Cowboy Poetry and Western Life

Events and Festivals

Gathering Reports


We invite folks to send in reports about gatherings.

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

(Some links may go out of date.)

2012 Reports



Seventh Annual Cowboy Legends Memorial Day Celebration Antelope Island, Utah

2nd Annual Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous Hyrum, Utah, March

19th Annual Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta, Lordsburg, New Mexico, February

8th Annual Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering, Ellensburg, Washington, February


January 2012 reports.
June-October 2012 reports

See reports from 2011 here
See reports from 2010 here
See reports from 2009 here
See reports from 2008 here
See reports from 2007 here
See reports from 2006 here
See reports from 2005 here
See reports from 2004 here
See reports from 2003 here
See reports for 2002 here
Reports from 2000- 2001 are here


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Back on home . . .


May, 2012
Seventh Annual Cowboy Legends Memorial Day Celebration Antelope Island, Utah

  report and photos by Chris Mortensen

Seventh Annual Cowboy Legends Memorial Day Celebration
Memorial Day Weekend, 2012

The 7th annual Cowboy Legends event was held over the Memorial Day weekend, on Antelope Island, in the Great Salt Lake, Utah.

Antelope Island Bison

Featuring some of the best talent in the Intermountain West, the show went on, in spite of some inclement weather during the first two days. Even with the bad weather, the performers went on, and kept the crowd entertained.

Paul Bliss

The event also featured wagon rides on the island, right through the bison herd! Wagon Master Paul Bliss also shared some of his great cowboy poetry. The featured poets were: Bob Christensen, Casey Woods, Paul Bliss, C.R. Wood, Steve Spencer, Stan Tixier, Bob Urry and family, and Marion Manwill, who also served as Chaplain for the Cowboy Church on Sunday.

Many Strings

Coyote Moon

The featured western musicians were: J.C. Needham, Jan Erickson, Troy Ross, Arden Gailey, Many Strings, Richard Olsen, Coyote Moon, The Drifter and Miss Judy, Chris Mortensen, Kylee Price, Saddle Strings, Johnson Creek Band, and In Cahoots. Robin Arnold was scheduled to perform, but got a bad flu bug. We all missed his smooth vocals and great guitar work!

Kylee Price and Arden Gailey

Richard Olsen and young fan

Saddle Strings

Kudos to Lisa Stubblefield (Coyote Moon) for all the blood, sweat, and tears she expended as Committee Chair. Also to Don and Lois Schrader, Sponsorship Coordinators, and to Clay and Stephanie Shelley, Fielding Garr Ranch Curators. Garrett Ostler and family kept everyone well fed with their great dutch oven fare. Becky Hougaard was over Cowboy Mercantile, and lots of great western wear, tack, and artwork was viewed and purchased by visitors and fans of the Cowboy Legends. This was a non-profit event, and a generous contribution was raised during the event to be donated to the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah.

When the weather cleared, the views across the Great Salt Lake to the Wasatch Front peaks, freshly dusted with snow, was astounding! All performers sang the Dale Evans penned "Happy Trails" to end a very rewarding four day weekend event.

Finally, thanks to all the veterans who make this land "Home of the Free, Because of the Brave." Hope to see you at "Cowboy Legends" next year!




March, 2012
Second Annual Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous Hyrum, Utah

  report and photos by Chris Mortensen

Second Annual Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous
March 1-4, 2012

The 2012 Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous was again a huge success! From Ernie Sites' Thursday night kickoff performance right through Mary Kaye's beautiful and moving ""God is in the Roses" to end Cowboy Church on Sunday, the attendees were treated to a special and memorable weekend of cowboy poetry and music.

Dave Stamey

Following Ernie on Thursday night were Paul Bliss, Dave Stamey, Sam DeLeeuw, and Michael Martin Murphey. What a powerhouse lineup!

Michael Martin Murphey

Friday night's main event featured Stan Tixier, CR Wood, and Mary Kaye, followed by headliner, Dave Stamey.

We felt very fortunate to have some of cowboy poetry's and western music's top tier of entertainers right here in Hyrum, Utah! Kudos to event organizers, Dawna and Dale Major, who worked tirelessly for months to plan and carry out every detail of this great annual event.

Dale Major and Michael Martin Murphey

Dale, two of his kids; Erin, on vocals and fiddle; and Jake, on upright bass, joined Nick Nielsen, on piano, Brett Bullock, on drums, and Chris Mortensen on guitar and electric bass, to warm up the crowd for the family dance on Saturday night. Then, Michael Martin Murphey and the Rio Grande Band spent the rest of the evening creating great memories for all in attendance. What a great night!

Michael Martin Murphey and the Rio Grande Band

We also had a fine lineup of invited musicians, including Dave Anderson, STAMPEDE!, Saddlestrings, Many Strings, Chris Mortensen, Tumbleweeds, Doug Figgs, JC Needham, Coyote Moon, Kenny Hall, Troy Ross, and Richard Olsen.

The invited poets included Sam DeLeeuw, Paul Bliss, Stan Tixier, CR Wood, Steve Porter, Marty Mickelson, Jeff Coates, Al Clark, Marion Manwill, Alan Chenworth, JB Barber, Casey Woods, and Marleen Bussma.

Mary Kaye and Chris Mortensen

The highlight of the whole weekend, for me, was a Friday night jam session at Grant White's Sportsman's Paradise. I was able to join Ernie Sites, Mary Kaye, Dale Major, and Troy Ross, along with a roomful of rapt listeners. It just doesn't get any better than this! Ernie, Mary Kaye, Troy, and Dale are all great songwriters, and it was really neat to hear their new stuff in such an intimate setting. Thanks again, Grant, for hosting us.

Another great moment was when Laurie Morgan from Saddlestrings joined Dave Stamey on the Elkhorn Stage. She sang beautiful harmony to some of Dave's most memorable songs. It wasn't hard to see why Dave Stamey has won so many WMA awards. His performances were all technically flawless, and his dry wit kept the audiences laughing.

Michael Martin Murphey captivated the audience during all of his performances, including an impromptu Saturday afternoon stint on the Elkhorn stage. Michael is a true gentleman, and I really admire his commitment to preserving western traditions and values.

The Saturday night "Family Dance" was exactly that: geared for families. And scores of families turned out and danced, and made lasting memories of what rural, small town America can offer and share. Sunday night, after everyone else had gone home, Ernie Sites and I were invited to a private dinner at the home of John and Pauline Kurek, who hosted the green room on Thursday night. After dinner, we jammed for over two hours for a few close friends. Thanks, Ernie for your friendship, and for sharing your amazing talents!

Ernie Sites

Thanks to all the vendors, craftsmen, artists, poets, musicians, and volunteers. Thanks to Ed Durrant, Lynn Hulme, and Steve Brown for running the sound on the stages; to Nick Nielsen, Chris Bailey, Larry Johnson, and Glen Riggs for being the stage bosses; to DeAnna Hulme, Heidi Bullock, and Shelby Potter for hosting the green room; to Blake and Jodie Pulsipher for the great food; to Travis Sparks (Trading Post Sheriff); to Marion Manwill, for being the chaplain, and bringing a great spirit to Cowboy Church; and especially to Steve and JennaVee Woolf, for being the volunteer coordinators. See you next year, first weekend of March. Remember, spurs and chaps are optional!


February 2012
19th Annual Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta  Lordsburg, New Mexico

  report and photos by Steve Conroy


19th Annual Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta
February 11, 2012

The Land of Enchantment has given us another delightful experience as Allen “Hook” Hill and his wife, June, continue to host the Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta in Lordsburg, New Mexico. This is a fund-raising event to help support the Lordsburg-Hidalgo County Museum, which is where the Gathering is held.

Allen "Hook" Hill

It’s is highly recommended to come early and tour the Museum prior to the show. There are artifacts and stories from Lordsburg’s early involvement with prisoner of war camps and they had Germans, Italians and “American Japanese” during the war. Tom Mix made his last ride through their town. It is certainly an opportunity to get a taste of history and also enjoy a great show of music and poetry. By the way, at intermission, they serve a great meal of barbecued hamburgers, with all the fixin’s. Now, that IS special, a “dinner and a show” for the price of admission. Of course, all the funds raised go to the Museum.

Steve Hill

On February 11th, the doors opened at 4:00 pm and by 5:00, when the show started, approximately 180 people were eagerly waiting a fun-packed evening. Stephen Hill, “Hook” Hill’s son, served as MC and kept things moving smoothly while lightening up the evening with some far-fetched tale about each of the entertainers. He has a great repertoire of humorous stories.

Jon Messenger and Harold Keith

Veao Peterson opened the evening with a special poem he had written. Veao holds dual citizenship in Mexico and the United States. He has several businesses in the area and his poetry reflects true stories of ranch life.
Harold Keith is a talented fiddler, guitar player and singer. He performed a couple of fiddle numbers and several guitar pieces. He was joined by Jon Messenger during his fiddle numbers. Harold is definitely a crowd pleaser and got your toes tapping.

Pete and Diane Kennedy are out of Tyrone, New Mexico. Pete has performed solo in the past and this year he shared the stage with his wife, Diane. Pete was “spot-on” with his poems and the audience enjoyed his presentations. This was Diane’s first appearance and she sang several numbers in between Pete’s poems.


Jon Messenger

Jon Messenger closed out the first half and did a superb job. Jon has performed at most the gatherings in Arizona and New Mexico and was the strongest talent at the Gathering this year. Jon is a song writer and has many wonderful pieces that he performs. His guitar skills are solid and his mellow voice makes each song sound brand new. Jon gives you the background to the piece before he sings it and you are drawn in, mesmerized by the story-telling through music.

Steve Conroy

After intermission and a wonderful dinner, the second half opened with Steve Conroy. Steve lives in Sierra Vista and is the Co-Chair for the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering. He is also a talented artist who can play guitar, sing, recite poetry and also writes poetry. He performed several songs written by Dave Stamey and Bob Nolan. He also performed several poems by Diane Tribitt and S. Omar Barker. He has a great singing voice and solid delivery; and he can certainly get you wrapped up in the story-telling when he does the poetry.


Neil Abbott

Neil Abbott
was a working cowboy off and on for some thirty years, and is a He talked about the greenhorn who really wanted to come out and work with them. As Neil relates it, “that feller could get lost quicker than anybody. He’d be coming back through a gate we went through that morning and he would ask where we were!” Neil was a wonderful treat for the audience and brought them out to the gathering of cattle … for just a little while.

Over the Hill and Picking Up Speed

The Over the Hill and Picking Up Speed group consisted of Frank Fox, Norman Wright, Buddy Jensen and Sharlene Jensen. Each has been involved with other groups and Western music for years, and came together recently to share their talents with the local community. They played a number of great classic pieces and the musical blend of their instruments enhanced each piece. They also harmonized on a number of pieces and Sharlene treated everyone to some “down home” yodeling. All in all, they did a great job.

Allen "Hook" Hill and Bill Cavaliere

The show was wrapped up with Bill Cavaliere and Hook Hill trading turns at reciting their poetry. Bill writes his own material and he had everyone laughing right from the start. He started off with a poem and them Hook followed with another. It was a constant game of “one-upmanship”, but just between you and me, I think Hook had the upper hand most of the time. Of course, he’s been writing and reciting a bit longer than Bill.

So, another great Gathering has wrapped up in Lordsburg. It is one of those Gatherings that is held family style. “Hook” and June Hill must be congratulated for hosting another Cowboy Poetry and Music Fiesta. And to all the folks who came and supported the Lordsburg Museum renovation, we thank you most sincerely and humbly. For those who missed the Bootheel Fiesta, I would recommend you watch for it next year in February, 2013. Come to the Land of Enchantment for an informative and entertaining visit to the Lordsburg-Hidalgo County Museum and Bootheel Fiesta.



February, 2012
8th 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)


8th Annual Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering Ellensburg, Washington
February 16-19, 2012

Cold, wet and icy weather certainly didn't dampen the spirits of those attending the Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering this past Presidents Day weekend in Ellensburg, Washington. A large turnout enjoyed a break in the weather, to take part in the delicious chuck wagon fare of beef, taters, beans, biscuits and desert of course washed down with real cowboy coffee as they watched the kids hone their roping skills and bull-whip demonstrations by Bink Picard.

The Spirit of the West just keeps getting bigger and better. as this year they added several  new programs to the agenda.  Starting with a Thursday night concert by the Central Washington University Symphony Orchestra, conducted  by Dr. Nikolas Caoile, and Men's Choir, conducted by Dr. Gary Weidenaar, performing "America—The West." The concert in three suites thrilled the audience with magnificent performance's of “The Battle of New Orleans,” “The Lincoln Portrait,” “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral,” and “The Alamo.”  The latter two featuring vocalist Micah Parker who gave an absolutely outstanding performance.

photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
Brenn Hill

photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,

photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
© 2012, Molly Morrow,
Michael Martin Murphey

There were four headliner shows, each featuring some of the top Western entertainers in the business. Making the trek to Ellensburg this year were Michael Martin Murphey, Dave Stamey, Brenn Hill, Sourdough Slim, Carin Mari, Gary Allegretto, Adrian, poet Chris Isaacs, and making the trip for the first time, the Bar J Wranglers. After watching their shows, you knew why they are at the top of the heap.They are professionals, not out for a weekend jaunt, but this is their trade. And they plied that trade well. Near-capacity audiences certainly voiced their approval with standing ovations. 

photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
Dave Stamey

photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
Chris Isaacs

photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
Bar-J Wranglers

And there were the entertainers who performed for two days, four hours a day, at six locations in the downtown area,  all doing fantastic jobs, including Jim Aasen, Andy Bales, Hank Cramer, Jennifer Epps and Lauralee Northcott, G.T. Hurley, Stan Kvistad, Dave McClure, 13-year-old fiddler Matthew McCravey, Barbara Nelson, Duane Nelson, Prairie Spring, Rockin' HW, Coyote Joe Sartin, TR Stewart and Paul Wilson.

photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
Lauralee Northcott and Jennifer Epps

Saturday night was a time to dust off your dancin' boots, put on your best duds and shake a leg to the music of The Saddle Cats, featuring fiddler Richard Chon and the legendary steel guitar player Bobby BlackAll the way from the San Francisco Bay Area, this Western Swing Band kept the revelers dancin' and hollerin' for more. 

Also new this year was the Cowboy Gospel Venue featuring Broken Axe Music Ministry's Jeff Colson, Hank Cramer and Dave Kelly

Now you would think there'd be a break in the action so you could catch your breath....not a chance!

Between all the action mentioned above, you could attend the Saturday autograph session (a fan favorite) and the Cowboy Reunion sponsored by the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame. This year honoring World Bareback Champion Clint Corey, who won the Bareback Title at Ellensburg, an amazing five times. 

photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
Clint Corey

Other fan favorites are the Kids Corral, Fiddle Contest, Ranch Roping Competition, Chuck Wagon Cook Off and Cowboy Church.  Some preferred to do some shopping or “wishing” at the Gear and Art Show. Some thirty booths were filled with art, western clothing and crafts such as spur and saddle making. Plus, there were workshops and demonstrations available such as Mule Packing, Dance Lessons, Dutch Oven Cooking, Fiddle and Harmonica lessons.

photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
Dutch Oven Cooking

© 2012, Molly Morrow,
Gary Allegretto and his harmonica workshop

A good time was had by all and a pat on the back for the directors and volunteers who make this such a GREAT gathering!  So set aside Presidents Day weekend on February 14th through the 17th, 2013, and join the fun at the Spirit of the West. Hope to see you there.

photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
photograph © 2012, Molly Morrow,
Tommy Tucker




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



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