Cowboy Poetry and Western Life

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Monterey (California) December


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December, 2007
9th Annual Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival and Western Art and Gear Show  Monterey, California

Report by Voleta Hummel with photos by Jack Hummel

Jld07.jpg (9383 bytes)  additional photos by Jeri Dobrowski below

(See our feature about the Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival here.)

2007 poster by Joelle Smith


photo by Jack Hummel
Vendor Sally Smith, mother of the late great western artist
Joelle Smith with Loni Hernandez,  one of the founders of the
Cowboy Culture Committee of Visalia, Califorrnia


2007 Monterey Festival Dedicated to Bill Farr

By Voleta Hummel

Your heart skips a beat and suddenly a big smile appears on your face when you arrive in town, go to the AAA office for some maps and information, and find yourself walking in behind a cowboy all decked out in his best boots and hat. You know you are back in Monterey, California, for the Ninth Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival and Western Art & Gear Show. There is an entire weekend of wonderful events to come, but we must pause first and take note.

“This year’s festival is dedicated to one of our own, founding member and more importantly our great friend, Bill Farr. Bill’s infectious personality touched us all. His passing deprives us of a … history of Monterey County’s cowboy past and present. We will always carry his memory in our hearts, and better still, son Will joins the festival board. Please join us in celebrating Bill’s contributions to promoting cowboy poetry & song through this festival and in keeping the cowboy way of life alive. He lived it every day.”—Mick Vernon, Artistic Director.

“Bill Farr was a founding member of the Board of Directors for our Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival in 1998. Gary Brown, then the Chief of the City of Monterey Police Department and founder of our festival, solicited Bill’s involvement in the creation of the three day festival to celebrate cowboy poetry and music as well as the history of the vaquero and ranch heritage.

Gary often said, ‘Bill Farr is the real deal,’... He lived the cowboy life fully and honored ‘the cowboy way’. Those of use who had the pleasure of serving with Bill on the Board truly enjoyed his presence and his participation.

Bill was ‘fun’ personified. He loved to dance, sing, play his guitar, and ride, and never missed an opportunity to do so. He was a loving husband, the proud father of five sons, who enjoyed family gatherings and parties.”—Gerry Montgomery, President Board of Directors.

Bill would have been especially proud of this year’s festival. I really do not know how Monterey continues every year to be better than last year when I always leave thinking that it can’t get any better than this. As Mick Vernon said in his welcome message, “Now, snug yer cinch, slack yer reins and let’s ride!” What a ride it was!

photo by Jack Hummel
Artistic Director Mick Vernon and Festival Board President Gerry Montgomery

Of course, a large part of this festival’s success is because of the planning and hard work that goes into it by the board of directors and volunteers all year long. They wrote in the program this year, “We are a group of volunteers who love cowboy poetry, western music, cowboy movies and western art and gear. Each of us has a day job to support our hobbies and interests… As in the past, we pride ourselves on bringing the best of the best cowboy poets, western music entertainers and artisans of fine western art and gear to the first capitol of California.”

Just reading the program with each show featuring a theme and seeing how they match just the right performer to the right subject is always an indication of just how enjoyable the weekend is going to be.

photo by Jack Hummel
Gary Robertson, Joel Nelson, and Randy Rieman

For example the Friday night show was entitled “Wide Open Spaces” and had appearances by Sandy Seaton, Joni Harms, Joel Nelson and Wylie & The Wild West.

photo by Jack Hummel
Tom Russell and Sandy Seaton

Saturday kicked off with the “Cowboy Coffee Hour” with Ernie Sites, Pat Richardson, Yvonne Hollenbeck, and Joni Harms. Then came “Horse Whispering” featuring Randy Rieman, Joel Nelson and Mike Beck.

photo by Jack Hummel
Long-time volunteer Mary Frelick and Paul Zarzyski

The afternoon started off with Pat Richardson, Gary Robertson and Paul Zarzyski in “Let ‘Er Buck” and was followed by Yvonne Hollenbeck, Ernie Sites, Gary Robertson and RW Hampton in “Strikin’ a Lope.”

photo by Jack Hummel
RW Hampton

“Mustangs” was the Saturday night show theme bringing Mike Beck, Randy Rieman and Ian Tyson to the stage. Saturday night ended with Wylie & The Wild West playing for the “Dance.” (No additional name needed here).

photo by Jack Hummel
Joni Harms

Sunday morning started with Wylie & The Wild West, RW Hampton, Randy Rieman,  Joel Nelson, Joni Harms and Yvonne Hollenbeck with Don Fuselier as host for Cowboy Church.

You could probably pick which performers were scheduled for “Livin’ the Life” (RW Hampton, Mike Beck and Sandy Seaton) and “A Woman’s Touch” (Joni Harms, Yvonne Hollenbeck and Sandy Seaton).

photo by Jack Hummel
Glen and Yvonne Hollenbeck

The closing show Sunday afternoon, “When the Story Meets the Song” had Mick Vernon and for the first time together on stage Tom Russell, Paul Zarzyski and Ian Tyson.

photo by Jack Hummel
Ian Tyson

There really were so many highlights and special moments that it is impossible to describe what a wonderful weekend this was. It took me all day Monday driving back to reality to come down from the clouds. I will mention that seeing Ernie Sites and Ian Tyson both performing cowboy rap might have been a historical first and just a little bit frightening. I guess we all knew it had to happen some day!

photo by Jack Hummel
Ernie Sites


A version of this report appeared in Rope Burns


Additional Photos by Jeri Dobrowski

Jld07.jpg (9383 bytes)

See more photos from Monterey here at Jeri Dobrowski's web site
and visit her gallery of Western Entertainers and other Personalities
and additional galleries, here.


photo by Jeri Dobrowski
Wylie Gustafson of Wylie & The Wild West and a fan


photo by Jeri Dobrowski
Wylie & The Wild West packed the dance floor


photo by Jeri Dobrowski
Filmmakers Susan Jensen and Paul Singer with Mike Beck


photo by Jeri Dobrowski

Yvonne Hollenbeck, poet and champion quilter, presented a well-attended quilt workshop

photo by Jeri Dobrowski
Yvonne Hollenbeck, Festival Artistic Directory Mick Vernon, Joni Harms, and Sandy Seaton

photo by Jeri Dobrowski

Yvonne Hollenbeck, Susan Parker, and Paulette Tcherkassky

photo by Jeri Dobrowski
Bryan Kunic of Tully Hole Saddlery, Tres Pinos, California

See our feature about the Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival here.  


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