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15th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, Kanab, Utah, August


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August, 2011
14th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo  Kanab, Utah

  story below by Sam Jackson

  additional story below  by Jim Cathey;   photos by Stella and Jim Cathey


15th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, Kanab, Utah

Sam Jackson

What's A Cowboy Poet To Do?

Cowboy poets win money and trophies and silver buckles! Just like in a stock rodeo where cowboys ride their broncos out of the pen in a timed competition, the cowboy poets in the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo came on stage to compete with their humorous or serious poetry, penned by themselves or reciting poetry of others, being timed, and being evaluated by a team of 5 judges.  

Contestants brought their best poetry to the Parry Lodge Old Barn Theater for the August 17-18, 2012 competition.  Poets from Australia, Mexico and several US States competed this year. Some were “greenhorns” and some had competed in previous years. 

Doug Keller (center)

Our own Doug Keller, Cowboy Poet Laureate of Kane County, pert near set a record, winning trophies in 3 of 4 "Silver Buckle" poetry categories. A poet from Texas, Jim Cathey, was the overall big money winner, placing first in three "Rising Star" categories, receiving a silver buckle, and the All Around Cowboy Poet trophy.

Jim Cathey

A poet from Australia, Bob Skelton, also won a silver buckle. The cowboy poet laureate of Oklahoma, Francine Robison and Kanab poet Hal Hamblin both just missed getting a silver buckle by a mere half a point! 

Bob Skelton

Francine Robinson

Hal Hamblin

Del Gustafson

Dave Baird provided airplane rides over Kanab as additional prizes for the winners.

Stella and Jim Cathey with Dave Baird

Three poets are also musicians: Almeda Bradshaw, from Montana, plays guitar and often "sings" her poetry; Dick Warwick, from Washington, plays harmonica and guitar to accompany his singing. 

Dick Warwick

“Duke” Hunter, a Colorado poet/ musician, plays bagpipes, and thrilled the attendees at Sunday morning's Cowboy Church with "Amazing Grace." These and other poets also performed at various Western Legends Round-Up venues, as well as performing a 2 hour program at the Kane County Fair. 

Sam DeLeeuw and Almeda Bradshaw

Judges for this year's event were:  C.R. Wood, cowboy poet; Rod Miller, author and poet; Stephen Armstrong, professor at Dixie State College; and Dennis Judd, one of the original founders of Western Legends RoundUp. Sam DeLeeuw, long-time cowboy poet and winner of numerous awards, was the judge foreman.

Rod Miller, judge, also presented a workshop

The National Cowboy Poet Rodeo, now in its 16th year, was founded by Sam Jackson. He and his wife Rene'e look forward to many more years of producing the world's only cowboy poetry rodeo.

Winners Bob Skelton, Jim Cathey, Doug Keller, and Dick Warwick

Howdy Folks!

by Jim Cathey (from his column in the Marlin Democrat)

Howdy Folks, hope you have had your coffee.

Am I excited! The 2012 National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo is now history and I was successful in getting that top slot and a silver buckle. I entered all four events offered in the Rising Star Division and won first place in three events and a third in the other. The Rising Star Division is open only to those poets that have not had a first place finish with a Silver Buckle award. The Silver Buckle Division is open to everyone regardless of past performance. I only entered one event of four events in the Silver Buckle and officially placed third. The final total gave me The All Around Cowboy Poet Champion award.

The competition was tough and the poets were good and I was fortunate to be able to score high enough to gain the win. Though it is called “The National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo” it actually should be called the “International” since we had participants from several countries. In fact, the emcee, Smoke Wade, said, “We have contestants from four countries…The United States, Mexico, Australia, and Texas!”

Emcee Smoke Wade

This year, we had a fine bunch of Cowboy and Cowgirl Poets that included the Cowboy Poet Laureates from Kane County Utah and Oklahoma. The Australian poet has won numerous awards from down under and others have won awards for poems, books, and films.

Sam Jackson is the originator of this venue and this is the 15th anniversary for the rodeo. Jackson’s goal was to make fair poets good and good poets better. The winners in each event were the entertainment on Friday night for the Kane County Fair and then performed at the Saturday night Western Legends gala production.

This year, Dale Evans' and Roy Rogers' granddaughter narrated a film about the silver screen stars and then Lynn Anderson finished with her great performance that included, “I Beg Your Pardon, I Never Offered You A Rose Garden.” This brought a standing ovation. I was the last performer before she came on and it was quite a thrill! Later, she joined us for a late night jam session. “It don’t get no better than that!”



See our feature on the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo here, and find the official 2012 results on that page, here.



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