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(Some links may go out of date.)

2013 Reports



15th Annual Missouri Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival, Mountain View, Missouri, April

9th Annual Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering Ellensburg, Washington, February   

27th Annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering (Sul Ross) Alpine, Texas, February

On the previous page:

5th Annual Songs of the Cowboys Cody, Wyoming, April 

13th Annual Saddle Up! Celebration; Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, February

21st Annual Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering;  Sierra Vista, Arizona, February

20th Annual Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta; Lordsburg, New Mexico, February

24th Annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering; Golden, Colorado, January

See May-July, 2013 reports here

See reports from 2012 here
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 . . .
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April, 2013
15th Annual Missouri Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival, Mountain View, Missouri

report and photos by Jerry Schleicher


15th Annual Missouri Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival
April 26-27, 2013

It rained, of course. We're starting to suspect that the jig Jennie Cummings dances each year at the Mountain View, Missouri, Cowboy Music and Poetry Festival may, in fact, be a rain dance. But rainy weather didn't dampen the spirits of the 20 performers who delivered three big shows at the 15th annual Mountain View Festival, along with special shows on Saturday morning at the Summersville Community Center and at the Mountain View Senior Citizens Center.

This year's festival, organized by Jennie Cummings with assistance from Jim and Judy Wenzel of Summersville, MO, featured an outstanding selection of cowboy ballads and fine guitar music, along with both serious and humorous cowboy poetry. Perennial favorite Harold Carpenter, from Sedan, KS, demonstrated his (always) dry humor along with his rope tricks; while John Beltz, past-president of the Missouri Cattlemen's Assn. from Willow Springs, MO, shared his experiences from the rancher's side of the fence. Longtime Missouri Cowboy Poets Association (MCPA) member and Mountain View first-timer Gerry Allen, from Parkville, MO, entertained with songs and poetry, while Oklahoma native Francine Robison shared poems from her award-winning CD. Missourians D.J. Fry and Richard Dunlap performed several favorite cowboy ballads for which they've become noted. Illinois trucker and cowboy poet Hoss Kirgan, making his second appearance at Mountain View, surprised us all by bringing his guitar on stage.

Coming all the way north from Bonham, TX, was Texas lawman and recording artist Royce Smithey to share his exceptional voice and outstanding guitar playing. Former Wyoming deputy sheriff Neal Torrey, of Bolivar, MO, shared several of his poems, and Missourian and past MCPA-president Jake White entertained the audience with his tales and poetry. Retired Oklahoma City fireman, leather braider and wild pig hunter Ken Lorton recited poetry by Robert Service, and told a hilarious story about his experiences making homemade soap. And while Harold and Wanda Williams, half of the Sagebrush Gang, were unable to attend due to illness, the other half of the group, Mike and Edna Butler, Neosho, MO, did a great job of entertaining us all.

Emcee Jerry Schleicher, Parkville, MO; cowboy musician Gerry Allen, Parkville, MO; and musician and recording artist Steven Spalding, Nixa, MO

That big tour bus parked beside the convention center belonged to cowboy preacher and recording artist Steven Spalding, fresh from a two-week concert tour of Nebraska. Steven, who resides in Nixa, MO, has written more than 1,400 songs during his career, and entertained the audience with several original songs from his repertoire. Calvin Wilkins, from Vinita, OK, recited several poems, including Bill Hirschi's famous "The Bra." Mike Todd, a  retired newspaperman now living in Warsaw, MO, may be the only cowboy musician who writes and performs songs honoring goats. Event co-organizer Jim Wenzel performed poetry and stories, and Molly Smith shared a story about an event gone wrong. MCPA member Jerry Schleicher, Parkville, MO, emceed the 15th annual festival,
and shared a true story about his late father-in-law, who began cowboying as a 14-year-old boy. The event concluded with Cowboy Church services on Sunday morning.

We were sorry to learn that illness prevented Gail Burton, Benton, AR, from attending this year's festival, but delighted to see Jennie Cummings back on her feet following a hospital stay. Jennie, along with Jim and Judy Wenzel, are looking into making the Summersville event an annual festival, and we wish them the very best of luck.


Emcee Jerry Schleicher presents event organizer Jennie Cummings with a proclamation from Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, proclaiming Cowboy Poetry Week in Missouri.





February, 2013
9th Annual Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering
  Ellensburg, Washington

  report by "Toe Tappin'" Tommy Tucker, Western Heritage Show

   photographs by Molly Morrow,  
(Molly Morrow photograph by Annie Alley)




9th Annual Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering
February 14-17, 2013

photograph © 2013, Molly Morrow,
Horse-drawn chuck wagon, driven by Don Akehurst from Long Horn Cattle Company in Ellensburg.
The two full-brother Halflinger geldings pulling the wagon are Woody and Willie.

I'm reminded of an old TV commercial for Timex watches where after torturous treatment, John Cameron Swayze says “Timex takes a lickin', but keeps on tickin'!” Well, I don't think the Spirit of the West has taken any lickings, but I can sure attest to the fact that it keeps on tickin'! President's Day weekend, cowboys and cowgirls alike converged on Ellensburg, Washington for the 9th Annual Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering. And what a gathering it was! A celebration of music, poetry and art which didn't disappoint those who attended this event! Spirit of the West, already acknowledged as one of the top gatherings in the nation, again brought in an “A” list of entertainers.

Among the headliners were Joey & Rory, who along with Heidi Feek, thrilled the audiences with their great music and stage show. Not only are they recording artists, but they can also be seen on their television show on the RFD-TV Channel. Be sure to check it out.

photograph © 2013, Molly Morrow,
Wylie Gustafson of Wylie & the Wild West

Also back this year were Wylie & The Wild West. Wylie, with new members in the group, proved one thing: they hasn't missed a step. For 25 years, Wylie has learned his craft and has learned it well. And, he is definitely a crowd favorite.

© 2013, Molly Morrow,

Quebe Sisters band

I was able to finally see the Quebe Sisters Band and was not disappointed as they proved to be a crowd favorite all through the gathering. Their style of western swing and bluegrass kept the toes tappin' and the hands clappin' as the audience enjoyed their performances.

photograph © 2013, Molly Morrow,
Belinda Gail

Also back this year was Belinda Gail. One of the gathering's favorite performers, she proved to be at the top of her game. Strong performances and really won the audiences over when she sang “Amazing Grace” acappella. Suze Spencer Marshall, granddaughter of Tim Spencer (original member of the Sons of the Pioneers), along with fiddler Paul Anastasio were on the bill and delighted the audiences with their performances.

The San Francisco based western swing band, The Saddle Cats kept the Saturday night dance jumpin' as they showed why they're one of the top Western Swing Bands in the country. They also put on an outstanding concert performance on Sunday afternoon. T R Stewart, one of several great entertainers from Twisp, Washington, took the stage on Friday night and played tunes from the campfire circuit in the Pasayten and Sawtooth Wilderness areas.

© 2013, Molly Morrow,

Michael Whitaker of Rockin' HW

Joining the fun on Sunday was The Rockin' HW again putting on a stellar performance.

© 2013, Molly Morrow,

Yvonne Hollenbeck

On the poetry side, arguably the “Queen of the Cowgirl Poets,” Yvonne Hollenbeck returned to reflect on her life as a rancher's wife in South Dakota. This lady has won just about every award possible for her poetry and she showed why with her performance of sometimes serious, but always plenty of crowd pleasing humorous poems.

© 2013, Molly Morrow,

Chris Isaacs

Then there's Chris Isaacs. I don't know whether to call him a poet, or stand-up comic. He puts on one of the most audience pleasing performances I've seen. But still can pull your heart strings on a more serious recitation.

Rounding out the entertainers, were the folks playing the seven downtown venues. Jim Aasen, Andy Bales, Barbara Nelson, David Anderson, Jenny Lynn, Paul Wilson, Prairie Spring, and Duane Nelson, all doing outstanding performances.

New this year and highly successful, was the Thursday Night “Cowboy Gospel Celebration” with Belinda Gail, Suze Spencer with Paul Anastasio, The Ridge Ridin' Boys, Fred Moore & Tony Rezanow, and Jeff Colson.

© 2013, Molly Morrow,

The Saturday autograph signing event has become very popular with the fans as they can meet and greet their favorite entertainers. On hand to welcome the audiences were Miss Spirit of the West, Emma Williams and the Ellensburg Rodeo Royalty. That was followed by the Cowboy Reunion with honored guest this year being rodeo saddle bronc champion Butch Knowles. For the past 24 years he has provided the color commentary for the National Rodeo Finals.

When not being entertained there were certainly plenty events going on the keep the fans busy. The western gear and art show again had a good mix of items on display. And the building it was held in was usually busy with art lovers. Then there's the “Chuck Wagon Cook-off” which had over $4,000.00 in cash prizes. And of course if you were hungry you could get some authentic cowboy grub.

The Ranch Roping Competition was held on Saturday and drew a good crowd to see how the working cowboy got'er done!

One event that has kind of taken on a life of its own is the Fiddlers Contest. With over $2,600.00 in prize money given out in ten different divisions. Large audiences enjoyed and urged on the contestants, who competed in the Small Fry. Junior-Junior, Junior, Adult, Senior and Mystery Divisions, with the overall champion being Justin Sherfey (Junior Division).

Sunday morning brought out a capacity crowd to attend Cowboy Church with Pastor Paul Jerome, of the International Cowboy Ministries, with inspirational music by Belinda Gail, Suze Spencer Marshall, Dave Lundy, and Jeff Colson.

Through out the weekend there are numerous workshops available. And of course the “Stampede Program,” art work and poems by elementary students displayed at the gathering and Kids Corral on Friday morning where kids have a special show with Dr. Dave Lundy and fiddler Barb Riley for music and stories about the Old West.

One thing that really makes an impression on me is the comments I hear from the performers. All think this is one of the best run events they had attended. That says a lot for the people who put this event on, from board members to the volunteers. It's obvious they care. Don't miss the next one. Make plans now to attend the 10th Annual Spirit of the West on Presidents day week-end, 2014! See you there!

© 2013, Molly Morrow,

Tommy Tucker


February, 2013
27th Annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering (Sul Ross) Alpine, Texas

  report and photos by Nika Nordbrock

This report also appears at



27th Annual Texas Cowboy Poets Gathering
February 22-24, 2012


Over the weekend of February 22-24, 2012, the cowboy poets, storytellers, and musicians gathered in Alpine, Texas, to help celebrate the 27th year of the Gathering. The steering committee members (Lynn Baldwin, Bill Brooks, Don Cadden, Pam Cook, Jane Garrett, Ida Hoelscher, Paul Loeffler, Shelly Rogers, and Nelson Sager) put many long hours into seeing that all the poets and musicians were well cared for with West Texas-sized hospitality. They welcomed all the poets on Thursday evening at the historic Holland Hotel in downtown Alpine.

Hospitality crew, Eva Caldarone, Janet Garret, and Shelly Rogers

Holland Hotel personnel (Property Manager Carla McFarland, Manager Julie Morton, and Assistant Manager Kevin Chavez) welcomed all of us with graciously with smiles and welcomes as the wait people circulated with delicious hors d’oeurves prepared by Chef Alex Acosta. These appetizers were followed by a spread of Mexican food. This outstanding Poet’s Party was again sponsored by McCoy Building Supply Centers. The mayor of Alpine Dr. Avinash Rangra and his lovely wife attended as well as many poets, friends, and sponsors. This year the entire Gathering was dedicated to Carole Fitzgerald, who died in a car accident last fall and who was very supportive of Ray’s poetry and accompanied him to gatherings around the West.  Unfortunately, Ray had taken a tumble and was having neck surgery at the hospital in El Paso. He is now doing great and getting ready for Spring gather, and he appreciated all those who stopped to see him over the weekend.

Alpine Mayor Dr. Avinash Rangra and his wife

Friday morning folks gathered in the Poet’s Grove for mouthwatering scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, and good hot cowboy coffee. The chuckwagon breakfast was only $5.00, and it is always a favorite of Gathering folks. Weather was very cooperative with clear skies.

Poets and musicians then went off to visit schools in the area where they recited poetry and sang songs and then answered questions from the students. Those who didn’t go to the schools went up to the Sul Ross University campus. Sul Ross University is a member of the Texas State University System and is the home of the college rodeo.

In the University Center, the day started with some folks attending open sessions, some the poetry workshop with Joel Nelson, and others just visiting there or across the street at the Wesleyan Center which served as the Hospitality Room; after those everyone went over to Marshall Auditorium which seats about 900 people. After the welcome address, master of ceremony Bill Brooks introduced headliners Allan Chapman, Doris Daley, and Randy Huston. At 11 am, Bill Brooks hosted the New Folks session with Ken Cook, Kevin Davis, Doug Figgs, Mary Kaye, George Russell and Keith Ward. After lunch, master of ceremony Don Cadden hosted the special 100% Classic—Traditional Poetry and Music session, which included Jerry Brooks, Chuck Milner, Glenn Moreland, and Jay Snider.

Friday afternoon sessions started at 2 pm and went until 5 pm in ten different venues. It was hard to choose from sessions on "Cowboys, Horses, and Dogs," "It Happened This Way," "Thunder and Lightning," "Out to Pasture," and many more. The day ended with the evening show at Marshall Auditorium with Doris Daley as the Master of Ceremony and headliners Bob Campbell, Dale Burson, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Carole Jarvis, Kay Nowell, and Andy Wilkinson. The very talented Doris Daley had written a special poem for each of the performers as an introduction.

Margaret Allen, Mary Abbott, and Joel Nelson

Saturday was a satisfying repeat of Friday. Another good breakfast of biscuits and gravy at the Poet’s Grove and then multiple sessions with all the poets with an open session and at the same time a workshop on songwriting. At 1:00 pm, Joel Nelson introduced the sold out show “Bust a Gut with Baxter Black” which was a benefit show for the planned cowboy poet memorial which will be constructed on the Sul Ross University campus. It was particularly good to listen as Don Cadden hosted the Saturday evening’s show “Night Time Under the Western Stars” which headlined Jeff Gore, Kristyn Harris, Gary and Jean Prescott, Mike Querner, R.P. Smith, and Jay Snider. The only problem with Saturday was that it meant that it was the last day of the Gathering and that we would have to go home and wait for next year’s Gathering.

Randy Huston and Craig Carter families

A special thank you goes out to West Texas National Bank which was once again the title sponsor for the event, all the event partners, the many volunteers, the chuckwagon cooks, and Sul Ross University.  Without these folks and ones like them at other gatherings, the cowboy poetry gatherings would not be able to continue. If you have a gathering near you, please consider becoming a sponsor or a volunteer.

Meanwhile, if you missed this year, be sure to put the 28th Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering on your calendar for 2014. They’ll be looking for you at the end of February 2014 (February 21-24). Be sure to log on to for the dates and for all the latest. One caution though—even with several new motels in town, hotels and motels had full occupancy, therefore, book your motel room now or else be ready to sleep in your pickup truck, RV, or teepee!



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



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