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Kanab (Utah) August 


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August, 2005
Annual Western Legends Celebration  Kanab, Utah

story and photos by Linda Kirkpatrick

17th Annual Western Legends Round-up

Kanab, Utah-Surrounded by the Vermillion Cliffs, the little town of Kanab, Utah came alive with poets, musicians and stars of the past and present in late August.  Fifty years ago the much-watched western series of Gunsmoke made its debut on the television screen. The Western Legends Roundup celebrated this series with its theme," Fifty Years of Gunsmoke." Clips from this, the longest running television dramatic series, were shown through out the event.

This year's night show headliners were Baxter Black, Sons of the San Joaquin and
Curly Musgrave & Belinda Gail.  Baxter Black is the best selling cowboy poet in the world.  He is a poet, an author, a syndicated columnist, radio commentator and a right funny "feller" who has been there and done that!  He continues the cowboy tradition from his ranch in Arizona.

The Sons of the San Joaquin hail from the Great Central Valley of California.  Lon Hannah, plus his father and uncle, Jack Hannah and Joe Hannah were invited to Elko in 1989.  It was then that they joined up with Michael Martin Murphey.  They performed on his "Cowboy Songs" album and have not stopped since.  The blend of their harmony adds a wonderful sound to cowboy music.

The melding of the voices of Curly Musgrave and Belinda Gail is a wonder to behold.  These two have individually and as a duo been honored with many awards. After you have hear them sing songs like "Daddy's Hat," "Cowboy Sweetheart" or "Cowboy True" there is not a doubt in anyone's mind as to their ability and popularity.  Together they not only sing a beautiful melody but they also write many of the great songs that they perform.  They are a group that is not to be missed.

Belinda Gail on the main stage

Last year the crowd was entertained by the Ranch Wife Fashion Show. The Ranch Wife Fashion Show was the inspiration of poet Yvonne Hollenbeck. Models for the attire of the typical or not so typical ranch wife were local dignitaries and actors.  Oh and did I say that they were all men?  Well, following in this tradition and in keeping with the theme of this year's event, The Ladies of the Longbranch made a special appearance on Thursday night.  Once upon a time and long, long ago these were the beautiful assets of the Longbranch but time most definitely has taken its toll on these one
time beauties.  The audience was somewhat surprised to see the results that time or something dealt these special girls.  It was even difficult for Curly to honor them by crooning, "You Are So Beautiful!"  These guys really brought the house down.

Curly serenades the ladies

Johnny Western, Rex Allen Jr., Duke Davis and Sean Blackburn also added their singing talents to the night shows.  The night shows were emceed by the hilarious Andy Nelson.  Andy and his brother Jim add their antics to their Clear Out West radio show which can be heard on their website at

Popular emcee Andy Nelson

The Young Poets of Utah, organized by Jo Lynne Kirkwood, graced the stage on Friday night.  The youngest poet was cute as a button in her cowboy hat and jeans, just three years old.  

The next generation cowboy poet

It was then up to renowned poet, humorist and entertainer Baxter Black to bring the house down and that he did with ease and grace.  Baxter's ability to say just one word and get a laugh is so amazing.  If he needs a rhyming word and there is not one to be found he will just make one up which I am quite sure would have driven Mr. Webster crazy.   There is hardly a subject in the west that Baxter cannot address in one way or the other no matter if it is just a rope or something as complicated duck hunters.

Baxter Black on stage

It is a known fact that the west has depended on family ranching systems to keep the west and the cowboy alive.  This tradition has been carried on by the sons of Preston Bunting.  Preston began ranching in 1948 and after World War II his three sons, Ronnow, James and George joined him in the ranching and market business in the Kanab area.  Because of their long devotion to family traditions this family was honored into the Hall of Fame.

The Preston Bunting family

And what would any ranch be without a water well driller?  It was a thrill to see William Lloyd "Beeb" Cothern inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Beeb was born in Brice, Texas in 1921.  He also served in World War II and spent time as a POW in Stalag 4B.  He was later freed and returned home to a job working as a driller in Colorado.  He later moved to Kanab where he helped drill the deepest water well in the area.  It is time that men like Beeb are honored because without the well driller many ranchers would be out of business today.

William Lloyd "Beeb" Cothern gets his award

The Saturday night show was opened by the Paria River Band.  This local band was very well received.  Curly Musgrave and Belinda Gail sang a wonderful rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner."

The winners of the Cowboy Poetry Rodeo received their buckles, awards and prize money during the Saturday night show. 
Lanny Joe Burnett, Jane Morton, Dick Morton and Doug Keller were first place winners in the Rising Star division.  In the Silver Buckle division, Michael Robinson, Phil Kennington and Jay Snider were the top winners, with Jay winning two events.  Read more about these folks and the Cowboy Poetry Rodeo here.

Sam Jackson, originator and producer of the Cowboy Poetry Rodeo,
on stage at the Western Legends Roundup

Cowboy Poetry Rodeo Rising Star winner Lanny Joe Burnett

Cowboy Poetry Rodeo Silver Buckle winner Jay Snider

The Western Legends Walk of Fame Honorees for 2005 are James Drury, Buck Taylor, L. Q. Jones, Penny Edwards, Johnny Western and Morgan Woodward. These folks have done much to preserve our western culture and heritage. The Walk Of Fame is Kanab's way of paying tribute to the actors and actresses who appeared in movies and TV shows filmed in the Kanab area.

Along with workshops, Dutch oven cooking, quilting and other events it is easy to say that this was another successful Western Legends Roundup.


More photos:

Saturday's parade down Main Street

Rex Allen Jr. and Johnny Western backstage

Belinda Gail and Curly Musgrave and a fan

Baxter signs books and CDs after the show

Cowboy Poetry Rodeo judge Yvonne Hollenbeck and one of the champions, Lanny Joe Burnett


Visit the Western Legends Roundup site for more information about their event, which includes the Cowboy Poetry Rodeo.

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