Cowboy Poetry and Western Life

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Gathering Reports
2006

 

Medora (North Dakota) May

 

 

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June, 2006
20th Annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Medora, North Dakota


[
Logo from Slim McNaught's Saddle Rack columns]

Report and photos by Slim McNaught; additional gallery of photos by Jeri Dobrowski

 

"It feels like home!," "Home again!," "It's sure good to be back!" These were just a few of the comments heard during the performers check-in Saturday morning, May 27, 2006, at the Twentieth Annual Dakota Cowboy
Poetry Gathering
in Medora, North Dakota. And it truly does feel like a family reunion, seeing old friends and meeting new.


photo by Slim McNaught

About 250 miles north of Rapid City, South Dakota, nestled down in the North Dakota badlands, Medora boasts an old time legacy of large ranches and Teddy Roosevelt  days. The local population are friendly and helpful and the accommodations are comfortable. We had near perfect weather for this gathering. The weekend started at 10 am with Yvonne Hollenbeck presenting her five generation trunk show of quilts. Yvonne, recently named the Cowgirl Poet of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists at an awards ceremony in Richardson, Texas, has also gained national recognition with her quilt display. Yvonne comes from a long line of quilters and poets and is doing a superb job of carrying on the traditions.

The cowboy poetry event consists of two days of open mike performers with evening paid performances both
days. There were close to fifty performers entertaining a near capacity crowd with two sessions of performers each afternoon. There were cowboy poets and musicians from North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Arizona. Ages ranged from sixteen to eighty five, the majority being ranch raised or ranch affiliated folks. The first session of afternoon performers Saturday and Sunday was emceed by Paula Harkins of Billings, Montana. Paula has four CDs of songs published and if you close your eyes while she sings you hear Patsy Cline alive. She was a great emcee and really helped put the performers at ease while at the mike. She was sporting a "sortin' stick" and let us all know that if we ran over our allotted time she would put a new crease in our hat with her stick. Got lots of laughs, as several performers made remarks about the lady with the big stick and the stop watch sitting behind us while we were performing.


photo and caption by Slim McNaught
Paula Harkins with her "sortin' stick", keepin' the cowboys in line

The emcee for the second afternoon session each day was Bob Petermann from Wibaux, Montana. Bob is an
accomplished entertainer who has been pleasing crowds with his guitar and songs in several states for many
years. Bob has a CD published of his songs which is a real good listen. He was one of the original performers at the Alzada, Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering and hasn't missed a year in the seventeen years that event has been going on. Featured performers for the afternoon sessions both days were Chris "Sandman" Sand, Rusty Thetan, Ron Crowley,
Jim Dalglish, Robert L. Laumeyer, Joe Reems and Terry Schwartz

[ed. note: See the lists of the many other day session performers below, which included Robert Dennis, Rodney Nelson, Georgie Sicking, DW Groethe, Slim McNaught, and many others.] 

The Saturday night paid performance consisted of Juni Fisher from Tennessee, Patty Clayton from Colorado,
Jess Howard from North Dakota, and  Bill Lowman of Sentinel Butte, North Dakota. Emcee Merle Clark, who
ranches on the Little Missouri north of Marmarth, North Dakota, backed up the performers in true professional style. Each of the performers are successful in their own careers and gave high quality performances. Juni Fisher wowed the crowd with her song writing and singing talent, as did Patty Clayton. Then they performed together and turned out an extraordinary performance. The crowd did not want to let them go when the show was over. It was the type of performance one could listen to for hours and not realize time had passed.

Sunday Church services were emceed by Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns of Newcastle,  Wyoming. Many performers volunteered their musical and poetry talents to make the church service a great success. It was enjoyed by all present. We were lucky to have Rhonda performing at this event, as she suffered an accident which left her with a compound fracture in the ankle area of her right leg. But being the cowgirl she is, she got herself and her wheelchair on stage (with a little help) and performed her duties very well. 


photo and caption by Slim McNaught
Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns with her injured leg supported on a chair doin' her job

The Sunday night performance was very capably handled by Emcee, Bill Lowman. Bill is a veteran of gatherings such as this and is the founder of this event. A Sentinel Butte rancher, Bill is also an accomplished
visual, performing, and literary artist, having over 300 of his original art works hanging in private collections from Hong Kong to Sweden. He has written and illustrated three books of cowboy humor and poetry and a fourth of cowboy cartoons. Lowman was given the Greater North Dakota Award for Tourism Development and
is the only individual in North Dakota to go on record in Washington, D.C.'s Library of Congress as a "Local
Legacy" for preserving the Cowboy Tradition [The Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering was also named a Local Legacy during the 1999-2000 Library of Congress Bicentennial Celebration. See more about that below.]

Performers for Sunday night were, again, Juni Fisher and Patty Clayton, with the Larsen Brothers (Paul and
Lowell from North Dakota), Dan Murphy of Montana, and The Old Five and Dimers (Les, from Bismark, and Kelly, from Mandan, North Dakota). Again, these folks put on an excellent show, with Juni and Patty putting on
another performance that will be remembered long. Fantastic entertainment. 

Also an attraction during the two day affair were the Welch's of Medora with their Big Hat Society booth,
along with Slim's Custom Leather from New Underwood, South Dakota, the Badlands Art Association with its nineteenth annual group show of western theme art, and Scott Nelson from Solen, North Dakota, doing pen and ink sketches.

This Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering was founded by Bill Lowman in 1987. With his wife, JoAnn, as manager, they have some very able help: Jeri Dobrowski, publicity and photographer; Lyle Glass in sales; Jennifer Dobrowski, photographer and sales; Sheila Marie, sales; Carolyn Sime, sales; Helen Ostby, database; and Dawn Lowman, sales. This group puts on a top quality event that I would highly recommend as some of the best entertainment in the area.


photo by Slim McNaught     

A version of this report by Slim McNaught appeared in the Tri-State Livestock News (Sturgis) and can be found at his his web site with his other Saddle Rack columns.

 

Note:

The Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering was also named a Local Legacy during the 1999-2000 Library of Congress Bicentennial Celebration. Thirty-one individuals and groups were included in the text, poetry and audio recordings assembled by Jeri L. Dobrowski. Included in the report were Dean Armstrong, Fran Shield Erickson Armstrong, Baxter Black, Jo Casteel, Robert Dennis, Elizabeth Ebert, Lonnie Eichele, Kyle Evans, Cephas Jason "Ceph" Goddard, John Griggs, DW Groethe, R. W. Hampton, Ray Hanzlik, Stan Howe, Jess Howard, Charles E. "Charlie" Hunt, Harold Lowman, Bill Lowman, Betty Lynne Grue McCarthy, Gary McMahan, Rodney Nelson, Glenn Orhlin, Floyd Croswell Oyhus, Howard Parker, Jason Peabody, Robert A. "Bob" Petermann, Stark and Dunn, Russell D. "Red" Steagall, Jody Strand, Cathy Mack Unterseher and Her Home-grown Sidekicks and The Wagoneers. Each submitted one piece from his or her repertoire along with a photo and biography. Where available, recordings were also submitted. A complete listing of North Dakota's Local Legacies is available at The Library of Congress web site.


Additional photos by Jeri Dobrowski

photos and captions by Jeri L. Dobrowski

 


Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
Yvonne Hollenbeck during her historic quilt program

 


Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
Patty Clayton and Juni Fisher signing autographs after a show

 


Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
Rodney Nelson and daughter, Anika

 


Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
Miss Rodeo North Dakota Ashley Andrews, Georgie Sicking and Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns

 


Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
Juni Fisher  

 


Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
Juni Fisher  stopped in to Jessie James' dandy little cowgirl coffee shop

 


Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
Georgie Sicking and the Cowboy Opry's Bob Penfield


Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
Juni Fisher and Patty Clayton singing "The Same River"

 


Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
Bob Petermann waits his turn on Sunday morning gospel program

 


Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
A sure sign DW Groethe is in town, his pickup parked out front of Ellisons' bookstore

 


Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
Bill Stearns and Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns visiting with Paula Harkins


 

 


 

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