoon.  Make plans to attend the 11th Annual Gathering at Heber City, Utah, to be held November 8 - 13, 2005.  (For more information, see

Brenn Hill and his beautiful family

November 2004
Michael Martin Murphey Christmas Concert  
Richfield, Utah 

story by Jan Erickson and photos by Jo Lynne Kirkwood 

Saturday November 20, 2004, I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at the Michael Martin Murphey Western Music Association Hall of Fame induction. The ceremony took place prior to Michael Martin Murphey's Christmas Concert at the Sevier Valley Center on the campus of Snow College in Richfield, Utah.

The night began at 6:00 pm, with a VIP reception. The Cowboy Poets of Utah were well represented along with many members of the Western Music Association. Being around the likes of Mike and Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Colen Sweeten, Ken Stevens, Todd Nail, Jerry Brooks, CR Wood, Gordon Thomas, Vern Condie, Dave Anderson, Steve and Rhondalee Paskins, was as if I were at a
family reunion, where everybody is your favorite cousin, aunt or uncle. I apologize to the many others whose names I am not able to remember yet. We all enjoyed food and drinks provided by the Cowboy Corral in Elsinore. Forty-five minutes prior to the concert, Michael Martin Murphey arrived at the reception to greet the guests. Being a Cowboy Gentleman, he happily posed for pictures, traded stories and signed autographs on programs, CD's and guitars. I've seen Michael back stage several times in the past few years, and he has always shown this same friendliness to his fans. Soon it was time for everyone to find their places in the auditorium.

At 7:30 pm the show got started to a more than full house. Following opening comments and the National Anthem, Jo Lynne Kirkwood kicked off the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. She brought out Dave Anderson, who was representing the Western Music Association at the presentation. Dave took little time before asking Michael Martin Murphey to join them on stage. Michael did so, but made sure his band was out there with him. Dave Anderson gave remarks on noted accomplishments in Michael's musical career, then congratulations were offered. The plaque was presented, and with that gesture, Michael Martin Murphy was officially a member of the Western Music Association's Hall of Fame. He joins such notables as; Rex Allen, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Patsy Montana, The Sons of the Pioneers and many more, in an exclusive group of folks known for publicly promoting ideals of integrity and high moral character. Michael gave credit for his success to his Savior Jesus Christ, his mother and father, his own family and to each member of his band for hanging in there over the years. He told the audience that this award will be treasured most dearly over other awards received during his career. It was a simple, to the point and rare event, which I believe each audience member was grateful to be a part of. Now everybody was ready for the concert.

Dave Anderson of the WMA (in white shirt) presents the award to Michael Martin Murphey, to his left.
photo by Jo Lynne Kirkwood

I've seen Michael Martin Murphey's Christmas concert before and was excited for the chance to watch it again. For those who have not seen this Christmas concert, it's a program of seamless entertainment. Michael and his band move through the poetry and songs as if telling a continuous captivating story. Skits and background videos are all part of that story, holding the viewers attention at all times. The elements of the show that stand out for me are Michael singing Badger Clark's "The Christmas Trail" and Larry Chittenden's "The Cowboy Christmas Ball." He then recites "The Old Time Christmas" by Bruce Kiskaddon. These poems have become more a part of my holiday season than the standard carols we all grew up with. It would be hard to imagine anyone leaving this concert disappointed.

Another view of the ceremony
photo by Jo Lynne Kirkwood

Following the concert, the audience was invited to the Frontier Village Inn at the north end of Richfield, for a free showcase of local talent. The above named group of Utah poets and musicians along with several members of the Old Time Fiddlers and myself, all took our turn. Michael Martin Murphey arrived in the middle of our informal concert and sat next to his friend, Colen Sweeten. This was our time to entertain Michael. He stayed as long as he could but was on a tight schedule. When saying goodbye, he mentioned that he and his band were due in Prescott, Arizona the following afternoon for their next show. It was later, around 12:30 am when everyone else decided to say their farewells and call it a night.

Two of Michael Martin Murphey's good friends, Roger Nielsen and Colen Sweeten
photo by Jo Lynne Kirkwood

This event was possible mostly because of the efforts and hard work of Mike and Jo Lynne Kirkwood. Their love of the Cowboy lifestyle and wishing to share that with the rest of us, brought an event to rural southcentral Utah which would most likely occur in a larger city. Richfield, Utah was a perfect setting for a cowboy to receive his award. I believe I can safely say that we all give thanks and appreciate Mike and Jo Lynne. Many folks are eager to be participants, but few are willing to be organizers, as those two have been.

Surely there are important items not included in this report. It's totally unintentional, because I am a relative newcomer and visitor, not aware of the full scope of this event and everyone involved. But it was an experience I can look back on and be proud to boast, "I was there."

November 2004
The Tenth Annual Cowpoke Fall Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering 
Loomis, California

story by Marie Krings 

Loomis, California had their annual Cowpoke Poetry Gathering the thirteenth and fourteenth of November and it was quite a show. They had local favorite "Doc" Barsaleau, Bill Brewster from Colorado, John Martin from Petaluma, Cowboy singer Scott Gerber, also from Petaluma, and Jeralynn Strong, an up and coming young Cowgirl Poet from Elk Grove that is fast making a name for herself and getting quite a few fans.

As if that lineup weren't enough, Carol and Bert Braun also had Baxter Black and Pat Richardson on both night shows, and folks I'm here to tell you, that was something to see. Baxter with his animated style of performing just had the crowd in stitches. And Pat who has an almost exact opposite presentation (I don't think he moved a foot during his performance, or cracked a smile) was the perfect poet to be on a show with Baxter. their styles compliment one another, and all you heard was, "I never laughed so hard in my life." from Baxter's hilarious story about the feedlot cowboys on a fishing trip, to Pat's "Queen of North Dakota" it was just a side-splitting two nights.

Bert, Carol, and a bunch of great volunteers have transformed the Blue Goose Packing shed into a magnificent gathering place. It holds around four hundred people, as opposed to the one hundred and seventy five at the old place. I arrived at two o'clock on Friday the day of the show, and they were running skill saws, hammers, electric wires, and setting up chairs, but they made it with ten minutes to spare. They deserve a lot of credit for all the work and money they've put into this project, and next year it will be a lot
easier on them as they have the heavy work done.

November 2004
George West, Texas 

Linda Kirkpatrick and Surprise

story and photos by Linda Kirkpatrick

Storyfest is an annual event held the first Saturday in November each year. This was the 16th Annual successful year.  People come from all over the state to enjoy tales of the past.  Becky Allen and her staff are to be highly commended for putting on a continually great festival.

Dennis Gaines

Academy of Western Artist members Dennis Gaines, Donnie Blanz, Linda Kirkpatrick, Lloyd Shelby and John Campbell braved the cool air to entertain at the Chuck Wagon Kick Off Dinner for Storyfest.  Around 200 folks enjoyed a chuck wagon dinner, silent and live auction.  Then Dennis Gaines gave a moving memorial to the life of Mel Railey, cowboy poet from the King Ranch, who lost his life to cancer this last year.  Dennis spoke of Mel's life and love for his family and the cowboy way of life.  Dennis then recited Bruce Kiskaddon's "The Bronco Twister's Prayer."  Lloyd Shelby opened the show followed by Linda Kirkpatrick, John Campbell, Dennis Gaines and Donnie Blanz.

Local cowboy poet John Campbell.  John's family has lived on the same ranch since 1834. 

Cowboy Crooner Donnie Blanz

Saturday morning the festivities were kicked off with the "Little Red Wagon Parade."  Three large tents, filled to capacity, were entertained with different story tellers, bands and other various forms of entertainment.  A Buffalo Soldier camp, Texas Ranger camp and cowboy camp were also set up to show people just how life was in the late 1800's.

At high noon Dennis, Donnie, Linda, Lloyd and John once again brought the cowboy way of life alive in George West.  For two hours the audience was held spell bound listening to stories of the cowboy, given by these AWA members.

Lloyd Shelby and John Campbell

The response from the audience was wonderful as was the weather.  There was a slight chill in early morning but by noon everyone was in shirt sleeves!

Mark your calendars for the first Saturday in November 2005 and head for George West, Texas and Storyfest.

October 2004
Joni Harms Concert 
John Day, Oregon

story by Smoke Wade, photos by Tracy Moss

Rain, hail, sleet, snow and hazardous highways did not keep an audience of 250 from attending the Joni Harms concert at the remote Grant County Fairgrounds in John Day, Oregon, Saturday, October 23, 2004. The evening was hosted by event organizer and Cowboy Poet, A. K. Moss from Oregon.

Joni and her friends at John Day.
Jim Aasen, A. K. Moss, Joni Harms, Sam Mattise, and Joni's children 
photo by Tracy Moss

Jim Aasen, Washington, and Sam Mattise, Idaho, opened the concert and warmed the crowd with their special musical talents. Sam Mattise carried the crowd away with his cool "cowboy" blues voice. Then Jim Aasen graced the audience with classic songs by great artists such as Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash and Hank Snow. All this sprinkled with a few poems by A. K. Moss had the crowd
on the edge of their seats when AWA award winning Joni Harms took the stage for the next hour. Accompanied by her children, Joni truly can  "Put The Western Back In Country" and she created a very memorable evening for all those that braved the weather to attend. The evening was finished with all the performers up on stage and having the audience join in singing "Home on the Range".

The Grand Finale...Home on the Range
A. K. Moss, Jim Aasen, Joni Harms, Sam Mattise
photo by Tracy Moss

As true members of the Cowboy Poets of Idaho, Sam and Jim jammed ever chance they got. On Friday night, as well as after the Joni Harms concert, they gathered at the ranch style home of A.K. Moss and jammed with her family and friends until the wee hours of the morning. 


Jam session after the show at the home of A. K. Moss
Jim Aasen, Sam Mattise, A. K. Moss
photo by Tracy Moss

October 2004
Annual Southwestern Idaho Cowboy Poetry Gathering  
, Idaho

story by Smoke Wade... a legend in his own mind (his words, not ours!)

Flocks of migratory birds darkened the Autumn skies above the Payette River valley on a recent October weekend. They gathered for awhile, visiting with each other -- mingling, then each flock moved on their way to some unknown destination.

Below, in Emmett, ID, cowboy poets and western musicians gathered in a similar fashion for the Seventh Annual South "Western" Idaho Cowboy Poetry Gathering organized by
Faye Briscoe, Sam Mattise and Larry Shiflet.

The event was attended by forty-eight performers from Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Utah, Nevada and Arizona with singer/musician, Ralph Smith traveling the longest distance from Safford, AZ. Over a thousand spectators had the opportunity to witness this magical event during the weekend of October 15, 16 & 17, 2004.

Day sessions were held in the Bunk House at the Gem County museum on Friday followed by a wonderful barbecue sponsored by Albertson's Foods. Later, the evening show, "Cowboy Chaos", got under way at the Emmett Jr. High School. The audience was treated to a pre-show performance by the very talented Mallory Shiflet followed with a "Chaos" of entertainment emceed by Layle
Bagely. All the performers were given a chance to do a single performance and their position to perform was drawn five minutes before their selected time. The audience was delighted by the rapid-fire action of the poets and musicians including
Faye Briscoe, Peggie Dunow, Art Honey, Lisa Jensen, Linda Merrill, Carol Findlay, Larry Shiflet, Gary Texler, Ellie Corrigan, Roberta Green, Bobbie Hunter, Lucky Johnson, Ken Romriell, Ralph Smith, Nancy Galt and many others.

Saturday morning began with a Cowboy Poets of Idaho board of directors meeting at the Swing Scene restaurant followed by day sessions at the Emmett City Hall. A wonderful potluck lunch was served at the Gem County Museum. It was mentioned that this was like a big family reunion without any relatives.

There isn't room to list all of the wonderful performers, but several deserve recognition. Eleven year old Necia Hunter performed on the day shows to the delight of the audience. "Loose Lip" Bruce Pinson entertained with poems, songs and harmonica. Larry Palowski seemed to appear in every musical set -- strumming and banging on his big bass fiddle while Larry Beck provided boxes of local grown spuds for each performer to take home.

Roberta Green, Ellie Corrigan and Sam Mattise. The crowds cheered as the storytellers, Ken Romriell, Sam DeLeeuw, Vern Woodbury, Lucky Johnson, Smoke Wade, Wayne Nelson, Judy Page, Larry Beck and Don Kennington, weaved their tales so carefully, each taller than before. The final outcome found Don Kennington and Sam DeLeeuw tied for second place while top "Tall Tale" honors went to Vern Woodbury for his delightful story about Whiskey Drinking Rattlesnakes. By this time, everybody had their pant legs rolled up.

The Saturday night show at the Emmett Jr. High School was emceed by Sam Mattise while the pre-show performers were Jinny Lowe, Nancy Galt, Gary Trexler and Sam Mattise. A near capacity crowd was treated to top notch talent such as Steve and Terry Taylor of Stampede!; the funny cowboy, Vern Woodbury; "Windy" Bill Chiles; A.K. Moss; Wayne Nelson; Sam DeLeeuw; Northfork featuring George Thomsen and Sharon "Silver" Glenn; Susan Park and Rusty Endicott of Wyoming Red; Don Kennington; "Keep Out Of The Wire" Dallas McCord; and P.J. Palmer.

The performers weren't done yet! After the Saturday night show, they gathered at the home of Mel and Faye Briscoe for a wonderful meal of Mel's home made bread and chili. Instruments came out and the group jammed until way after midnight.

Sunday morning found the performers gathered on Freeze Out Hill at the 9-11 Memorial for Cowboy Church. A light rain failed to dampen their spirits as Barney Hill hosted the event while music and poems were presented by Dallas McCord and P.J. Palmer, Sam Mattise, Faye Briscoe, Bobbie Hunter,
George Thomsen and Sharon "Silver" Glenn of the musical group Northfork, A.K. Moss and Smoke Wade. As the performers finished the church service shortly after daylight, they paused and reflected on this ridge top for awhile...mingling...visiting...watching the broad valley below, then like the flocks of birds overhead, they slowly moved on -- each to their own destination.

October 2004
Old West Days Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering
Valentine, Nebraska

story by
Yvonne Hollenbeck, photos by Bob Stetter

The Annual Old West Days Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering was held at Valentine, Nebraska, the third weekend of October, 2004.  The 13th year for this gathering proved far from unlucky, as they reported record crowds and the three feature performances sold out.  Yvonne Hollenbeck hosted the three performances that featured Pat Richardson, Barry Ward, Brenn Hill, T. J. Casey, Jean Prescott, Jess Howard, and Doris Daley.  Doris also held a poetry writing workshop on Saturday morning, which was attended by over 40 people and was reportedly very successful.

Friday night performers Brenn Hill, Pat Richardson, Doris Daley, and
Barry Ward 
photo by Bob Stetter

Saturday afternoon - all music - Chuck Parker, Barry Ward, Jean Prescott,
T. J. Casey and Brenn Hill photo by Bob Stetter

Saturday night - Willard Hollopeter, Committee President; Chuck Parker;
Jean Prescott; T. J. Casey; Yvonne Hollenbeck (host) and Jess Howard
photo by Bob Stetter

The 2004 Gathering was dedicated to the memory of Howard Parker.  Howard was instrumental in getting the gathering started and partially responsible for its great success.  A special program was held at the Saturday night show which was opened by his daughter, LexAnn Roach.  Participants were Willard Hollopeter, Pat Richardson, Otto Rosfeld, Ken Moreland, and Yvonne Hollenbeck.  Both the Saturday afternoon and evening shows were climaxed by a special presentation by Chuck Parker, Howard's talented son, who played Howard's guitar and sang two of Howard's original songs.  Chuck received a well-deserved standing ovation each time he took the stage.

Jean Prescott and Chuck Parker (talented son of the late Howard Parker)
photo by Bob Stetter

The Valentine Gathering is well known for its outstanding day sessions which featured many of the Midwest's top entertainers as well as some just getting their first experience on the stage.  The day sessions are well attended and offer the same high-quality entertainment as does the featured performances. Those featured in these sessions were poets Bill May, Janet Parkhurst, Marilyn Herrmann, R.P. Smith, Jack Ostergaard, Vicki Troxel Harris, Writer Ray, Norm Rourke, Slim McNaught, Lance Johnson, Sharon Hanks, Rick Buoy, Edgar Clemens, Lyn Messersmith, Ken Moreland, Al Mehl, Mary Blocker, Ellen Simon, Dave Knight, Deb Carpenter, and Sam Noble, as well as a number of outstanding musicians and singers.

Plans are already underway for next year's event, which will again be held the 3rd weekend in October.  Check out their website at for more details.


We invite you to send in reports about gatherings.



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