Cowboy Poetry and Western Life

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Enterprise (Oregon) September


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September, 2006
2nd Annual Max Walker Scholarship Cowboy Poetry Gathering  
Enterprise, Oregon
a part of the Annual Hells Canyon Mule Days celebration



Report and photos by Smoke Wade


The 2nd Annual Max Walker Scholarship Cowboy Poetry Gathering took place on September 8, 2006 at the Wallowa County Fairgrounds in Enterprise, Oregon. The memorial gathering was held in conjunction with the 26th Annual Hells Canyon Mule Days with the intent to raise scholarship money for a college bound senior. Max Walker was the first chairman of Hells Canyon Mule Days.

The entertainment got under way at 6:00 p.m. with a pre-show jam session. The stage was a flat bed trailer, while the event center was an indoor arena. The horse barn was a fitting venue for cowboy poets and western musicians, and by the time the main show started, there was standing room only.

Gathering coordinator, Allen Schnetzky opened the show with a welcome and then he introduced the dignitaries including Hells Canyon Mule Days president, Sondra Lozier. Prior to starting the entertainment, Schnetzky and Lozier presented a one thousand-dollar scholarship to Tricia Kunkle, Oregon. She is a music major attending Eastern Oregon University.

Allen Schnetzky

The entertainment got under way at 7:15 with featured poet, Smoke Wade, Idaho, as emcee for the evening's event. The cast of local poets selected for the show included Lynn LaRue, Peggy Brennan, Mark Porter, Grant Warnock and Darla Klages, all of Oregon. LaRue made her debut appearance as a cowboy poet and stated she is now hooked. Most poets can relate to that. Warnock shared poetry written about his ranch life, while Klages demonstrated her story telling ability.

Lynn LaRue


Mark Porter


 Darla Klages


Peggy Brennan, married to a local rancher that is the grandson of Walter Brennan, is carrying on the family tradition of entertaining. Mark Porter gave a notable presentation of cowboy poetry.

The featured musicians included "Awesome" Jim Aasen, Washington; Sam Mattise, Idaho; and The High Strung Band of Oregon. The High Strung Band, the five-member Reddington family, showcased their three children, Landen on the guitar, while Morgan and Hunter played the fiddle. The group was highly entertaining and appeared to be the crowd favorite. Aasen played a mixture of traditional cowboy songs. He is noted for his renditions of Jim Reeves' and Marty Robbins' songs. Sam Mattise's upbeat sound of original and traditional cowboy music could best be described as "cool cowboy blues."

Jim Aasen 

Sam Mattise

The gathering was deemed a success as a fund-raiser, and plans for the 2007 event began immediately at the end of the show. Plans were discussed to expand to open mic day sessions next year. The event was a perfect blend of grass root poetry mixed with the talent of more experienced performers.

After a late night get together at the Range Rider, the poets and musicians gathered for the non-motorized parade the next morning. Highlights of the parade included a team of European oxen, as well as many horses, buggies, wagons and show mules. Following the parade, once again it was time for the performers to say good-bye as they promised to meet again, somewhere down the cowboy poetry trail.



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