Cowboy Poetry and Western Life

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Hot Springs (South Dakota) September

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Below are reports on the 10th annual National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo and the 10th annual Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, which hosted the Rodeo in Hot Springs, South Dakota, on September 28-29, 2007.

Find additional information about the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo and this year's winners in our feature here.

National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo contestants, officials, and others pose following conclusion of rodeo.
photo by
Jeri Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
from Jeri L. Dobrowski, 1471 Carlyle Road, Beach, ND 58621 email  406-795-8168
To order, go to

Participants included Rich Bellert, Excelsior, Minnesota; Marty Blocker (Merriman, Nebraska); Marci Broyhill (Dakota City, Nebraska); Scott Hill Bumgardner (Houston, Texas); Ken Chrissley (Powell, Wyoming); Ken Cook (Martin, South Dakota); John Crabtree (Newcastle, Wyoming); Van Criddle (Eugene, Oregon); Glen Enloe (Independence, Missouri); Slim Farnsworth (Paonia, Colorado); Kenny Hall, Tropic, Utah; Don Hilmer (South Dakota); Willard Hollopeter (Wood Lake, Nebraska); Doug Keller (Kanab, Utah); Paul Kern (Sandy, Utah); Linda Kirkpatrick (Leakey, Texas); Bonnie Krogman (Wood, South Dakota); Ron McDaniel, Sulphur Springs, Arkansas; Slim McNaught (New Underwood, South Dakota); Rod Nichols (Missouri City, Texas); Susan Parker (Benicia, California), Michael Robinson (Draper, Utah), Jerry Simmons (Sioux Falls, South Dakota), Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns (Newcastle, Wyoming); Virginia Taylor (Lockney, Texas); Gordon Thomas, Genola, Utah; Diane Tribitt (Hilman, Minnesota); and Smoke Wade (Mesquite, Nevada). 

Judges were foreman Ed Nesselhuf of Burbank, South Dakota; Yvonne Hollenbeck of Clearfield, South Dakota; Jeri Dobrowski of Beach, North Dakota; Robert Dennis of Red Owl, South Dakota; and Verlin Pitt of Lander, Wyoming.

Among the top winners were Marty Blocker of Merriman, Nebraska; Ken Cook of Martin, South Dakota; Slim Farnsworth of Paonia, Colorado;  Linda Kirkpatrick of Leakey, Texas; and Andy Nelson of Pinedale, Wyoming. Ken Cook, Slim Farnsworth, and Marty Blocker received silver buckles, and Marty Blocker, Linda Kirkpatrick, and Andy Nelson took home trophy statues.


Smoke Wade's report and photos

Slim McNaught's report and photos

A special "Thank You" to the riders and fans from MaryJo Grill

More photos and links

Separate page:

More on the 2007 National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo



  Report and photos by Smoke Wade


The Black Hills Report

A pair of tens is not considered a great poker hand, especially in the Black Hills of South Dakota where card players consider even a greater hand such as two pair of aces and 8’s to be a losing hand. The fabled "Dead Man’s Hand," aces and 8’s, were the cards held by Wild Bill Hickok when he was shot to death at the Gem Theater in the Black Hills town of Deadwood. Yet at times, a pair of tens can be very special indeed. Especially in Hot Springs, South Dakota in September 2007.

For thousands of years, the Lakota and Cheyenne people gathered by the natural hot spring waters of the Southern Black Hills. Over time, gold seekers, settlers and cowboys replaced their presence. Most recently, cowboy poets gathered in Hot Springs on September 27-29, 2007, to participate in the 10th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo (NCPR) which had joined forces with the 10th Annual Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering. And what a winning hand this pair of tens was!

Produced by Sam Jackson, the NCPR was moved to the more central location of Hot Springs after a successful nine-year run in both Cedar City and Kanab, Utah. The move was made possible by the combined efforts of Bruce & MaryJo Grill, coordinators for the Badger Clark Hometown Poetry & Musical Gathering, and George Kotti, executive director of the Hot Springs Area Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce was the major sponsor for both events.

To get the weekend started, arena boss, Sam Jackson and judge foreman, Ed Nesselhuf, presented a cowboy poetry workshop on Thursday morning. The workshop was well attended by NCPR contestants and aspiring poets. After the workshop, the judges for the NCPR were put through a training session as several poets recited for practice. The panel of judges were foreman Ed Nesselhuf of South Dakota; Yvonne Hollenbeck of South Dakota; Jeri Dobrowski of North Dakota; Robert Dennis of South Dakota; and Verlin Pitt of Wyoming.

After the workshop and judge training was completed, the arena boss, Sam Jackson drew the starting positions for the competition. Rod Nichols of Texas drew the dreaded 7:00 a.m. "first out" starting slot for Friday morning.

The NCPR is structured in cowboy rodeo fashion. The theme of the NCPR is "excellence through competition." The poets are called "riders." The poems are their "mounts." The panel of five judges scores the "riders and "mounts" from 0 to 20 points divided between quality, theme and presentation. The high and low score are thrown out leaving a maximum high score of 60 points possible. The "riders" remain behind the "chutes" (stage) until the rodeo announcer introduces them. One by one they make their "ride," spurring their poem along with their best presentation. This year, the stage was set with real rodeo chute gates for the "riders" to enter through—chutes #2 and #3.

The competition is divided into two divisionsthe Rising Star and Silver Buckle. The Rising Star is for only those that have never won a NCPR first place in a past competition. The Silver Buckle is open for all competitors including those that have won a first place in a previous NCPR. Each division is divided into Poet/Serious; Poet/Humorous; Reciter/Serious; and Reciter/Humorous. "Poet" is defined as original work while "reciter" is the work of another poet. Up for grabs is a silver buckle for first place winners in the Rising Star division and prize money. The usual purse amount is $5000.00 divided between the top four finishers of each competition. This year for the 10th Anniversary of the NCPR, a "Shoot-Out" was added with a purse of $1000.00 divided between the first and second place "riders."

Thursday evening, poets, musicians, fans and friends gathered for a jam session at the American Legion Post #71. Reluctant at first, one by one the poets and musicians took the stage and entertained the near capacity crowd until the late hours of the evening. Much to the surprise of Sam Jackson, the poets presented him with a special made jacket embroidered with his name and the words "Arena Boss."

photo by Smoke Wade
Sam Jackson

With the preliminaries over, the riders gathered behind the chutes at the Mueller Civic Center in the green room for a 6:30 a.m. cup of coffee and perhaps a donut. Nerves were jangled and poems were practiced. The riders milled about exchanging pleasantries and wishing each other the best of luck.

photo by Smoke Wade
Andy Nelson

Each poet had a rodeo number pinned on their back. And what a diverse group of poets they were. Participants included Minnesota poets, Rich Bellert and Diane Tribitt; South Dakota poets, Ken Cook, Don Hilmer, Bonnie Krogman, Slim McNaught, and Jerry Simmons; Nebraska poets, Marty Blocker, Marci Broyhill, and Willard Hollopeter; Utah poets, Kenny Hall, Doug Keller, Paul Kern, Michael Robinson, and Gordon Thomas; Wyoming poets Ken Chrissley, Andy Nelson, John Crabtree, and Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns; Texas poets, Scott Hill Bumgardner, Linda Kirkpatrick, Rod Nichols, and Virginia Taylor. In addition were Smoke Wade, Nevada; Van Criddle, Oregon; Glen Enloe, Missouri; Slim Farnsworth, Colorado; Ron McDaniel, Arkansas; and Susan Parker, California.

photo by Smoke Wade
Virginia Taylor

At 7:00 a.m. sharp, the rodeo announcer, Andy Nelson called the first contestant, Rod Nichols, from the chute. Nichols set the bar by scoring a 44-point ride and the rodeo was in full swing. After the Rising star division was over the crowd broke for lunch. Some took the opportunity to browse the Western Arts and Trade show held in the lobby of the event center. Others shopped for CDs and poetry books at the product sales table. Most took the time to grab a hamburger and order of fries at local eateries.

After lunch, the Silver Buckle Division competition got under way. All participants in both divisions had a 5-minute time limit to complete their "ride," with points taken away if they exceeded the time limit. After the dust had settled, the top fifty percent of each event were notified they would advance to the finals on Saturday. Marty Blocker scored a high point ride of 50.5 in the Rising Star division while Linda Kirkpatrick won a high score of 52 in the Silver Buckle division.

Two evening shows took place on Friday night. The main show was the Badger Clark Hometown Poetry & Musical Gathering at the event center, which featured headliner Juni Fisher, Tennessee, along with Hill City Slickers, South Dakota, and various poets of the NCPR, including Don Hilmer, Susan Parker, Slim McNaught, and Willard Hollopeter. Robert Dennis, South Dakota, hosted the evening event much to the delight of a well-attended audience.

Across town at the Veteran’s Hospital, NCPR contests Van Criddle, Gordon Thomas and Smoke Wade presented a cowboy show hosted by Brad Exton and Bonnie Jo Benson, both of Utah and South Dakota. Brad and Bonnie Jo played music and sang as the Ramblin’ Rangers.

photo by Smoke Wade
Slim McNaught and Van Criddle

The NCPR finals got under way at 8:00 a.m. sharp, as the rodeo announcer, Andy Nelson, called Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns as first rider out for the day in the Rising Star division. Stearns set the score to beat at a total combined score of 85. One by one the riders came out of the chute gates, working their "mount" for all they were worth. By noon, the scores were final. The winning results were for the Rising Star division: Poet/Serious, Ken Cook—combined score of 97.5; Poet/Humorous, Slim Farnsworth96.5; Reciter/Serious, Marty Blocker98.5; and Reciter/Humorous, Marty Blocker100.

photo by Smoke Wade
Scott Hill Bumgardner, Glen Enloe, Rod Nichols, Slim Farnsworth

The Silver Buckle division winners were: Poet/Serious, Rod Nicholscombined score of 95.5; Poet/Humorous, John Crabtree96; Reciter/Serious, Linda Kirkpatrick104 (the high point ride of the event); and Reciter/Humorous, Smoke Wade99.5. Marty Blocker earned the overall Best of the Best trophy for overall high money earnings. Linda Kirkpatrick took home the trophy for high money in the silver buckle division. For the complete results of all NCPR finishers visit

After lunch on Saturday, the 10th NCPR Anniversary "Shoot-Out" took place with Smoke Wade as rodeo announcer. Seven contestants competed for the money with Andy Nelson taking first place with a combined score of 102.5. Ken Cook earned the second place winnings with a combined score of 101.5.

photo by Smoke Wade
Paul Kern and Ken Cook

Following the "Shoot-Out," the show went to the dogs. Suzy and Bob, both stock dogs, like to recite on the stage. Suzy came with Sam Jackson while Bob traveled with Rhonda Stearns. Suzy barked in perfect meter. Bob was best in presentation. And when all the barking was done, the competition came to a close.

photo by Smoke Wade
Suzy Jackson

A chuckwagon dinner was served at 5:00 p.m. followed by the Badger Clark Hometown Poetry & Musical Gathering Saturday night show. Andy Nelson hosted the evening festivities to the delight of the near capacity audience. The headline performers were Jean Prescott, Texas; Yvonne Hollenbeck, South Dakota; and the Circle B Cowboys of South Dakota. Some of the top winners of the NCPR also recited poetry on the evening show after being presented with their awards, including Ken Cook, Linda Kirkpatrick, and Marty Blocker. The Rising Star first place winners each received the coveted Silver Buckle while on stage.

After the evening show, many of the performers gathered for a late night jam session at Joel’s Dakota Grill. With the performances over and the competition completed, the poets relaxed to an evening of fun.

Early Sunday morning, many of the poets gathered for breakfast, visited for a while, said their farewells, and made ready for their journey home. Others stayed on a few days to visit the attractions of the Black Hills. They toured sites like Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, various limestone caverns, the town of Deadwood, and most revered of all, the Badger Hole – the mountain home of famed cowboy poet, Badger Clark.

If Badger Clark were alive today, he might have been well pleased with the pair of tens that came together in Hot Springs. South Dakotathe 10th NCPR and the 10th Badger Clark Hometown Poetry & Music Festival. Most certainly he would have joined in the festivities and he would have been the first to say on Sunday morning, "We will meet again somewhere along the cowboy poetry trail."



  Report and photos and captions by Slim McNaught
photo by Jen Dobrowski

World's Only National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo

“Toughest competition they’ve ever had!!” That’s a comment I heard several times over the two day rodeo event. We were at the tenth annual World’s Only National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo being held in Hot Springs, South Dakota, September 28 and 29, at the Mueller Civic Center at 801 South Sixth Street. Sam Jackson of Kanab, Utah, started this rodeo in Cedar City, Utah, and then moved it to Kanab, Utah, where it has flourished well. This event was being held for the first time in conjunction with the Hot Springs, South Dakota, Badger Clark Poetry & Musical Gathering. The Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, hosted the rodeo. Chamber member and program director for the Badger Clark Gathering, MaryJo Grill, together with Sam Jackson and crew, put on what is felt to be the best performance since the start. This was also the tenth annual Badger Clark Poetry and Musical Gathering, so that made the event that much more special. Getting these two top of the line entertainment venues worked into one great weekend of high quality professionalism took an extreme amount of work on the part of both entities, but they pulled it off in true cowboy fashion. A tip of the hat to George Kotti, executive director, Cathy Nelson, executive assistant and Pati Duff, events and marketing coordinator, Marilyn Kotti, and all the rest of the Hot Springs Chamber board members.          

photo by Slim McNaught
Mueller Center, Hot Springs, South Dakota, welcomes the World's Only National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo

Thursday morning started with a writers' workshop, hosted by Sam Jackson and Ed Nesselhuf. Valuable information was gained by the folks attending this class. After the workshop, contestants' numbers were drawn and placed on a board visible to the audience and judges. The judges' benches were set up, the time clock installed, the tally bosses table arranged next to the rodeo announcer’s stand, and a trial ride was performed to get the judges and the timer on track.

At seven o’clock that evening a jam session was held at the American Legion facilities. They had food and drinks available plus a stage and sound system for performers. The National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo staff also served some free snacks and soft drinks for the crowd. (Thanks, Sam). Several of us performed for an audience largely made up of performers attending the Rodeo.

The National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo is the brainchild of Sam Jackson who has copyrighted the Rules and Concept. As Sam points out, the Motto is “Excellence through Competition.” The Mission: “Encourage ‘fair’ poets to become ‘good’ and ‘good’ poets to become ‘better.’” The Challenge: “To apply fairness and consistency in judging the skills—and choosing the better performers ina cowboy poetry competition.” The Stage: “The National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo is an event, fashioned after a stock rodeo, designed to pit the skills of one cowboy poet against those of another in such a manner as to further develop the talents of both, with an over-riding goal of advancing the genre of cowboy poetry to a degree benefiting both performer and audience.”

Twenty-eight poets from 13 states are entered in 85 events: Rich Bellert, (Excelsior, Minnesota); Marty Blocker (Merriman, Nebraska); Marci Broyhill (Dakota City, Nebraska); Scott Hill Bumgardner (Houston, Texas); Ken Chrissley (Powell, Wyoming); Ken Cook (Martin, South Dakota); John Crabtree (Newcastle, Wyoming); Van Criddle (Eugene, Oregon); Glen Enloe (Independence, Missouri); Slim Farnsworth (Paonia, Colorado); Kenny Hall, Tropic, Utah; Don Hilmer (New Underwood, South Dakota); Willard Hollopeter (Wood Lake, Nebraska); Doug Keller (Kanab, Utah); Paul Kern (Sandy, Utah); Linda Kirkpatrick (Leakey, Texas); Bonnie Krogman (Wood, South Dakota); Ron McDaniel, (Sulphur Springs, Arkansas); Slim McNaught (New Underwood, South Dakota); Rod Nichols (Missouri City, Texas); Susan Parker (Benicia, California), Jerry Simmons (Sioux Falls, South Dakota), Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns (Newcastle, Wyoming); Virginia Taylor (Lockney, Texas); Gordon Thomas, (Genola, Utah); Diane Tribitt (Hillman, Minnesota); and Smoke Wade (Mesquite, Nevada).

photo by Slim McNaught
Marty Blocker, Van Criddle, and Slim Farnsworth checking the roster for their turns.

Friday morning found us gathered in the theater at the Mueller Center, checking our place on the roster. Starting with the Rising Star— Poet Serious event, continuing through the Rising StarPoet Humorous, on to the Rising StarReciter Serious and then to the Rising StarReciter Humorous, we all took our rides and received our scores. Each rider was allowed four minutes on the time clock, operated by Jeri Patzlaff, with a penalty added for each ten seconds over five minutes. The judges scored each rider and the score sheets were carried to the two tally bosses, John DeVries and Mark Kesseler, by the runner, Gale Patzlaff, for compiling of the rider’s total score for that ride. With five judges working this rodeo, the tally bosses take off the top and bottom scores and average the three remaining scores for the total. The five judges for this year’s event were: Ed Nesselhuf, foreman, with Yvonne Hollenbeck, Jeri Dobrowski, Verlin Pitt, and Robert Dennis, assistants. With rodeo announcer, Andy Nelson of Pinedale, Wyoming, keeping up a constant flow of jokes and comments while announcing the riders, it made for an interesting event. Sam Jackson, arena boss, kept the event on track.   

photo by Slim McNaught
Smoke Wade, running the gate into the Rodeo Grounds

The events in this Rodeo consist of two divisions, Rising Star and Silver Buckle. Anyone who has won in the Silver Buckle division in the past cannot enter the Rising Star division. However, anyone can enter the Silver Buckle division. The Rising Star division is made up of four events; Poet Serious and Poet Humorous (poets reciting their own material) and Reciter Serious and Reciter Humorous (folks reciting other people’s material). The Silver Buckle division is also made up of the four events; Poet Serious, Poet Humorous, Reciter Serious, and Reciter Humorous. After a lunch break we came back and the Rodeo continued with the Silver Buckle division.

Friday night’s entertainment was emceed by Robert "Jinglebob" Dennis, who has held this prestigious position the past ten years. Jinglebob is a singer/songwriter and cowboy poet who is a fourth generation rancher near Red Owl, South Dakota. When he’s not ranching or building saddles for the cowboys around, he performs at various events. The program was headlined by Juni Fisher, 2005 and 2006 Academy of Western Artists Western Female Vocalist of the Year and 2007 Top Five Nominations: WMA Female Vocalist of the Year; Songwriter of the Year; Song of the Year“I Hope She’ll Love Me”; Album of the Year“Cowgirlography.” As usual, Juni gave a flawless performance. On the program was the Hill City Slickers, a local trio who have been playing around the Black Hills since 1994. Jinglebob also performed some favorites for the crowd. Four of the poets who had placed in the days Rodeo came on and gave the audience some poetry. They were: Susan Parker, Willard Hollopeter, Don Hilmer, and Slim McNaught. The performance concluded with Juni Fisher again performing with her beautiful singing voice and excellent guitar playing.

Saturday morning we started back at the Rodeo at eight o’clock, with the top fifty percent of Fridays scoring riders performing. The roster was reversed, starting at the bottom and going up, with the same two divisions and the same four events in each division. This day’s scores were added to the Friday scores to give an aggregate total which determined the winners. In the Rising Star division (those who have not won an event in a previous rodeo) in Poet Serious (original poetry): 1st Ken Cook; 2nd Marty Blocker; 3rd Diane Tribitt; 4th Rod Nichols. In the Poet Humorous (original poetry): 1st Slim Farnsworth; 2nd Marty Blocker; 3rd Ken Cook and Ron McDaniel (tie); 4th John Crabtree. In Reciter Serious: 1st Marty Blocker; 2nd Rich Bellert; 3rd Diane Tribitt; 4th Susan Parker and Virginia Taylor (tie). In Reciter Humorous: 1st Marty Blocker; 2nd Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns; 3rd Susan Parker; 4th Paul Kern.

In the Silver Buckle division (those who have won an event in a previous rodeo and those other poets and reciters who want to enter) Poet Serious: 1st Rod Nichols; 2nd Linda Kirkpatrick and John Crabtree (tie); 3rd Van Criddle; 4th Slim McNaught and Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns (tie). Poet Humorous: 1st John Crabtree; 2nd Slim McNaught and Rod Nichols (tie); 3rd Slim Farnsworth. Reciter Serious: 1st Linda Kirkpatrick; 2nd Van Criddle; 3rd Smoke Wade; 4th Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns. Reciter Humorous: 1st Smoke Wade; 2nd Doug Keller; 3rd Van Criddle; 4th Linda Kirkpatrick.

Payoffs for the Rodeo were: Marty Blocker, Merriman, Nebraska, $1,248 and Silver Buckle and Best of the Best Trophy for overall high money, Rising Stars division; Ken Cook, Martin, South Dakota, $657 and Silver Buckle; Rod Nichols, Missouri City, Texas, $625; Slim Farnsworth, Paonia, Colorado, $585 and Silver Buckle; Linda Kirkpatrick, Leakey, Texas, $490 and Trophy for high money, Silver Buckle division; John Crabtree, Newcastle, Wyoming, $460; Smoke Wade, Mesquite, Nevada, $358; Van Criddle, Eugene, Oregon, $300; Diane Tribitt, Hillman, Minnesota, $278; Rhonda Stearns, Newcastle, Wyoming, $217; Rich Bellert, Excelsior, Minnesota, $137; Susan Parker, Benicia, California, $137; Doug Keller, Kanab, Utah, $137; Ron McDaniel, Sulphur Springs, Arkansas, $132; Slim McNaught, New Underwood, South Dakota, $120; Paul Kern, Salt Lake City, Utah, $66; Virginia  Taylor, Lockney, Texas, $40. A total purse of $6,050 was paid out to the winners of this Rodeo.

In the Tenth Anniversary Shoot-Out Andy Nelson of Pinedale, Wyoming won $840 and the first place trophy. Ken Cook of Martin, South Dakota won $280 and second place. This event is separate from the rest of the Rodeo events. With an entry fee of $200, anyone can enter. Seventy five percent of the entry fees go to first place and twenty five percent go to second place, less a few rodeo expenses. This event is judged and scored the same as the rest of the rodeo. There were six entries in the Shoot-Out.

The Saturday night entertainment was emceed by Andy Nelson and featured Yvonne Hollenbeck, Jean Prescott, The Circle B Cowboys, and the high scorers of the rodeo, Marty Blocker, Ken Cook, Linda Kirkpatrick, and Shoot-Out champ, Andy Nelson.

Yvonne Hollenbeck of Clearfield, South Dakota, is one of the most popular cowgirl poets in the nation today. A few of her awards: Academy of Western Artists Top Female Poet, Western Music Association Top Female Poet, Will Rogers Medallion Award for Excellence in Cowboy Poetry, 2003 Cowboy Poetry Rodeo winner of both serious and humorous categories, Female Poet of the Year Award, as well as several song collaborations with Jean Prescott.

Jean Prescott, a multiple award winning artist, and her song writing husband, Gary, live on a small ranch south of Abilene, Texas, where they raise paint and quarter horses and write and sing about the cowboy way of life. Jean can be heard weekly on the Red Steagall Cowboy Corner radio show, as well as many other western music radio programs across the U.S. She has had many top ten songs and her CD, Tapestry of the West, is currently one of the top ten albums on the national western music charts.
The Circle B Cowboys, with Dale, the father, and his three sons, Nick, Todd, and Zack, are seasoned entertainers. The Circle B Ranch Chuckwagon Suppers and Western Music Show is the only chuckwagon in South Dakota that qualifies to be a member of the Chuckwagons of the West Association, a membership that assures their customers the highest quality in food, music, and western hospitality.

photo by Slim McNaught
MaryJo Grill, Chamber member and program director for the Badger Clark Gathering. What a great job this lady did.

The awards for the rodeo event were awarded to the poets. George Kotti, MaryJo Grill, and Sam and Rene’e Jackson were honored for their part in making this national event such a success. After an evening of great entertainment with Andy, Yvonne, and Jean getting together for some humorous poetry and song, poems by Marty, Ken, and Linda, and some very good music by the Circle B Cowboys, the program came to a close.

We are all looking forward to another great gathering next year.

A special "Thank You" to the riders and fans from MaryJo Grill

Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski; see her gallery of western performers and others here.
Yvonne Hollenbeck and MaryJo Grill


Dear 2007 NCPR Poet "Riders" and Fans,

I would personally like to thank all of you for your participation in the 10th annual NCPR held this year in Hot Springs,  SD, in conjunction with our 10th annual Badger Clark Poetry/Music Gathering. What a wonderful group you were to meet and visit with  and how friendly and helpful you were to all of us.

I have received  so many emails and cards from many of you with "thanks" for our part, but we want to send a BIG "THANK YOU" to all of you. So many of you have made me feel like a part of your family and "family" was my main object of how I wanted YOU to feel when you arrived in Hot Springs.  I feel so rich and blessed in the friends that I gained and hope that we will all have a chance to be together again in 2008.

Congratulations to all the Rodeo winners!

Again, thanks to each and every one of you for your part in making  this event such a successful one.

                                                                                                     "Happy Trails Until We Meet Again"
                                                                                 MaryJo Grill, Program Director

More photos and links

Your photos and reports are welcome.  Email us.

Jeri Dobrowski shares photos below, and there are more photos from the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo in galleries at her web site,  in the 2007 Events and Gatherings section of her web site, where you can also order prints.

photo by Jeri Dobrowski; obtain permission for reproduction
Andy Nelson


photo by Jeri Dobrowski; obtain permission for reproduction
Marty Blocker, Andy Nelson, Ken Cook, and Linda Kirkpatrick


photo by Jeri Dobrowski; obtain permission for reproduction
Robert Dennis


photo by Jeri Dobrowski; obtain permission for reproduction
Ken Cook and Linda Kirkpatrick


photo by Jeri Dobrowski; obtain permission for reproduction
Kenny Hall


photo by Jeri Dobrowski; obtain permission for reproduction
Juni Fisher, Andy Nelson, and Rich Bellert


photo by Jeri Dobrowski; obtain permission for reproduction
The Cook Family: Ken, Kiel, Nancy, Andy Dawson, Kasey Jo (Cook) Dawson, and Kelly


National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo contestants, officials, and others pose following conclusion of rodeo.
photo by
Jeri Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
from Jeri L. Dobrowski, 1471 Carlyle Road, Beach, ND 58621 email  406-795-8168
To order, go to


Three generations of South Dakota's Cook family attended the events, and Ken Cook shared some of his photos:

photo courtesy Ken Cook
The Cook Family
Standing: Kiel, Nancy, and Ken
Seated: Betty, Kelly, Andy and Kasey Jo (Cook) Dawson


photo courtesy Ken Cook
Linda Kirkpatrick, Van Criddle, Scott Hill Bumgardner, Rod Nichols, and Ken Cook

photo courtesy Ken Cook
Ken Cook on stage

  South Dakota Public Radio's Dakota Digest for October 1, 2007, has an audio report by Jim Kent ( about the recent National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo. You can listen here on line. There are interviews with event organizer and Utah poet Sam Jackson and with poets Slim Farnsworth of Colorado and Virginia Taylor of Texas; excerpts from South Dakota poet Ken Cook's recitations; and more. The program is described, "For the last few days, Hot Springs has been filled with tall tales, homespun humor and, occasionally, a teary eye, as dozens of cowboy poets shared their words and talents. This year, the southern Black Hills town hosted the 10th annual National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo." Listen to the broadcast here.

Jim Kent also writes about the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo in an article, "Cowboys, Poets, and the Real West" in the Rapid City Journal, October 11, 2007.  He writes that the ranching and cowboy culture, "...was alive and well in Hot Springs at the 10th annual National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo. Not, as Yvonne Hollenbeck of Clearfield pointed out in verse, “cowboys” who only dressed the role. But the real deal...Men and women who make their living by being stewards of the land, as their families have for generations...." Read the entire article here.



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