Cowboy Poetry and Western Life

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Vinton (California) September


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September, 2006
Vinton (California) September   Vinton, California

Report by Marcia Dickey with photos and captions by Jean Myles


Nestled in the beautiful Sierra Valley, the little town of Vinton, California, plays host to not one but two Cowboy Poetry & Western Music festivals each year. The Fall, 2006 festival took place the weekend of
September 22 and 23 and it was great.

George Dickey, Steve Mize, Carol Schley, Andy Nelson and Jim Cardwell

Entertainers at the festival included poets Andy Nelson and Jim Cardwell; musicians Carol Schley and Steve Mize of Prairie Moon, and George Dickey. Many people who attended thought this was the best festival they had been to in Vinton.

Andy Nelson, cowboy poet and humorist, held the audience in his hands
from the minute he stepped on stage. Here he is describing
       the job of a farrier, one who had a plumber's problem.  He had
the audience rocking with laughter.

Andy Nelson, cowboy poet and humorist, kept the audience in stitches with his antics, jokes and cowboy poetry. He also gave the audience a taste of his more serious side each set with a poem that appealed to our deeper emotions. Andy and his brother James host a weekly syndicated radio show called "Clear Out West" and if it is anything like Andy's live performances, it is a must hear [ed.: visit the Clear Out West web site; the program is available on demand on the web].

Jim Cardwell, an organic farmer with a subtle wit, had both funny
and serious tales.

Jim Cardwell's poetry was at times inspiring and other times hilarious. This part-time working cowboy and full time registered nurse also makes some of the best organic salsa this side of the Pecos. A side of Jim you might not have had the pleasure of hearing is his beautiful a capella versions of his poetry. His voice is nothing short of mesmerizing.

Carol Schley and Steve Mize. Carol's lilting voice brought their 
songs to life.

Western musicians Carol Schley and Steve Mize formed the group Prairie Moon in 2002, which is dedicated to performing and preserving the music of the American West, and boy do they! Their individually great voices combined makes for some great harmony. They had the audience toe tapping and clapping to the beat of their music. The audience was invited to sing along on the more traditional songs in their sets and many of us did just that.

George Dickey's warm baritone was pure joy to listen to.

Western Music festival regular George Dickey rounded out the entertainment line up at this years Fall Festival. George's great love of the west and admiration for the cowboys who work it is evident in the music he writes and performs. To quote O. J. Sikes, "George has a mature, somewhat rustic voice that lends itself to cowboy music". You only have to catch George once to know that singing and song writing are integral parts of his life.

Some people asked,  "Just what does Betty Ramelli not do?"

All in all, this was one terrific festival. Betty Ramelli and her committee did a great job of organizing the event and keeping it on schedule. In addition to treating the talent and their spouses like royalty, they also put on two terrific meals. So, if you're looking for a great place to hear cowboy poetry and western music, mark your calendars now for March 16 and 17, 2007. Tickets will be on sale in February. By the way, if you do go, watch for the rhubarb pie on the dessert table. There isn't much of it but it is to die for so don't hesitate to grab a piece if there's still one there.

Information about the March, 2007 Vinton Festival can be found here at or by emailing Betty Ramelli at

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