Cowboy Poetry and Western Life

Events and Festivals

Gathering Reports


We invite folks to send in reports about gatherings.

Following are reports about events that 
are linked from event listings on the Events page. 

(Some links may be out of date.)

2007 Reports

January - February


Arvada (Colorado) January

Bowring (Nebraska) January

Chadron (Nebraska) January

Ft. Worth (Texas) January

Philip (South Dakota) February

Elko (Nevada) January-February separate pages

Sierra Vista (Arizona) February separate page

Lordsburg (New Mexico) February

Moab (Utah) February  separate page

Alpine (Texas) February separate page

Ellensburg (Washington) February separate page

See March-April 2007 reports here
See May-July 2007 reports here

See August-September 2007 reports here
See October-December reports here

See reports from 2006 here
See reports from 2005 here
See reports from 2004 here
See reports from 2003 here
See reports for 2002 here
Reports from 2000- 2001 are here


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Back on home . . .


January, 2007
The 18th Annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Arvada, Colorado 

story and photos by Yvonne Hollenbeck with additional photos by Rex Rideout
with additional commentary by Donna Hatton below

Cold temperatures, snow and icy streets did not deter the many fans from turning out for the 18th Annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering held at the magnificent Arvada Center for the Arts at Arvada, Colorado, this past
January 11 through 14.


photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck
John Fisher of the Yampa Valley Boys, Juni Fisher, Andy
Nelson, Steve Jones of the Yampa Valley Boys, Ann Sochat, DW Groethe, and
Yvonne Hollenbeck

After a welcome reception by the committee, headed up by coordinators Liz Masterson, Maryanne Patterson and Becky Wilcox, an evening performance kicked off the weekend of activities, featuring Andy Nelson, DW Groethe, Juni Fisher, Ann Sochat and the Yampa Valley Boys, hosted by Yvonne Hollenbeck

photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck
Frank Wolking of Sons and Brothers, Juni Fisher, Pop Wagner, Jean
Prescott, Ray Owens and Liz Masterson

Entertaining at the other featured performances on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as matinee performances on Saturday and Sunday afternoons were Pop Wagner, Sid Hausman, Chuck Larsen, Prickly Pair, Doris Daley, Skip Gorman, Richard Elloyan, Jean Prescott, Ray Owens, Zeb Dennis, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Dave Stamey, Bill Barwick, Leslie Keltner, Patty Clayton and Cimarron Wind, O'Brien Family Band, Milton Taylor, Jon Chandler and the Wichitones, Tim Nolting, Liz Masterson and the Corn Beef Wranglers, and Colorado's Sons and Brothers.

photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck
Zeb Dennis, Tim Nolting and Dave Stamey

Equally talented artists rounded out the roster as daytime performers, including Vic Anderson, Jerry "Brooksie" Brooks, Duane Dickinson, Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout, Tom and Donna Hatton, Michael Hurwitz, Johnny Kendrick, Al Mehl, Otto Rosfeld, Georgie Sicking, and Scott Taylor. Several newcomers made their debut at Arvada, such as cowgirl poet Diane Tribitt of Hilman, Minnesota, who certainly impressed the many folks who enjoyed her performances.  It was also exciting to listen to new groups such as Liz Masterson's Corn Beef Wranglers and Patty Clayton's Cimarron Wind, which included some outstanding musicians and harmonies.  Colorado folks were more than proud of "Sons and Brothers" of rural Westcliffe, which consist of Frank Wolking and his equally talented sons, Aaron, Mike, and Joe, who received a number of standing ovations for their great performances.

photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck
Milton Taylor and Doris Daley


photo by Rex Rideout
Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout

A new cabaret-style 200 seat theatre has been added to the beautiful Arvada Center, which was certainly a great addition to the gathering as a whole and a help in accommodating the many people that attend this event.  In addition
to the featured performances held in the large auditorium, there are five other venues, including those in the Black Box Theatre presented on an hourly basis all day on Friday and Saturday, providing continuous top-notch entertainment.  Make plans to attend the 19th annual gathering next January.

photo by Rex Rideout
Jean Prescott, Georgie Sicking, DW Groethe, Doris Daley, and Liz Masterson



Poet Doris Daley graced the cover of the 2007 program 

Thanks to DW Groethe for the program



  Commentary by Donna Hatton

[ photo by Lori Faith Merritt,]

    The Epic Arvada Cowboy Gathering

January has actually been a mild time of the year for the Arvada Cowboy Poetry Gathering for quite some time, but not this January, this January has the "Lion of Winter." We left home in bright sunshine on Thursday to head to the gathering our spirits were high because we were finally under blue skies again and we were going to go play. Tom and I sang and talked our way through the mountains and then as we started our decent down highway 285 and on to I-70 we were suddenly in thick fog. However our enthusiasm wasn't dulled by the weather because we were headed for a family reunion so to speak and we were not going to let a little fog ruin our day.

As the gathering got started it was a constant whirlwind of activity, sort of like being in an ant hill, and since there were thirty sessions a day and over 39 performers we were definitely those ants! Even with the cold
and snowy weather the turn out was substantial and our audiences filled the rooms and the hallways with expectation as we went from session to session. Performers and spectators alike, from coast to coast and internationally, were treated to a smorgasbord of poetry, music, laughter and tears starting with the first greetings and then again with the good-byes. Speaking with the attendees we found that it was the general consensus that this was the best ever, but then as one of the volunteers, Bill Kiser told me," every year is special and every year the best."  The volunteers are a selfless group of folks like Mary Raven, one of the lovely ladies on hand and just one of the many men and women who manned the artists' books and CD table, the coffee, tea and food concessions, monitored the session rooms, kept the water pitchers full and greeted us with smiles everyday, all day. If any of us were still in need of assistance we had only to turn to Tom Corona and George Jorgensen to send us off in the right direction and to give encouragement when energy seemed to flag. 

When we say Arvada Gathering is a well organized machine and one of the top of the gatherings in the West we have is our own songstress Liz Masterson to thank, who seemed to be everywhere at once along with her Assistants, Maryanne Patterson and Becky Wilcox. Every one of the staff are excellence personified and to each and every one we send a thank you for meeting our needs before we even knew we needed anything at all and to the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities for providing a wonderful setting for the gathering, it is a class act all the way.

The sessions are themed and the array of subject matter shows the depth of cowboy ingenuity and intellect and there was without a doubt something for everyone.  It was an over-the-top experience and we wondered "Could it get any better than this?" Every session was as challenging and thrilling as the last and  the talent was exceptional. As I spoke with Bill Barwick, the spokesperson for the Westerns Channel, he asked me who and what had impressed me the most. So, what about what Bill had asked me, what had impressed me the most?  I was so impressed with the respect that the performers in all the sessions had for each other, the care that went into crafting each session to create a show with compatibility between each performer. As performers we often cross each others trail as we travel to other gatherings and festivals and occasionally we find ourselves together in far flung places as we perform, it is at those times that a certain chemistry starts to simmer and as it bubbles and seethes up through the cracks magic happens. These magical moments erupt to the delight and enjoyment of all and while many of these are not planned they are the serendipity moments that only happen when they are the least expected. At this gathering there were many such moments and will be remembered as classics in the coming years. From sold-out night shows and afternoon matinees and standing-room-only day sessions, these achievements speak volumes for this gathering's popularity.

I can only speak from our experiences in our sessions of course, but from talking with other performers and audiences, everyone shared those same thrilling moments. It was the personal touch and the ability of the
performers who carried the audiences with them on a journey through time and space where we all shared again that wonderful adventure of the Cowboy with each other and the world we live in.

January, 2007
Bowring Ranch Third Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering  
Merriman, Nebraska

  Story and captions by Slim McNaught; photos by Slim McNaught and Diane Burress
[photo of Slim McNaught by Jen Dobrowski]

Nestled in the sandhills north and east of Merriman, Nebraska, lies the headquarters of the historical Bowring Ranch. Arthur Bowring homesteaded here in 1894. After the death of his widow, Eva Kelly Bowring in 1985, the ranch was donated to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to remain a working ranch. It became a state historical park dedicated to preserving the history of the cattle industry in Nebraska, especially in the Sandhills region of Cherry county. Artifacts and memorabilia from the lives of Arthur and Eve Bowring as well as displays from the cattle industry may be seen at the Visitor's Center.

On a rather chilly January 21, 2007, at two o'clock in the afternoon, we arrived at the ranch. The gatherings are held in the Eve Bowring Visitor Center, located on the grounds at the ranch headquarters. What a great museum they have there, but be prepared to spend some time because there is so much to see there. This is an excellent accommodation for a poetry gathering, with a neat little theater area. 

Bill and Terrie Jo Gibbons were playing guitar and Bill was singing before the program got under way, just to warm things up. Emcee Duane Bellin of Valentine, Nebraska, got us all lined up and started the show. Poets Marty Blocker of Merriman, Nebraska; Ken Moreland of Merriman, Nebraska, Willard Hollopeter of Wood Lake, Nebraska; Ken Cook
 of Martin, South Dakota; and me, Slim McNaught of New Underwood, South Dakota, recited two pieces each with the musical section performing between each poet performer. 

The musicians, Bill and Terrie Jo Gibbons, John Le Boeuf, Bill and Jeanie Hines, Tom and Karen Cobb, and band leader Brett Burress, took their turns with some great music. Very accomplished musicians. After a couple more rounds for all of the performers, Steve Moreland of Merriman, Nebraska, performed a piano solo very professionally. A pot luck supper was served with  great food and desserts that no one could resist. 

This gathering is put together and managed by Diane Burress. Diane is the Temporary Park Superintendent, but has worked at the Park for seven years as Tourism Facility Operator. Assisting her for the afternoon was Patty Bader, a temporary Park Worker. Diane presented a well organized poetry and music jam, with everything going smoothly and a great time had by all. I don't know who had the most fun, the audience or the performers. After a very enjoyable time visiting we reluctantly loaded up and headed up the trail for home. But we are going back when we can spend more time and go through the museum and the sod house. What a neat place.

January, 2007
2nd Annual Chadron State College Cowboy Poetry Gathering   Chadron, Nebraska

Story and photos by Geff Dawson  
   additional story by Harold Roy Miller with photos by Diana Miller below
   additional story by Slim McNaught with photos below

In a beautiful combination of the Nebraska Sand Hills, a National Forest and a blanket of snow, sets Chadron State College Campus and home of the 2007 Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Most of the poets arrived on Friday to check-in and receive a nice gift pack in their rooms from the gathering organizers, Loree MacNeill and her "wonder girl" Danielle Hencey of the College Relations and Cultural Programs at Chadron State College.

Eldon Housley, Waddie Mitchell, and Geff Dawson

There was a reception and open house on Friday at 4:00 along with a western art show and sale.  That evening a Bluegrass Group, the Bald Mountain Rounders, took the stage at Memorial Hall followed by the Friday evening headliner performers, the Prairie Rose Wranglers from Wichita, Kansas.  They took the stage and performed to rave reviews.  Later, a western music and poetry jam session took place at the meeting room back at the hotel.  A good time was had by all.

Bonnie Krogman                                                 Tim Nolting 

Saturday morning the poetry sessions began in the Sand Hills Room at the Student Center.  Morning performers were Deb Carpenter,
Robert Dennis, Ken Cook, Willard Hollopeter, Bonnie Krogman, Slim McNaught and Otto Rosfeld. Around 100 people filled the room to watch the morning session.  During a private lunch for the cowboy poets, there were many stories and tales shared.  

Danielle Hencey, Ken Cook (with switched hats) and Slim McNaught

The afternoon session drew another big crowd to watch Tim Nolting, Jerry Schleicher, Curt Cooper, Theresa Orr, Harold Roy Miller, Geff Dawson, Ken Cook, Eldon Housley, and Mike Moutoux.  A wonderful cowboy chuck wagon supper was served that evening with cowboy stew, cornbread and cobbler. Waddie Mitchell took the night stage back at Memorial Hall to finish off the gathering in style with a very entertaining performance.

Geff Dawson and his "Cowboy Cow Bawlers" Mike Moutoux, Tim Nolting, and Eldon Housley

Waddie and all the poets were invited downtown to a private gathering by Lorree and Danielle to enjoy food and beverages.  Stories, laughter and friendship were enjoyed by all.  Everyone is already looking forward to the 2008 gathering at the beautiful Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska. Congratulations to Loree and Danielle for hosting and organizing one of the best gatherings around!

Loree MacNeill and Danielle Hencey

Story by Harold Roy Miller with photos by Diana Miller 
     additional story and photos by Geff Dawson above
     additional story and photos by Slim McNaught

The Chadron College second annual cowboy poetry gathering was held Friday and Saturday, January 19-20, 2007.  The weather kindly cooperated, and it was actually warmer in Nebraska than in Nevada!

It started off Friday afternoon with a Western Art Show & Sale followed by evening entertainment by the Bald Mountain Rounders, a bluegrass band, and the Prairie Rose Wranglers, who have performed at Carnegie Hall and in 2006
took "The Great American Cowboy" to China.

Poets Tim Nolting, Curt Coooper, Thresa Orr, Harold Roy Miller, Otto Rosefield Ken Cook,
Bonnie Krogman, Robert Dennis Willard Hollopeter, Jerry Schleicher, Slim McNaught, Debbie Carperter Mike Moutoux Not pictured: Geff Dawson and Eldon Housley

On Saturday morning starting at 10 am, the poets began.  The line-up included talent from the surrounding area and from Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota and Wyoming.  Performing were:

Deb Carpenter, local historian, poet and songwriter, beautifully singing remembrances of life in pioneer days
Robert Dennis, a fourth-generation rancher/cowboy who writes, recites and sings cowboy poetry
Ken Cook, a rancher who's humor and love of family are evident in each line he speaks
Willard Hollopeter, a retired rancher with a weekly radio program, whose poetry reflects both experience and imagination
Bonnie Krogman, sharing the exasperating and hilarious experiences of a rancher's wife
Slim McNaught, cowboy, poet, leather worker, business man, writer, columnist and publisher
Otto Rosfield, local farmer/rancher/auctioneer/poet who sings and yodels with the best of them--using a washboard as instrument!
Tim Nolting, cowboy/historian who's eloquent poetry transports the listener back to cowboy life in the old days
Jerry Schleicher, spinning poetic yarns about colossal grasshoppers and agricultural issues
Curt Cooper, a lifelong cowboy intent on keeping the cowboy heritage alive 

Curt Cooper

Theresa Orr, beautifully singing songs of rural family life and patriotic pride
Harold Roy Miller, horseman, historian, songwriter and contemporary poet sharing about cowboys, horses and women
Geff Dawson, rodeo cowboy/shoer/horse trainer/poet/songwriter and singer whose lively performance will perk up any crowd
Eldon Housley, Arizona cowboy sharing in poem the adventures of his grandson Jake and cattle dog Buster
Mike Moutoux, working cowboy, poet, songwriter and musician with a fine voice and entertaining tales

Mike Moutoux

After the final performance and group photos, an open mic session was held while a fine cowboy supper was being prepared.

The party for poets  Geff Dawson (l) and Willard Hollopeter (r)

At 8 pm the poets were themselves treated to a performance by entertainer Waddie Mitchell, and afterwards enjoyed a private party with Waddie until they couldn't keep their eyes open any longer.

Chadron College puts on a fine poetry gathering and is seeking nominations for poets for next year's gathering.

  Story, photos, and captions by Slim McNaught
     additional story and photos by Geff Dawson above
     additional story by 
Harold Roy Miller with photos by Diana Miller above


Wow! What a change! Thirty degrees below zero on February 18, 2006, to thirty degrees above zero on January 20, 2007! So went the second annual 2007 Chadron State College Cowboy Poetry and Invitational Western Art Show and Sale. (Wheew! That's a long one.)  It just keeps getting better and I don't mean just the temperature. New poets and musicians, more audience, more art work, great entertainment. What
Loree MacNeill and Danielle Hencey have done with this event is phenomenal. And Chadron State College is to be commended for offering the availability and funding for such programs.

The gathering started at 4:00 PM on Friday, January 19, 2007, with a performer's sign-in and hors d'oeuvres in the Memorial Hall. The art gallery was full of excellent art work by sixteen artists from six states. It took quite a while to browse through there and see it all. 

Five o'clock saw the start of the evenings entertainment with the band, Bald Mountain Rounders from right there in Chadron. The group consists of John Shafer, Robin Smith, Jack Honerkamp, and Norm Martin. They proved that there is great local talent in this area for folks to enjoy. After these talented locals ended their show at seven o'clock, the
Prairie Rose Wranglers came on at seven thirty with a full head of steam. "Ultra Slim" Orin Friesen, "Tennessee" Jim Farrell, and "Cyclone" Stu Stuart, entertained the audience with an array of musical renditions and some very humorous jokes.
After the evening entertainment the poets retired to the conference room at the Motel 6 and a lively jam session that lasted longer than I did. We all performed several pieces before I played out and went to bed. These jam sessions are very enjoyable get-togethers for the poets and musicians. A great chance to mingle and compare material. 

Saturday morning at nine, Darlene and I arrived at the Student Center where the day's poetry was to be performed. Darlene set up a very attractive display of our hand tooled and hand made leather items and my books and CD. We do this at many of the gatherings. She delights the browsers with presentations and descriptions of our leather items while I recite poetry.

The poetry gathering started off at ten o'clock with Deb Carpenter on her guitar getting the show going. Robert Dennis, Ken Cook, Willard Hollopeter, Bonnie Krogman, Slim McNaught, and Otto Rosfeld were the next performers taking us to lunch break. The poets and musicians were given sack lunches and time to relax and visit. After lunch Tim Nolting, Jerry Schleicher, Curt Cooper, Bonnie Krogman, and Willard Hollopeter kept the audience entertained until the next break. After the break Theresa Orr, Harold Roy Miller, Geff Dawson, and Slim McNaught took us to the last break. From there it was Ken Cook, Jerry Schleicher, Eldon Housley and Mike Moutoux keeping the place jumping with poetry and music until the performance was finished. There were fifteen poets and musicians from seven states in attendance. What a great variety.

As usual, some good natured "horse play" took place with Geff Dawson getting Mike Moutoux, Tim Nolting, and Eldon Housley on stage to beller like calves and cows while he  picked his guitar and sang. Very funny, but Mike Moutoux got even with Geff by summoning up two young husky "calf rasslers" out of the audience who immediately put Geff in the "branding position" (he kinda played along) at the direction of Moutoux. Hilarious. 

Mike Moutoux, Tim Nolting, Eldon Housley, the "calves and cow bawling" while Geff Dawson "serenades" the audience

"Calf Dawson" at Mike Moutoux's brandin'

Danielle Hencey, Loree MacNeill's assistant, was wearing a pink straw hat which somehow wound up on the head of Ken Cook. At the insistence of several of the poets and audience, Ken recited a poem on stage while wearing the pink hat.

Ken Who??

What good sports these people were and what a fun time we all had. After the scheduled poetry sessions were over, a
cowboy supper was served. Cowboy stew, corn bread, cobblers, drinks, salads, etc. Excellent food. Then it was open mike time, with some local talent performing plus some of the performing poets filling in. From there we went to Memorial Hall and the
Waddie Mitchell show. What a great poet. He's lived the cowboy life and it shows in his poetry and his presentation. 

After the show the poets gathered with Waddie at Fiek's 120 bar/restaurant for refreshments, food, and visiting. What a grand evening Loree and Danielle from the College put together for all of us. I played out somewhere near midnight, just as the jam session was about to begin.

This whole gathering is arranged, managed, manned, and just generally all-around put together by two very charming ladies. Loree MacNeill, Director of Cultural Programs/College Relations, and her very able assistant and right hand, Danielle Hencey. Danielle is a senior and will be graduating this year so she won't be assisting next year. We all moaned and wailed because she will be gone, but I know Loree will handle things with the same professional ability she has shown in the past. Probably with a new assistant. Time will tell. We'll just have to wait until next year to find out.

 Loree MacNeill and Danielle Hencey, the "Do'ers"


January, 2007
"Campfire Tales" at the Fort Worth Stock Show  Fort Worth, Texas

009.jpg (7751 bytes)   Story and photo by Charles Williams



A show that was ten years in the making hit the Ft. Worth Stock Show over the 22nd and 23rd of January. Enthusiastic audiences greeted the Tenth Annual Edition of Campfire Tales in the West Arena.  As it was a reunion show, great performances by nearly seventy performers, both new and returning, were their reward, as cowboy songs, cowboy poetry, stories and Western swing entertained, amused and thrilled the very young to seasoned citizens. Enthusiastic enjoyment was the universal order of the day on both sides of the microphone.  

John Buttrum again served as Master of Ceremonies, with his unique brand of Buttrum humor. Among the returning favorites, Linda Kirkpatrick, Curly Butts, Monte Teel, Francine Roark Robison, B.J. Giles, Lanny Joe Burnett, and Teresa Burleson provided outstanding cowboy poetry. They were aided in bring verbal culture to the show by newcomers to Campfire Tales, Joe Wells and Diane Thompson. As great as the poets were, and they were outstanding, it was the music that made this show "the best we've ever presented" (in the words of Charles Williams).  

An incredible mix of super music, both played and sung, by such renowned performers as Judy James (with special help by Carter James), Tim Graham, Jack Blease, Tom "Tye Chison" Hanshew, Stan Mahler, Billy Joe Rogers, The Terry Family (Bob, Gwendolyn—under the stage name "Johnie"—and son Chance), Hank Elling and highly talented teenage fiddler Jess Meador joined in. Janet McBride, with her very special brand of song and yodeling, lead a special hour of music that also highlighted Buck "The Big Man" Helton, Devon Dawson, Jack Byrd, Al "Cornbread" Conner, Jess, and Jack Walton. It was topped off with debut of the Bremer Family—Johnnie, Charlie, Jessica and Joseph—kids who have a great future. Many of them also performed with The Cowtown Opry's guest appearance Monday afternoon. The Cowtown Opry is a staple in the Stock Yards every Sunday afternoon, and were welcome guests at Campfire Tales.  

Newcomer to Campfire Tales Frank Roberts teamed with Joe Wells, and we were honored to have Canada's Greatest Cowboy Singer Ryan Fritz join us. Three very special musical guests joined as well: Steve Scheck returned after a (too) long absence, Ginny Mac (with brother Glenn) wove her magic, and newcomer to Campfire Tales but no stranger to Western music lovers Bob Campbell made his Stock Show debut.  We hope all three will return in the future, as they are great crowd pleasers. 

Joe Wells and Frank Roberts

Kicking the show off on Monday, Auntie Jay and Celtic Crossroads (David Campbell, Aaron and Teresa Walton) provided a rousing welcome.  The Texas Trailhands presented their usual high energy filled session, with new member "Red  River" Rick providing lead guitar—and humor. Rodeo Kate's Phunky Phiddlers keep getting better and better, with a new cast of kids almost every year. The Fort Worth Stock Show Phil R. Monic Orchestra and Chorus presented their usual solid jam session of Western Swing.  George Uptmore, Bobby Ferguson, Mike Brewer, Hugo Chambers, Henry Carpenter, Brady Bowen and Pat Jacobs (and Buck Helton) kept toes tapping as they ran through an impressive list of old favorites.

With a growing fan base and constantly increasing audiences, Campfire Tales has become one of the must-see features of the Annual Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. This year's show was widely acclaimed as the best ever.  We can't wait to see what that next year brings.

[Ed. note:  The Fort-Worth Star Telegram has web video with highlights of the recent Forth Worth Stock Show events, including the cowboy poets, storytellers, and musicians who entertained at the event's annual Campfire Stories.  View the video here, which includes Charles Williams, Academy of Western Artists Academy of Western Artists' Executive Vice President, event organizer, poet, and storyteller; Joe Wells and Frank Roberts of Cowboy Sunset Serenade, a group that often includes poet Linda Kirkpatrick; and others. Other events covered on the video range from steer wrestling to cowboy church.]

February, 2007
T-34 Cowboy Poetry Gathering   Philip, South Dakota

  Story by Slim McNaught
[photo of Slim McNaught by Jen Dobrowski]



There should be a T-shirt or a cap out there that says "Where The Heck Is T-34." Travel twenty five miles north of Philip, South Dakota and one-half mile west and you'll find out where it's at (formerly The Ridge). What a neat little place, and the food is "plumb outta sight" ('cause we ate it all).

Several of us drove there Sunday, February 18th, to do some poetry and music to help Sonny Stangle get this cowboy poetry gathering off the ground. And "git 'er off" he sure did. Prime Rib and all the trimmin's, a great audience, and a perfect day. It don't get no better than that. Gordon and Trudy Flesner operate the T-34 gas stop-cafe-bar, etc., and they went all out to see that everyone had a good time. The place was packed. They had to send the kids outside to play
because there wasn't room for them in the building. We all tuned up and, about one o'clock, Sonny got the entertainment on the way. Although the place was crowded, we had a nice little area to perform in and Wayne Wipf brought his sound system in and set it up and it really worked out perfect. We all appreciated Wayne because we didn't have to yell so the folks in the back could hear us. 

The performers were Sonny Stangle, Georgene Conley, Wayne Wipf, Ray Hanzlik, Robert "Jinglebob" Dennis, Jenet Reedy, Don Hilmer, and me, Slim McNaught. Sonny, of course, is well known in this area for his cowboy poetry and stories and he gave the crowd a dose that will keep them laughin' for days. Georgene has some great ranch poems that all of us old timers can relate to. Wayne Wipf does some of the most enjoyable Gospel and Family music I have listened to in a long while. Ray Hanzlik, what a treat to perform with Ray again. Ray does great cowboy poetry from right where it happens. Then "Jinglebob" Dennis, what can I say. One of the best emcees in this country and a very talented poet/songwriter that makes you want to hear more. Jenet Reedy came on with some of her great material after a seven year (she said it) "abstinence" from the poetry trail. She's still got the talent. Don Hilmer done several of his good poems. We are getting that Don addicted to this cowboy poetry stuff. First thing you know, he'll be running all over the country like the rest of us, lookin' for a mike to get behind so he can show off his good material. Then there was me with my usual. I told the crowd that I'd been lookin' for an audience to practice on because I'll be doing the Heritage of the American West Show in Spearfish, South Dakota, on Wednesday, February 21st, and there they were. So I practiced on them. What a great audience, you won't find better anyplace.

After the scheduled performances were over and the crowd thinned out, we got together for a jam session that lasted until after sundown. What a blast. Some material that some of us haven't used for a long time came up that had folks in stitches. This shindig was such a hit that Sonny is already talking about doing it again. These little get-togethers are almost more fun than the law will allow, and we are all looking forward to the next time. So if you are looking for real "down home" entertainment, watch for the next time around. I guarantee you won't be disappointed. Just ask anyone who was there.

February, 2007
14th Annual Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta    Lordsburg, New Mexico


  Report and photos by Steve Conroy


Lordsburg is situated very close to the Arizona-New Mexico line and for fourteen years, Allen "Hook" Hill and his wife, June, have been holding a marvelous Gathering with the prime objective to raise funds to support their local Museum.  I toured the Museum before the festivities began and discovered Lordsburg was heavily involved with the Mining industry, they hosted a Prisoner of War Prison for Germans, Italians and "American Japanese."  Tom Mix made his last ride through their town.  There was a host of other historical events associated with Lordsburg, and the museum had numerous displays that were well done and very educational.

"Hook" Hill

On February 10th, they opened the doors of the Museum to some 200 people who enjoyed three and a half hours of some of the best cowboy poetry and music in the southwest.  At intermission, they treat everyone to barbecued hamburgers, with all the fixin's.  Call in "dinner and a show" all for the same price (donation).

Stephen Hill, "Hook" Hill's son, served as MC and kept things moving smoothly while lightening up the evening with a humorous tale about each of the entertainers.

Jim Culberson and his wife, Diana, opened the evening with several renditions of classic cowboy music.  They own and operate the Culberson ranch northwest of Lordsburg.  Judith Smotts, a writer and traditional poet, entertained the audiences with several of her own works.  Ralph Smith, who is also Chairman of the
Gila Valley roundup, sang several cowboy ballads. Bill Cavaliere is a seasoned cowboy poet and performer.  He recently performed at the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering.  He has participated in the Bootheel Gathering for many years and is a true entertainer—his poetic humor touched everyone.  Wilbur Lunt and "Hook" Hill teamed up and presented a comedic skit that had the audiences in stitches—literally.  It was an exchange between a sick cowboy and a country doctor. They traded lines and sometimes exchanged lines, depending on which page they were on.  They were good!

Following intermission, Kip Calahan got everyone's feet stomping and their blood circulating with her enthusiastic renditions of several of her own songs.  She was selected "Female Vocalist of the Year" for 2003 by the Academy of Western Artists and she is truly a marvelous entertainer.  Kip lives on the Diamond A Ranch with her husband, Richard Moore.  She surprised everyone and did a duo with her daughter, Kyli Moore, a budding new starlet! 

Kip Calahan

Two-Jump Morris, from Hanover, NM, followed Kip and filled the Museum with laughter.  He is a story-teller and poet and he can put a twist on a tale that polishes up the word "funny" to be unbridles hilarity.


Two-Jump Morris

Steve Conroy, who is from Sierra Vista, and new to the Bootheel Gathering, sang several classic songs composed by Bob Nolan and recited an S. Omar Barker poem as well as one of his own called "Grandpa's Will." 

Steve Conroy

Ken Moore and his group, Roughstring, which includes "Skelly" Boyd on lead guitar, Savanna Barry on Bass and Jess Barry on fiddle, topped off a marvelous evening of great entertainment.  This group is one of the best in the southwest and are superb performers.  Along with Kip Calahan, they made the evening an unforgettable experience for all who attended.


"Hook" and June Hill, once again, put on a marvelous Cowboy Poetry and Music Fiesta for those who came and supported the Lordsburg Museum renovation. For those who missed it, I would highly recommend you put the second week in February of 2008 on your calendar.  This is one of the hidden treasures of Cowboy Gatherings.



We invite you to send in reports about gatherings and other events.



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