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(Some links may go out of date.)

2014 Reports


27th Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, Prescott, Arizona, August

4th Annual New Underwood National Day of the Cowboy, New Underwood, South Dakota, July

18th Annual Echoes of the Trail Cowboy Gathering, Fort Scott, Kansas, June


January - February 
March- August

See reports from 2013 here
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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
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Reports from 2000- 2001 are here


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August, 2014
27th Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering  Prescott, Arizona

  report and photos by Nika Nordbrock

This report also appears at with additional photos


27th Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering

The Gathering had no theme this year, but rather it used the artwork "Cowboy’s Journal" by Marless Fellows. Poets, musicians, and audience certainly had a marvelous time during this fantastic weekend at the 27th Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott, Arizona, on August 7, 8 and 9, 2014. The weekend weather was cooperative until Saturday afternoon when the skies opened to drench us with a beautiful much needed rain. We always like rain as it brings grass for the pastures.

This year over 56 poets and musicians celebrated the twenty-seventh gathering with the multiple day sessions and three evening shows. The evening shows were held in the Performing Arts Center at the Yavapai College Prescott Campus. The all-volunteer Gathering crew once again made it a seamless event for the public. It was all great. The evening shows terrific. The day sessions were outstanding with serious and humorous cowboy poetry and cowboy music. All the sessions were packed. The college venue still provided patrons with plenty of parking, convenient bathrooms, plenty of seating in the larger venues, air-conditioned rooms, and no hills to climb.

The Gathering received support from various community sponsors—hotels, restaurants, businesses, and individuals. As many know, without such sponsorship, gatherings around the West would not be able to continue sharing with audiences the lifestyle of those who earn their livelihood on horseback as working cowboys and in the livestock and ranching sectors.

The public part of the Gathering kicked off with the Thursday evening show which featured
Dave Stamey with host Sam DeLeeuw. Sam kept the show moving with her poetic introductions to the performers and had the audience laughing for one and one-half hours. The first half of the show included the Rusty Pistol Cowboy Band, Paul Bliss, and Deanna McCall, and after intermission, Mike White received the Gail I. Gardner Award for a Cowboy Poet, and Chris Isaacs and Jay Snider joined Dave Stamey to round off the evening.

Jay Snider and Mike Prince

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

At noon on Friday, the Gathering started with a big opening session in the Yavapai College Performance Hall. After the posting of the colors, Mary Matli, president of the Gathering, welcomed the audience to the Gathering, and Jim Buchanan delivered the keynote. One of the highlights of the opening was the presentation of the Legacy Award to Sally Harper Bates for twenty-seven years of devoted and dedicated service to the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering. The audience then enjoyed listening to musicians
Trinity Seely and Daron Little. Then for the next three hours, the patrons scattered to seven venues, where they could enjoy a variety of cowboy poetry, stories, and music.

Melinda and Dani Sue Carter

Evening host
Tom Weathers kept the 7:00 pm Friday show at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center running smoothly and on time. Mary Kaye headlined the show and was joined on stage by Trinity Seely, Terri McCall Knight, Josiah Lindsey, Mike White and Carole Jarvis. Fourth graders also recited their poems which they had written for the Gathering’s “Poetry in the Schools” program.

Saturday was another busy day with the eight concurrent day sessions from 9:00 am-5:00 pm at the Yavapai College Prescott Campus. At 10:00 am, poets recited their poems based on the painting by Marless Fellows, who also has a new book,
The Cowboy Way, which pairs up one of her paintings with a cowboy poem. During the day, folks took a break to stroll through the Prescott Farmers Market, enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant or the college’s cafeteria, or listened to the sessions.

Carol Walker and Lauren Walker, Bar U Ranch


At 1:00 pm, Pam Denney hosted the special ranch history session, which featured the Bar U Bar Ranch. The Gathering public also was able to attend sessions in eight venues. Several new faces at the Gathering were Paul Bliss, the Mountain Saddle Band, Generations Band, Jordan Brambilla, Janice Deardorf, Daron Little, Joe Konkel, Doug Tolleson, and Trinity Seely. All day cowboy poetry fans were able to enjoy stories about ranch life, ranch women and men, green grass, life in the West, and Western history, both serious and humorous, with sessions of cowboy poetry, cowboy classics, and cowboy music.

On Saturday evening, 7:00 pm performance, which was hosted by
Randy and Hannah Huston, headlined Kristyn Harris with Bill Barwick, Gail Steiger, Mike Dunn, Daron Little, and Janet Moore. The audience always loves 20-year-old Kristyn’s energy and yodeling.

Rolf and Jean Flake

Saturday night was soon at a close and patrons, poets, host families, and sponsors parted once again. The cowboy poet family, new and old “tribe” members, left each other with hugs, waves, and see you next year. The words “See you next year” drifted across the Arizona air.

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

Remember to mark your calendars and check the website for August 6-8, 2015, and the 28th Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott, Arizona. It’s one gathering that you don’t want to miss. Be sure to bookmark as one of your favorite sites  and “like” the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering on Facebook, 

Pat Denney and Ruth Horne


July, 2014
4th Annual New Underwood National Day of the Cowboy New Underwood, South Dakota

  report by Slim McNaught; photos by Maysa Hackens


4th Annual New Underwood National Day of the Cowboy

Perfect atmosphere, comfortable temperature, great performances, followed by delicious treats afterwards: what a way to celebrate the 4th Annual New Underwood National Day of the Cowboy. Not a large audience but a great audience to perform for. Performers were Robert “Jinglebob” Dennis of Red Owl, SD: Dean Hackens of New Underwood, SD; Mel Anderson and his wife, Dorothy, of Wasta, SD; Margaret Nachtigall of Owanka, SD; and Slim McNaught of New Underwood, SD.

Robert Dennis sang several songs, some which he has written, and told a story. With a book and CD published, he is well known in the area. He has also attended cowboy poetry/music gatherings in Elko, NV several times, performed from Iowa to California and many events in the western states. Saddle maker, leather tooler, singer/song writer, story teller and poet, he lives with his wife, Cindy, on a ranch that now has fifth generation family members on the land.

Mel Anderson brought three stories with him that he had written. Retired rancher from Wasta, SD, Mel has five books published, one of which is recorded on six CDs. He is a polished story teller and his books have been distributed across the continent. Mel presented one of his stories.


He then recruited two lovely ladies to assist; his wife, Dorothy, who presented a second story, and Margaret Nachtigall, from Owanka, SD, presenting a third.

Dean Hackens, owner of the Hackens Barn Theatre, sang several gospel songs that everyone enjoyed very much. Dean built a stage in the haymow and added an easy access stairway. This horse barn was built during the 1930’s and used to ready remount horses for the Government. Electric lights, ceiling fans, and a good quality sound system create a great theatre with a special atmosphere. The podium is three snake traps set one on top the other, very unique. With hundreds of harness and harness parts, horse shoes, and antique tools adorning the walls, this is a perfect place to perform to keep our western heritage alive. Contact Dean or Tammy Hackens at 605-754-6126 if you need a place for your venue.

Slim McNaught recited several of his poems. Slim and his wife, Darlene, own Slim’s Custom Leather in New Underwood, SD, where they produce hand tooled and hand made leather items. Slim has seven books and two CDs published, with a third CD to be released soon. His second CD,
Reminiscin’, was selected Cowboy Poetry Album/CD of the Year 2009 by the Academy of Western Artists.

Maysa Hackens was the designated photographer for the event. All the pictures contained in the report are products of her expertise. When I asked Maysa what inspired her to pursue photography as a vocation, her response was, "God has blessed me with a love for photography and eyesight in only one eye has not stopped me from finding creative possibilities. I was born 3 months early. Both retinas detached, leaving me with only 75 percent vision in my left eye. I graduated from New Underwood High School and am currently perusing photography and business at Lake Area Tech, in Watertown, SD. I enjoy landscape, wildlife, portrait, special event and concert photography the most. You can contact me on Facebook at How Eye See It Photography or call 1-605-391-2060." Thanks for sharing, Maysa.

The National Day of the Cowboy is celebrated each year on the fourth Saturday of July. At this time there are eight states that have passed the National Day of the Cowboy bill in perpetuity, signed by the Governors of KS, WY, CA, NM, AZ, OK, OR and MS. Governors of many other states are issuing proclamations on this resolution yearly, and have for several years past. The Cowboy flag flies in twenty-six states and four countries, including having flown in Iraq and Afghanistan with our Desert Cowboys. In May, 2008, the National Day of the Cowboy flag was taken to the International Space Station aboard the Discovery Space Shuttle by NASA Commander, Mark Kelly. It traveled over five million miles before returning to Earth on Flag Day, June 14, 2008. Thanks to Tom Bishop Sr., the National Day of the Cowboy flag is now part of the Canadian Wild West Show.

The Western Writers Group and Dakota Cowboy Poets Association honors the NDOC organization on a local level each year. With lots of good comments on the program and location, we were very happy with the results. Mark it on your calendar: New Underwood National Day of the Cowboy, fourth Saturday every July. For information call 605-754-6103. See you there.


June, 2014
18th Annual Echoes of the Trail Cowboy Gathering Fort Scott, Kansas

  report and photos by Jerry Schleicher


18th Annual Echoes of the Trail Cowboy Gathering

The Ellis Family Fine Arts Center at the Fort Scott, KS, Community College resounded with cowboy music and poetry during the recent 2014 Echoes of the Trail Cowboy Gathering. Along with nationally-recognized headline performers, the 18th annual gathering attracted regional musicians and performers, a variety of vendors offering western arts and crafts, and nearly a dozen performers competing for silver trophy buckles in the cowboy poetry and music competition.

Kicking off Friday night's entertainment was cowboy and country gospel recording artist Steven Spalding. A circuit-riding cowboy preacher who preaches and performs for audiences throughout Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, Spalding has written over 1,600 songs and recorded 18 CDs and DVDs of music. A former Nashville entertainer, Steven was recently nominated for two Academy of Western Music awards, including Male Vocalist of the Year and a second nomination for Album of the Year for his CD, "Rougher As Ya' Go."

Following Spalding's performance, eleven contestants vied in the first round of the cowboy poetry and music competition. Performers included cowboy poet and former bull and bronc rider Sam Keifer from Lebo, KS; Gerry Allen, cowboy musician and poet from Parkville, MO; Neal Torrey, poet and novelist from Bolivar, MO; Ron Ratliff, rancher, cowboy preacher and poet from Trenton, MO; Geoff "Poppa Mac" Mackay, a cowboy poet and retired rodeo clown from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; Buzz Keiper, cowboy musician from Columbia, MO; C.W. Harris, a cowboy poet and auctioneer from Hepler, KS; Francine Robison, a popular cowgirl poet from Tecumseh, OK; John Van Leeuwen, a poet from Walnut, KS; Phillip Holcome, cowboy poet and singer from Mineral, KS; and Royce Smithey, a cowboy singer and recording artist from Bonham, TX.

Saturday morning and afternoon brought more than a dozen performers on stage to perform poetry and cowboy music. In addition to those competing in the poetry and music competition, performers also included cowboy poet and rope spinner Harold Carpenter from Sedan KS; Richard Dunlap, rancher and cowboy singer from Louisburg, MO; D.J. Fry, a singer and poet from Oronogo, MO; cowboy poet and singer Cliff Sexton from Uniontown, KS; and Abe Reddekopp, a cowboy musician, singer and author from Kansas City. At noon, Dennis and Donna Williams and crew served up a tasty fireside lunch from their vintage chuckwagon. Later that afternoon, Echoes committee member Judy Johnson introduced the winners of the Gary Wimmer Memorial kid's cowboy poetry competition.

Echoes co-founders Johnny Kendrick and Arnold Schofield opened the show Saturday night with the famous Echoes of the Trail theme song. Emcee Jerry Schleicher then introduced the Horse Crazy Cowgirl Band, who put the audience in a boot-stomping mood with their fabulous blend of cowgirl harmony, yodeling and guitar picking. Founding member Jennifer Epps, a singer, harmonica player and working wrangler from Washington State, was joined by new member Judy Coder. Judy, who hails from Topeka, Kansas, is both a classically-trained opera singer and an internationally-known western music recording artist. She's also an award-winning yodeler who's won the Patsy Montana Yodeling Contest, the Country Music Association Yodeling Contest, and has been named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association.

The Saturday night show also included performances by six finalists in the cowboy poetry and music competition. Taking home a custom-engraved belt buckle from Montana Silversmiths was First Place Overall winner Ron Ratliff. Oklahoma native Francine Robison was judged first place winner in the cowboy poetry category, with second place going to C.W. Harris. Royce Smithey, cowboy musician and lawman from Bonham, Texas, was named first-place winner in the cowboy musician competition, with Gerry Allen of Parkville, MO, taking home the second-place trophy buckle.

The evening concluded by announcing winners of the silent auction. Echoes president Diann Tucker then handed out trophies for the pie baking contest, and auctioneer C.W. Harris auctioned off each prize-winning pie to the audience, with the proceeds going to the Bourbon County 4-H Clubs. While a rainstorm Saturday night dampened plans for Sunday cowboy church services beside the chuckwagon, a good crowd gathered inside the Fine Arts Center for music and services presented by Reverend Steven Spalding.

Echoes of the Trail is made possible through the support of the Fort Scott Community College, the Bourbon County Arts Council, and dozens of area businesses and individual donors. Organizers Judy Howser and Diann Tucker deserve special credit for much of the heavy lifting.


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



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