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 Calendar. 

(Some links may go out of date.)

2010 Reports



21st annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Arvada, Colorado January

26th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Elko, Nevada, January  separate page

3rd annual Gila River Heritage Round-Up, Thatcher, Arizona, January

Moab's Western Stars, Moab, Utah, February

2nd annual Texas Crossroads Cowboy Gathering, Van Horn, Texas, February

4th Annual Cowboy Poetry Hootenanny, Mesquite, Nevada, February

Page two:

17th Annual Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta, Lordsburg, New Mexico, February

Sixth Annual Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering, Ellensburg, Washington, February

18th Annual Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, Sierra Vista, Arizona, February

See reports from 2009 here
See reports from 2008 here
See reports from 2007 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


Back to Events page . . .
Back on home . . .


January, 2011
Annual Gila River Heritage Round-Up   Thatcher, Arizona

report by Jim Dunham with photos by Charline Herbert

Gila River Heritage Roundup

The Gila River Heritage Roundup was held on the weekend of January 23rd in Thatcher, Arizona, which for those of us whot don’t know nestles up against Safford on the west side. The day sessions were held in the Graham County Museum, which is housed in the old Thatcher high school.  It was interesting to be able to browse the exhibits between performances. The Cowboy Heritage Concert was held Saturday evening in the Lee Little Theatre at Eastern Arizona College.

photo by Charline Herbert
Suzi Killman and Cyndi Bettis

photo by Charline Herbert
Jim Dunham

The musicians featured were my little sister Suzi Killman and her daughter Cyndi Bettis, Johnny Bencomo, and me (Jim Dunham). The Safford Old Time Fiddlers added a local flair to the event. Featured poets were Mike Dunn, Bunny Dryden, Rolf Flake, and Larry Shiflet.

photo by Charline Herbert
Bunny Dryden and one of the student poetry winners

photo by Charline Herbert
Safford Old Time Fiddlers

photo by Charline Herbert
Larry Shiflet

The weekend started with a Friday evening jam at Candy’s Ice Cream Parlor in Safford hosted by the Old Time Fiddlers. It was my first time to see Johnny Bencomo’s unique 18 string guitar in action. A round robin of musicians and poets entertained the crowd.

photo by Charline Herbert
Johnny Bencomo and his 18 string guitar was a  big hit, the sound he gets are impossible to describe.

The day sessions brought in a nice crowd as did the evening concert which was hosted by cowboy poet Mike Dunn. 

photo by Charline Herbert
Mike Dunn and Rolf Flake

We wish to thank the Graham County Historical Society and our host families for making our visit to southeastern Arizona an enjoyable experience.

photo by Charline Herbert
Frank Fox and Ralph Smith


January, 2010
21st Annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Arvada, Colorado

  reports by Doris Daley and Rex Rideout; photos by Bill Patterson, with thanks to Diana Raven

report from Doris Daley:

Sold-out night shows and standing-room-only day sessions were the norm at the 21st annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Jan. 14-17, 2010 at the Arvada Center for the Arts. Billed as "a contemporary expression of cowboy life and culture," the event could also be called one of the most rip-snorting, paint-peeling, spontaneously-combustible, talent-loaded, rib-tickling cowboy shows in the West.


photo by Bill Patterson
Guy & Pipp Gillette

For fans and performers alike, the CCPG organizers make it easy to attend. All sessions are under one roof. Parking is plentiful. The staggered schedule allows everyone enough time to get to the next classroom. Every daytime session features a top notch mix-and-match combination of poets and musicians from four countries: United States, Australia, Canada and Texas. In addition to can't-miss humorous sessions like Dancin' and Romancin', Half Nelson Humour, Critters, and Just for Laughs, patrons this year were treated to songwriter circles, yodeling workshops and civil war songs. Odd Instruments (as opposed to odd cowboys) was a highlight for all who attended: bones, piccolo banjos, percussive jigeurs (dancing puppets that go clickity clack), upside down guitars, and the world's only shingo, played by a who's who of cowboy musicians: Doc Mehl, The Gillette Brothers, Pop Wagner, Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout. For a $20 adult day pass, this is the best cowboy deal on the planet!

photo by Bill Patterson
Zeb Dennis with Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout

Headliners for the night shows and Sunday matinee were Baxter Black, Michael Martin Murphey, The Sons of the San Joaquin and Wylie and the Wild West. Host duties and opening performances were ably executed by perennial favorites including Liz Masterson, Richard Elloyan, Pop Wagner, Doris Daley, Prickly Pair, Gary Robertson, Andy Nelson, Eli Barsi, Skip Gorman, Connie Dover, Doc Mehl, Elizabeth Ebert and Joyce Woodson. Carol Heuchan and Milton Taylor, both from New South Wales, dazzled with outstanding performances of Australian bush poetry.

photo by Bill Patterson
Steve Jones (Yampa Valley Boys), Zeb Dennis, Carol Heuchan,
Milton Taylor (both from Australia), John Fisher (Yampa Valley Boys)

For the four days leading up to the festival, the Arvada Center organizes an ambitious school program. Several Denver area elementary and middle schools take part, enjoying classroom writing sessions and performances from teams of poets and musicians. Students create their own poems and songs, and the school in general gets a taste of cowboy culture. This is a great way to get younger folks informed about the cultural and artistic influence that cowboy life has had on western music and poetry.

The best of cowboy music is alive and well at the CCPG, but hats off to the Colorado organizers for ensuring that "poetry" still plays a starring role at the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering. It is an absolute joy to recite for crowds who are chomping at the bit for the spoken word.


photo by Bill Patterson
Jay Snider, Doris Daley, Milton Taylor and Dick Warwick

Another tip of the hat goes to Diana Raven, Doug and Joyce Murphey, and the passel of volunteers at the CD and book table, surely one of the best-run mercantile tables in cowboy poetry land. Diana, along with Colorado songbird Liz Masterson, are the heroic duo who coordinate the entire event.

photo by Bill Patterson
John Nelson, Ross Knox, Andy Nelson, Gary Robertson

This year's fabulous cast of poets and musicians (in addition to those already named): Bill Barwick, Bill Brewster, Ken Cook, Zeb Dennis, Jess Howard, Bob Huff, Jim Jones, Ross Knox, Bonnie Krogman, Mike Moutoux, John Nelson, Jay Snider, Barry Ward, Dick Warwick, Yampa Valley Boys, and Miss V the Gypsy Cowbelle.

photo by Bill Patterson
Bill Barwick and Steve "Mac" McCarthy

report from Rex Rideout:


photo by Bill Patterson
Diana Raven and Liz Masterson, coordinators of the gathering

Liz Masterson and Diana Raven pulled off a fine celebration of cowboy culture. It was a four-day roundup with concerts every day and theme sessions for Friday and Saturday. The concerts featured, in the order they appeared, Baxter Black, Michael Martin Murphey, Sons of the San Joaquin and Wylie & the Wild West. Four or five top entertainers also appeared at each concert. There were well nigh forty poets and singers performing during the day sessions.

Eli Barsi, Bill Barwick, Bill Brewster, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, Zeb Dennis, Connie Dover, Elizabeth Ebert, ichard Elloyan, Mark Gardner, The Gillette Brothers, Skip Gorman, Carol Heuchan, Jess Howard, Bob Huff, Jim Jones, Ross Knox, Bonnie Krogman, Liz Masterson, Al Mehl, Mike Moutoux, Andy Nelson, John Nelson, Prickly Pair and the Cactus Chorale, Gary Robertson, Jay Snider, Milton Taylor, Miss “V” the Gypsy Cowbelle, Pop Wagner, Barry Ward, Dick Warwick, Joyce Woodson, The Yampa Valley Boys and I gave audiences a full spectrum of the life of the cowboy and the open West.

photo by Bill Patterson
Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout

The sessions each focused on a theme such as: Cowboy and Western Humor, Lawmen and Outlaws, Women of the West, Aging Cowboy, Songwriter's Circle and of course, Yodeling. My favorite was Odd Instruments where Mark Gardner and I could present our strange instrument hybrids from the 1880s to the 1920s. Judging from how each of the evening concerts were sold out and the day sessions were packed with folks standing in the back, the event was well attended and continues to grow more popular with each year. Congratulations to Liz, Diana and the Arvada Center.

photo by Bill Patterson
Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout

February, 2010
Moab's Western Stars  Moab, Utah 

  report and photos by Barbara Richhart (Western Belle)

Moab Western Stars Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Moab, Utah was the place to be February 12-14 for Cowboy Music/Poetry. The Western Stars Cowboy Gathering was at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center, the "MARC."

Headlining were Suzy Bogguss and Dave Stamey.

Dave Stamey

Each performance only excelled by the next one. Performers were Katy Creek, Brooke Turner, C.R. Wood, Dean Cook, Brian Arnold, Laurie Tye, Marion Manwill, Gordon Thomas, Richard Lee Cody & Mary Kaye, Al Clark, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Doug Keller, Kenny Hall, Paul Bliss, Jeff Carson, Slim Farnsworth, Jim Dunham, Patty Clayton, Bob Christensen, Skylar Harwood, Coyotee Moon, Drifter (Jan Erickson) & Miss Judy, Twelve Mile, Rollie Stevens, Daron Little, Evelyn Roper, Many Strings, Terry Nash, Myla Livingston, Nona Carver, Marlene Busma, Andy Nelson, Bimbo Cheney, Carl Ellison, Sawmill River Band, Devon Dickson, Sid Hausmanthe school children of Moab Elementary, and Simple Life. MC's for the shows included Cary Hobbs, Willy Akers, Barb Richhart, Andy Nelson, C.R. Wood, Lynnie Espinoza and Jo Lynne Kirkwood. Michael Martin Murphey stopped by and visited a bit with all as he was passing through to another show.

Patty Clayton and Mary Kaye

Paul Bliss

The poetry and songs began Friday. That evening brought out a one-of-a-kind Cowboy Campfire Concert. Saturday, there was a Dutch oven cook-off.  Saturday evening, there was "A Tribute to the Songs our Fathers Sang," with another cowboy campfire concert that evening.  Saturday night was the Sweethearts Dance.

Nancy Ruybal of Katy Creek

Sunday morning, there was an inspirational non-denominational Cowboy Church. After church, there was again music and poetry all through the day.

Wes Ruybal of Katy Creek and Rollie Stevens

Among the vendor booths were quilt appraisers, saddlemakers, western art, amazing leather and silver work, western clothes and of course all the artists had CDs, books and DVDs available for purchase. You could even get your picture all dressed in vintage Western wear.

Patty Clayton, Sid Hausman, and Chance Carter

Thank you to all the sponsors of this great western event! Special thanks to Bayley Rogers and Mike & Jo Lynne Kirkwood for inviting me to this event and mark your calendar now for next year "Western Stars Cowboy Gathering". I came away feeling like I had just spent the weekend with good friends and family! Contact them at: See you all next year in Moab out under these Western Stars!

February, 2010
2nd Annual Texas Crossroads Cowboy Gathering  Van Horn, Texas

reports by Patricia Golden and Harold Roy Miller, photos by Harold Roy Miller


report by Patricia Golden:

2nd Annual Texas Crossroads Cowboy Gathering

Earlier this month the 2nd Annual Texas Crossroads Cowboy Gathering set the town of Van Horn hopping for 4 days. This surprising event put on by Bob Kinford is truly a crossroads to fostering an important part of our western culture. It encourages all cowboy poets, storytellers, songwriters, and musicians to come forth and keep alive our western heritage in an entertaining way.

Entertainers came in from as far away as Western Nevada, Nebraska and Missouri. Cowboy poet Geff Dawson, from Kansas was snowed in and couldn’t make it, but sent a seventy-five dollar donation which was used as a prize for an “on the spur” poetry/song writing contest won by Dean Cook of Arizona. The contest was to write the best song or poem titled “Too Dumb to Live, Too Tough to Die.” 

Things got started early Thursday morning when Phil “Tumbleweed” Crawford blew into town and stopped by the Clark Hotel Museum for a visit. He was a returning entertainer from Kansas. Later that evening he and about 21 people gathered for the mixer at the Cattle Company. After dinner we all headed over to the El Capitan for one of 3 nightly jam sessions. El Paso/UK photographer, Mark Paulda, was busy taking shots of the entertainers for his upcoming book on far west Texas. He said he really enjoyed himself in our town. 

Friday and Saturday had early morning open mic followed by a talent show. Friday evening there was a dinner show opened with “Tumbleweed” and closed with Tony Argento. Catering was by one of Van Horn’s favorite cooks, Shana Roberts. Saturday the 4-H held a concession stand of good eats, and that evening was the judging of the finalist.

A woman visiting from Houston said she and her daughter enjoyed the program so much, and since they were staying at the El Capitan they dropped in on the jam session as well.  

“There’s no business like show business” when the show must go on. No show is without its problems, but this one wasn’t without some great help from the performers and volunteers who knew how to pitch in and be professional. Ralph Gilmore helped Bob stream sight and sounds via internet through the Western Radio Show called Ralph’s Back Porch, which had 1,991 live viewers on the internet throughout the world. Two events actually made invitations to entertainers off of this live stream upload. Bob also had valuable help with the sound equipment from entertainers Evelyn Roper and Deann Little. Bob’s wife, Catie?…well, she was everywhere.

Winners were Eddy Harrison (New Mexico), Evelyn Roper (Colorado), Rusty Battenfield (Texas), Tony Argento (Nevada), Darrell Staedtler (Texas), Harold Roy Miller (Nevada). They were offered twenty-two different gigs between six different events in Texas, Arkansas and Missouri. These events are Green Forest Cowboy Poet Gathering (Green Forest, Arkansas), Cross Ties Cowboy Cowboy Poet Gathering (Odessa, Missouri), Longhorn Ranch Cowboy Poet Gathering (Plato, Missouri), Springfield Cowboy Gathering (Springfield, Missouri) Campfire Tales (Dallas, Texas) and the Cat Spring Gathering (Cat Spring, Texas).

Bob Kinford

The final roundup was Sunday morning after Cowboy Church where Reverend Steven Spalding led us in a prayer of thanks and safe journey home for our many guests.

I would like to note the support from the City of Van Horn, and sponsors; KOA, Days Inn, Motel 6, El Capitan, and the Sands, who provided rooms for many of our travelers. Also the 4-H and the Van Horn Christian Shelter will be receiving $140. each from the proceeds earned.   

Bob is already getting ready for next year. If you missed this one…well, we look forward to seeing you next year.  For further information visit  

I would like to conclude with a quote from newcomer Rusty Battenfield, “It’s all for fun.” And it was just that.


report by Harold Roy Miller:

Performers included Phil "Tumbleweed" Crawford, from Kansas; Eddy Harrison, Pete Kennedy and Richard Martin from New Mexico; Bill Shaw and Dean Cook from Arizona; Dave P Fisher, Tony Argento Jr. and Harold Roy Miller from Nevada; Jerry Schleicher and Steven Spaulding from Missouri; Daryl Steadler, Rusty Battenfield, Dennis Gaines and Bob Kinford from Texas; and Evelyn Roper from Colorado.

The event started off with a dinner Thursday night at Cattleman's Steak House restaurant in Van Horn and then there was a Jam session in the historic El Capitan Hotel.

On Friday there was an open mic session and then the the show began. We had 8 poets and singers the first day and then a poetry contest for the subject "Too dumb to live too tough to die." The first prize was a $75 check donated by Geff Dawson, a cowboy singer and poet from Kansas who had to cancel. We then had a dinner show where the first five people that signed up got to perform. Dave P. Fisher, Tony Argento Jr., Phil Crawford, Eddy Harrison, and Bill Shaw put on an excellent show, as they are all talented performers. We then went back to the El Capitan for another jam session.

Dennis Gaines

On Saturday the rest of the performers took their place on stage and performed. Then the winners of the contest were announced: Dean Cook first place Dave P. Fisher took second. Then the finals were announced for the Saturday night show and the ten picked were Daryl Steadler, Jerry Schleicher, Evelyn Roper, Dennis Gaines, Rusty Battenfield, Harold Roy Miller, Eddy Harrison, Pete Kennedy, Steven Spaulding, and Dean Cook. Evelyn Roper sang some beautiful songs and Dennis Gaines was hilarious as the closing act. The show went well and was being recorded live by Ralphs Back Porch Radio. After the show calls started in for promoters offering gigs to the performers, The show was a huge success, and it accomplished what it set out to do, which was get performers some exposure. All proceeds went to charity.

Find videos of the event at the Crossroads YouTube channel at


February, 2010
4th Annual Cowboy Poetry Hootenanny  Mesquite, Nevada

  report and photos by Barb King

A Foot-Stomping Good Time at Mesquite's 4th Annual Cowboy Poetry Hootenanny

Audience members were greeted with the sounds of old western songs at the Hootenanny held on Saturday, February 20th at 2 PM and 7 PM at the Mesquite Community Theatre.  The band, "Southern Choice," affably lead by Scott Grove, sang and played many country tunes throughout the shows, such as the patriotic Nevada State Song "Home Means Nevada To Me," "Cool Water," "Sue City Sue," "Back in the Saddle Again," and "Green, Green Grass of Home."

Members of the band who were guitarists and a bassist were Eldon Hunt, Jim Boatright and Scott Grove, along with drummer Cody Hunt. They were joined by Jean Hardman on the fiddle. Jean spends 5 months a year in Mesquite, and currently calls Bend, Oregon home for the rest of the year. She has won fiddle contests in Idaho, New Mexico and Utah.   

Charlie Edwards

Smoke Wade

This event was lead by Director and public speaker Charlie Edwards and emceed by well-known local cowboy poet Smoke Wade, both of whom struck up a sense of humor right away with the audience. Thanks was given to the Virgin Valley Artists Association for sponsoring the workshops since 2006, and its President, Bunny Wiseman was introduced. Appreciation for the funding of the workshops by the Mesquite Resort Association, the Greater Mesquite Arts Foundation and the City of Mesquite was given, as well as the introduction of Mesquite Mayor, Susan Holecheck. Smoke continued interjecting witty sayings and poems throughout the shows, while introducing the ten poets with their very diversified backgrounds.  

Lee Kimberlin and Bill Taylor

Lee Kimberlin, a cowboy from Montrose, Colorado led off with a patriotic poem called "The Flag," and later told poems that he said were so true of western life. Shyla Marshall, Miss Clark County Fair and Rodeo Queen 2009, recited very aptly three funny works by famous poets.  She and her father, Ken Marshall, a retired police officer, are from Logandale, Nevada. Ken added his own brand of humor as he recited three more poems that brought laughs from the audience.

Shyla Marshall, Miss Clark County Fair and Rodeo Queen 2009, and her faher, Ken Marshall,

Our own favorite Bill Taylor, 85 years old and a World War II combat veteran who is experienced in western life and saddle work, told tall tales as only he can tell, and received a standing ovation. Sharon Young, from Wyoming and Mesquite, shared her own original poems about boots and cowboy wisdom. She has three degrees in journalism, political science and law.

Joe Klasen & Sharon Young

Barb King

Local Barb King, a former teacher, who is not a real cowgirl, recited her own "The Wannabe Cowgirl" about her adventure upon her first horse. Then she read a poem about a real cowgirl. Joe Klausen, retired from the Navy and experienced on a cattle ranch read a poem called "Two-Gun Man." Steve Dickson, an active US Merchant Mariner, recited two poems called "The First Rodeo" and a hilarious one called "The Bachelor." 

Steve Dickson

Arlene Waite, who retired from the Computer Division of Wells Fargo, got laughs with her recitation of her original poem "Saturday Night Cowboy."  Lee Robertson, from Washington, Utah and retired from Mountain Bell Telephone Company, recited an abridged version of Robert W. Service's "The Cremation of Sam McGee" to the delight of the crowd.

Lee Robertson and Arlene Waite

In spite of rainy weather, the Hootenanny had nice-sized enthusiastic crowds.  Everyone is welcome to join in next year's fun.  All with the desire to learn to write and recite this western genre are encouraged to attend the Cowboy Poetry workshops. 


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



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