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(Some links may go out of date.)

2012 Reports



20th Annual Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, Sierra Vista, Arizona, January

23rd Annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Golden, Colorado, January

When the Work's All Done This Fall, between Belle Fourche and Spearfish, South Dakota, January

Cowboy Up at Winter Camp, Miles City, Montana, January


February-May 2012 reports

June-October 2012 reports

See reports from 2011 here
See reports from 2010 here
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 . . .


  report and photos by Steve Conroy and Photos by Steve Conroy and Karyn Kuniyki


20th Annual Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering
February 3-5, 2012

From February 3rd to the 5th of this year, the Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering, held annually in Sierra Vista, Arizona, celebrated its 20th Anniversary, along with Arizona’s Centennial. It was a phenomenal event and provided the community with some of the best talent in the United States. The theme this year was “Celebrating Statehood” and “20 Years of GREAT Cowboy Poetry and Music.” As in the past, the Gathering turned to the history of the state and had articles in the program about Arizona’s struggle to become a state. The Co-Chairs, Steve Conroy and Mike Barker, wanted to ensure all of the cultures that helped settle the Arizona Territory were represented this year and brought in artists to represent the Indian nations and the Spanish/Mexican nations. Those artists certainly added to the wonderment and excitement of our 20th.

The Sierra Vista Community is to be thanked and commended for their support to the Gathering. They open their homes to the artists and they provide the financial and in-kind support essential to allowing this Gathering to even occur. The Gathering is totally dependent upon volunteers and they all give so graciously to make this one of the best experiences for both the audience as well as the artists.

20th Annual Program Cover

Once again, the Youth Poetry Program is an essential element to this Gathering, providing young budding poets both a rich and powerful experience though writing and sharing their own, unique “cowboy poem.” Early in the school year, the local artists go into the schools and teach the students about ranch life, cattle and horses. They also teach the rudiments of writing “cowboy” poetry. And from those lessons, which are part of the Arizona core curriculum, students from the 3rd to the 12th grade, engage their imaginations and produce some 2,000 poems. The best are selected from each school and then the best of those are published in the “Saddlebag of Poems.” Nine students are selected to perform on stage with our Featured artists and all of the winners present their poems on Saturday morning. These students always amaze everyone with their freshness and their creativity. It is a true joy. Artists go into the schools to teach and entertain the students on the Friday morning of the Gathering. Here Larry Maurice and Mary Kaye are bringing a story-song to life.

Marry Kaye and Larry Maurice at Joyce Clark Middle School

Thursday night, prior to the start of the Gathering on Friday, the artists and their host families gathered at Big Nose Kate’s in the historic town of Tombstone to kick off the weekend with a little entertainment. Each artist performs one piece and that whets everyone’s appetite for the rest of the weekend. It was a great start to a fantastic weekend.

On Friday morning, most of the artists either performed at one of the many schools or at a local church, living center, at a sponsor’s business or at the Arizona Folklore Preserve. Following lunch at the Outback Steakhouse, the artists then went to a reception to meet and greet the key sponsors and both old and new friends. If you are an artist and go hungry at this Gathering, then you must be fasting … quietly.

The Co-Chairs attempt to balance each of the three headline performances so whichever one people attend, they get a great show. This year was pretty close. On Friday, everything blended perfectly and the magic began for 500 attendees. The show opened with Tom Collins reciting “Anthem,” the prologue to Buck Ramsey's sixty-four page epic, “And as I Rode Out on the Morning.” Tom would do this for all three performances. The Headline performers were Bill Barwick; Elizabeth Ebert; three of our student winners, Makayla Duncan, Emily Savarese, and Premvanti Patel; The Daughters of the Purple Sage; Larry Maurice; Carole Jarvis; and Buckshot Dot. The Daughters of the Purple Sage had reunited for this 20th Gathering and we were honored to welcome them back to our stage. This was also their 20th Anniversary and a major birthday for Judy Murbach. Bill Barwick opened the show with story and song that captivated the audience; Elizabeth had them rolling in the aisles; The Daughters enchanted the audiences with their beautiful harmonies; Larry added his smooth and perfect touch to his presentation; Carole brought it home to the ranch and warmed their hearts; and Buckshot wrapped it up like a Christmas package, leaving everyone wanting more. You can’t ask for much more than that!

Daughters of the Purple Sage

Chuck Pyle

1,700 people came to the Saturday day time shows, which featured over 50 poets and musicians, who rotated through 8 rooms at the Buena High School in 50 minute sessions. This Gathering is unique in that it has two rooms dedicated to Open Mike for new, budding artists as well as veterans who would like to come to the Gathering. Our Headliner Artists were joined by our Invited Artists and performed in the various sessions. Our Invited Artists included Mary Abbott, John Bergstrom, Ernie Buhler, Dean Cook, Hank Cramer, Sam Deleeuw, Jack DeWerff, Bunny Dryden, Jim Dunham, Mike Dunn, Doug Figgs, Kerry Grombacher, Larry Harmer, Sue Harris, Allen “Hook” Hill, Fred Jones, Jim Jones, Mary Kaye, Peggy Malone, Jon Messenger, Ken and Lyn Mikell, Warren Miller, Mike Moutoux, Terry Nash, Tony Norris, Dale Page, Chuck Pyle, Rena Randall and the Due West Trio, Greg Scott, Lindy Simmons, Jim and Nancy Sober, Gail Starr, and Way Out West. Most every session was packed to room capacity and the only complaint was “I couldn’t get to see everybody!”

The Gathering recognized the passing of Ken Graydon and Locke Hamilton in the program, but shortly before the Gathering began, we lost another of our wonderful family Jim Cook. Jim had participated in the Gathering throughout the years and will be missed for all of his wonderful storytelling.

Arvel Bird

Jean and Gary Prescott

Cowgirl True (Belinda Gail and Diane Tribitt)

The Desert Sons

As a treat, Warren Miller served as the MC for Saturday night. He was instrumental in helping John Shaver organize and get this Gathering off the ground 20 years ago. Warren handled his duties flawlessly and professionally. The Headline Performers included Joyce Woodson
; Dennis Gaines; three of our student winners, Charity May, Juniper Asaro Neiderlitz, and Emma Williams; The Desert Sons; Arvel Bird; Cowgirl True (Diane Tribitt and Belinda Gail); and Gary and Jean Prescott. Arvel Bird represented the Indian cultures and plays violin and flute. This was his first Cowboy Gathering, and he said he is ready to be invited to others. Arvel played with the Tucson Symphony on Friday night and then joined us for the weekend. Joyce Woodson wowed the crowds with her new songs and melodic voice; Dennis had them in stitches with the “Hog Wrestling” tale; The Desert Sons touched everyone with their unique and inimitable harmonies and instrumentals; Arvel captured them with his stories and his gift with the violin and Indian flute; Diane and Belinda brought a beautiful blend of song and poetry together; and Jean and Gary closed out the show with their beautiful harmonies and that touch of love you see in couples. Yes, it was a darn good show! Whew! Let’s have some more!

Sunday morning, the Gathering hosts a breakfast for the artists, their host families and some of the sponsors. It is an opportunity for all to visit a bit, catch up on activities and future events, and to share some entertainment. Two of the students shared their poems again and the artists responded with their phenomenal applause. Several artists presented something at the breakfast. Mike Moutoux presented a special song called “He’s givin’ one Heckuva Show.” Sue Harris, Kerry Grombacher, Nona Kelly Carver, Mary Kaye and Peggy Malone also did pieces for the assembled group. Arvil played “Whiskey in the Morning” on the violin and was joined by Walt Richards from Trails and Rails. Larry Maurice finished the session with his patriotic poem “I am America.” It was delicious breakfast, smothered in wonderful camaraderie, poetry and music.

To close the gathering was the final performance Sunday afternoon at the Performing Arts Center. Those performing were The Morales Brothers (Carlos and Willie); Nona Kelley Carver; two of our student winners, Brittany Dyer and Nate Burden; Trails & Rails; Paul Harris; Bud Strom; and closing out the 20th Annual Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, The Daughters of the Purple Sage together with The Desert Sons. Carlos and Willie Morales represented the Spanish/Mexican cultures and they had standing ovations wherever they played throughout the weekend. Carlos is a classical guitarist and Willie is a classical pianist. Together, they presented their audiences with a true gift of talent. Once you see them, you will be as amazed as everyone was at this Gathering. Carlos and Willie Morales opened the show with fingers flying and melodies soaring; Nona followed with her soft and gentle touching poetry. Trails & Rails introduced their new bass player and their rich harmonies captivated the audience; Paul add his touch of humor and tremendous singing and guitar talents; Bud was “spot-on” and thrilled the audiences with his wonderful tales; the Daughters and the Desert Sons collaborated and blended their harmonies on a number of pieces, which left the audiences hungering for more! More!

Now, that is a powerful lineup and it was a fantastic show!

We are already starting the planning for our 21st Gathering, so put us on your calendar for February 8-10, 2013.



January 2012
20th Annual Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering  Sierra Vista, Arizona

January 2012
23rd Annual Colorado Cowboy Gathering  Golden, Colorado

  report by Rex Rideout

photos by Bill Patterson


23rd Annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering
January 20, 21 and 22, 2012

The 2012 Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering was a great success. Liz Masterson, Diana Raven and their friends didn't have the last-minute loss of venue as happened last year. They had time to put the 23rd annual show together
and it paid off. It was held for the first time in Golden, Colorado at the American Mountaineering Center and it won't be the last, count on it coming back to roost in Golden for many years.

photo by Bill Patterson
Baxter Black

Baxter Black led off a great sold-out show Friday night. In fact, all the shows were sold out or near capacity.

photo by Bill Patterson
Gary McMahan

photo by Bill Patterson
Carol Heuchan

photo by Dave Stamey
Dave Stamey

Gary McMahan, Carol Heuchan and Dave Stamey were the headliners for the Saturday night show. Gary was one of the organizers for the first Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering 23 years ago and it was so good to have him be in this one.

photo by Bill Patterson
Rex Rideout, Liz Masterson, Pop Wagner, Al "Doc" Mel, Patty Clayton, and Sid Hausman

All through the three-day event Eli Barsi & John Cunningham, Patty Clayton, Jon Chandler, Mark Gardner, Jeff Graves, Sid Hausman, Mike Hurwitz, Ernie Martinez, Al “Doc” Mehl, Andy Nelson, Pop Wagner, Barry Ward, Dick Warwick and I [Rex Rideout] provided top-notch cowboy songs and poetry. The shows had an international flair with Eli coming from Saskatchewan, Canada and Carol, all the way from New South Wales, Australia.

There were matinees offered during each day along with some of the old favorites of the workshops from the earlier gatherings such as the "Bunkhouse Swap Session" and "Odd Instruments."

Suzie and Gary Solomon of Southwind offered a Cowboy Church for Sunday morning. Many of the performers for the shows and more friends of Southwind  sang the songs of the Gospel. Like every other show, the theater was filled.

photo by Bill Patterson
John Schaffner

John Schaffner and S & S Chuckwagon offered up some fine grub each day. Many kept coming back for the brisket but for some of us, the posole was plumb wonderful.

photo by Bill Patterson
Diana Raven and Liz Masterson

The Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering has fallen on tough times in recent years but this year it came back strong. The city of Golden took an interest in what was happening and pledge to be a part of it next year. Look for more venues and more entertainment in the years to come.

Lastly, a great deal of praise can be showered on those who put this event together but it would be nothing without our loyal foundation, those who have come year after year to support the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering. My hat is off to you folks.

photo by Bill Patterson
Grand Finale



January 2012
When the Work's All Done This Fall  between Belle Fourche and Spearfish, South Dakota

  report by Robert Dennis
  photos  by Ken Cook

When the Work's All Done This Fall
January 7, 2012

When the Work's All Done This Fall came off without a hitch as far as the performers were concerned. We had beautiful weather. Temps in the 40’s in January in South Dakota? Who would have believed that would happen?

Ken Cook, Marty Blocker, Robert Dennis, and Paul Larson

There was an afternoon show at 2 pm to a smaller, but appreciative crowd. Then the performers all went out for an early supper and right back to Besler’s Cadillac Ranch for the night show at 7 pm. We had a larger crowd, but still not quite as many as we would have liked. But for a first-time event and all things considered, still a nice turn out. We had to reschedule once and lost some of our crowd because of it, from what I was told by those who planned on attending but couldn't make it because of prior commitments.

Robert Dennis

Ken Cook

By all accounts, they were both great shows, with Marty Blocker, Ken Cook, Robert Dennis and Paul Larson all doing a splendid job of entertaining with a nice mix of poems and songs. The Beslers, Chris and Roseanne, were very impressed with the shows. They had never been a part of anything like this before and there is talk of doing something similar there, in the future.

Marty Blocker

Paul Larson

Beslers Cadillac Ranch has a large old barn, built in 1885, which has been converted for just this sort of thing. There is also a large outdoor arena and an indoor arena, for events. It lies right along side the pretty little Redwater River and is a beautiful place, just between Highway 34 and Highway 85, between Belle Fourche and Spearfish, South Dakota on the northern edge of the Black Hills. What a great setting for cowboy stories and songs! I hope we get to do it again in the near future.

January, 2012
Cowboy Up at Winter Camp  Miles City, Montana

report by Slim McNaught

Cowboy Up at Winter Camp
 January 20-21, 2012

Start with dry roads, then some snow pack, then ten inches of snow, then fifteen below zero, then rain, then very icy roads, then forty above and back to dry roads, all in three days. Welcome to Montana, what a great place to hold the first-ever Cowboy Up at Winter Camp. This gathering, held in Miles City, Montana on January 20 and 21 of 2012, was the dream child of Jane Bower. Along with her husband, Bruce, and Bob Zadow, she put on a phenomenally successful event for a first time venture. With the ambiance of the historic old Olive Hotel, Jane could not have picked a better setting for this gathering. She kept the "cowboy" in “Cowboy Up,” all the way through. Her enthusiasm propelled the event through two days of excitement that carried us to the final meeting Sunday morning.

From the welcome baskets of goodies left in each performer’s room, right up to the grand finale of the Ken Overcast show and the After Show Burner Party and Jam Session at the Olive Hotel Bar Saturday night, Jane had the whole shebang on track. With three daytime venues going at the same time, performers were entertaining in the hotel lobby, the hotel lounge, and the hotel poker room. With about a dozen performers presenting poetry and music, it proved to be a top of the line entertainment venue. The crowds were not large, due to the snow and cold weather, but those in attendance had nothing but great comments about the whole gathering. When word gets out about this event it will pack the facilities at future shows.

Along with managing the day time entertainment at the Olive Hotel, Jane also arranged for entertainment at the Miles City Community College for their Rodeo Club, at the Veterans Administration facility for their patients, and at the Chamber Banquet Dinner held at the Town & Country Club.

Jim Thompson of CBSI Radio in Spearfish, South Dakota did the honors as emcee. Daytime entertainers for the gathering were Bob Petermann, Gwen Petersen, Leslie Keltner, Ken Overcast, Marie Scoville, Owen Badgett, Kip Sorlie, Bob Zadow and his Sage Grass Revival Band, Steven Hughs and Stan Wall, and Slim McNaught.

Opening the Saturday night show were Gwen Petersen, poet and storyteller, and Leslie Keltner, poet and singer. The show was held in the Elks building with Jim Thompson again the emcee. The featured performers were Ken Overcast and his granddaughter, 13-year-old Faith Halingstad. Ken is a very accomplished performer and puts on an excellent show, and the addition of Faith was a real treat. She is an outstanding violin player with a beautiful singing voice. She was Montana State PeeWee Fiddling Champion when she was eight. Ken says, “I’ve never had the opportunity to work with someone of that age that has that amount of God given talent. If you or I could do what she does, the audience might say, 'That was nice,' but to come from someone of that age it’s truly incredible. If that were anyone else’s granddaughter I wouldn’t let her anywhere close to the stage. She steals the show every time!”

Together, they treated the audiences to one of the best shows possible. With Ken’s wife, Dawn, handling the sound board, Ken and Faith led the audience through a series of songs that kept everyone’s complete attention. Then Ken acted out his “Kamikaze Cow” story and had everyone in stitches. What a performer! Ken is a third-generation Montana rancher and his recordings and writings are popular across the country. He has eight CD’s in his Bear Valley Records catalogue and four books of short stories. His book, Sittin’ ‘Round the Stove, Stories From the Real West, was given the Will Rogers Medallion Award in the Fall of 2009. Seating for the show was nearly sold out, and no wonder, with entertainment of that caliber.

At a meeting Sunday, plans were laid for another gathering next year. With the success this first gathering attained, no one will want to miss next year’s performance. With folks like Jane and Bruce Bower, Bob Zadow, and Jim Thompson steering the course, “Cowboy Up at Winter Camp” is sure to become one of the largest cowboy poet/musician gatherings in the area.

Not being aware that I was going to write a report on this gathering, I did not have my camera, and haven’t been able to find anyone who had taken pictures. Good Lord willing that I get invited back next year, I will sure get some pictures of the event. But for now, just picture a group of folks having a great time.

For more information contact Jane Bower at  406-234-2450; 911 Knight Street, Miles City, MT 59301.



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



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