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(Some links may be out of date.)

2004 Reports

January - March

see April - July reports here
see August-September reports here
see October-December reports here


Arvada (Colorado) January

Fort Worth (Texas) January

Lewiston (Idaho) February

Lander (Wyoming) February

Sierra Vista (Arizona) February

Alpine (Texas) March

Wharton (Texas) March

Cartersville (Georgia) March

(April - December reports are here)


See links to all gathering reports since 2000 here


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


January 2004
15th Annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering  
Arvada, Colorado

story by Jeri Dobrowski
photos by Yvonne Hollenbeck

Arvada rates an A+

In the aftermath of Arvada, Colorado's 15th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering, folks are either talking about what a grand time they had or making plans to attend next year - because they're not gonna miss out on the fun.

Great weather, sold-out performances, and a Who's Who in Western entertainment made the January 8-11 event Arvada's most successful ever. Held in a Denver suburb, the early January gathering is a destination itself but also welcomes guests coming to town for the National Western Livestock

"Fifteen Years of World Class Rhymes and Rhythms" was the theme of Arvada's milestone gathering. Production coordinator Liz Masterson and her staff filled five theaters every day with singers and poets from three continents, then put on a high-energy show each evening. Attendance was such that both day sessions and evening shows had to turn folks away.

Featured performers on the five evening productions were Buffalo Bill Boycott, Leslie Keltner, Sid Hausman, Brenn Hill, Andy Hedges, Gwen Petersen, Liz Masterson & Sean Blackburn, Chuck Larsen, Jon Chandler, Howard Parker, Randy Rieman, Echo Klaproth, Gary McMahan, Jean Prescott, Dick Warwick, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Duane Dickinson, Elizabeth Ebert, and Pat Richardson.

Yvonne Hollenbeck, Liz Masterson and Jean Prescott

Adding the best in musical entertainment to these performances was New West from California, and Cowboy Celtic from Alberta, Canada. Hosts for these performances were John Schaffner, Maggie Mae Sharp, Peggy Godfrey, Buckshot Dot, and Bill Barwick - all top entertainers in their own right. Also, adding to the excitement were the Bush Poetry Winners from Australia. 

Theme sessions running all day on Friday and Saturday were packed to overflowing, a nod to the quality of the performers. Even Friday's morning sessions, usually drawing a smaller crowd, saw increased attendance.

A special audience member Friday afternoon was Baxter Black. Black, who had a previous engagement in town which prevented him from scheduling an appearance, stopped by to take in the session featuring Pat Richardson. When session performer Yvonne Hollenbeck noticed him in the crowd, she recited her "Baxter's Famous Column." To explain and defend himself, Black offered his "Prolapse of the Black Lagoon," the subject of Hollenbeck's poem. This drew almost as much laughter as his testimony to the audience regarding his young son, Guy, having a cowboy hero. The trouble is, instead of looking up to someone like Roy Rogers or Gene Autry, Guy's hero is Pat Richardson.

Saturday's night show surpassed anything seen in cowboy poetry theaters anywhere. The sold-out crowd had already given standing ovations to the acts in the first section: Jean Prescott (joined in harmony by Liz Masterson), Dick Warwick, and Cowboy Celtic. Then, Yvonne Hollenbeck started her program off with "What Would Martha Do?" and practically ruined the crowd. She followed that with several more of her humorous works.

Opening a trunk on stage - an innocent looking decorative prop - she pulled out a beautiful handmade quilt. Hollenbeck explained that the quilt contained 187 hand-stitched signatures of friends of SJ and Elizabeth Ebert. A labor of love, Hollenbeck had rounded up autographs of folks who had performed with Elizabeth over the past 15 years and made the quilt in honor of SJ's 90th birthday. SJ was celebrating his birthday that very night.

Hollenbeck went on to explain that 60 years ago that night, SJ was overseas fighting for America during World War II. Her own uncle lost his life during the war. Hollenbeck then gave a brief but intense history of her grandma's quilt pattern that she used on the Ebert quilt and gave the most incredible rendition of her poem, "The Christmas Quilt."

Pat Richardson describes what ensued: "I, and everyone else in the room, cried like babies! Even the rough ol' bronc rider Howard Parker was clutching the lady sitting next to him. Both of them were crying. I have never seen 500 people as thoroughly stunned as they were by Yvonne and her poem - it was so powerful! They sat in awed silence for a full minute before erupting in a thunderous ovation with tears streaming down their faces."

Perhaps most stunned were SJ and Elizabeth Ebert. Tipped off by gathering organizers that the surprise was afoot, immediate Ebert family members, children and grandchildren of this honored (and honorable) couple, had made a special effort to attend.


This was on Saturday night, after the show, where a group of entertainers gathered around Elizabeth and SJ (in the front center) and the quilt.  In front, left to right, is Ginger Evans;  then Peggy Godfrey (in red jacket); Mike Fleming of New West; Buckshot Dot; Jean Prescott; Liz Masterson; Elizabeth and S J Ebert; and Denise Withnell & Keri Zwicker of Cowboy Celtic. 

Middle Row, is Anita Brauch of the committee; Duane Dickinson; Maryann Patterson of the committee; Jill Jones; Howard Parker; Yvonne Hollenbeck; the quilt; Pat Richardson and David Wilkie of Cowboy Celtic.  

Back is Barry Ward; Larry Glenn; Dick Warwick; Raul Reynoso of New West; Sean Blackburn; Bill May; Chuck Larsen; Echo Roy Klaproth; Stan Howe  (unfortunately, there were many more on each end...)

Elizabeth and SJ Ebert

New West had the unenviable task of following the quilt presentation, but they stepped up to the challenge and wowed the crowd. They too received a standing ovation. Those guys are sure top notch!

Impromptu jam sessions, held after the organized events had run their course, were every bit as entertaining as the carefully crafted daytime lineup. Helena, Montana's Stan Howe, Ginger Evans (former Hays County Girl) and Pike Parker (Howard's brother and an outstanding musician) from Phoenix, Arizona, Jill Jones from Texas, Al Mehl of Boulder, and Scott Taylor from Oklahoma were just a few who volunteered their talents and carried the celebration on into the night. A three-fiddle and vocal harmony rendition by Stan Howe and Jill Jones of "Faded Love," with an accompaniment by guitars, a cello, bass, fife, and a Celtic harp had the dance floor packed.

Pat Richardson and Howard Parker, planning their strategy...or
re-riding old saddlebroncs.

The entertainers on a Western Humor Session, from left to right, Raul Reynoso of New West; Gwen Peterson; Yvonne Hollenbeck; Andy Nelson; Chuck Larsen; Mike Fleming and Dave Jackson, both
of New West.

January 2004
Fort Worth Stock Show "Campfire Stories"
Fort Worth, Texas

fatcwlogo.jpg (21194 bytes)

story and photos by Charles Williams
additional photos by Wayne Wolfe of Dallas.  


"Best Show Ever" at Seventh Annual Ft. Worth Campfire Tales

"This is the best show I've seen you put on," was the way than one fan, who had sat through an entire afternoon show, characterized the Seventh Annual Campfire Tales at the Ft. Worth Stock Show.  Record attendance, spirited performances and a through good time by all involved supported that claim. 

Monday's show got off to a great start with Dale "Sourdough" Myers, Doc Stovall, Edward Southerland and Lanny Joe Burnett mixing songs, poetry, stories and showmanship in equal measure.  The next performers were Janet McBride and John Ingram, always great crowd pleasers.  Janet has even taught John to yodel, although sometimes it comes out sounding suspiciously like a Tarzan yell. 

Photo: Wayne Wolfe,
Lanny Joe Burnett, Wayne Wolfe, and Stan Mahler

Chuck Beggs and Carl Condray, two poets with different styles and subject matter but equally entertaining, followed them.  The smooth pleasing cowboy songs of Stan Mahler finished the set.  It was good to see Stan back in the Metroplex.  An added bonus for the fans and entertainers was the MC work by John Buttrum, who has that famous Buttrum voice - and a wicked sense of humor.  We hope to see more of John next year.  

Billy Joe Rogers lead off the next set with his usual blend of cowboy, swing and traditional western songs, delivered in his fine style.  All present were then treated to a special surprise, as John Seay joined BJ Giles in a super performance of songs and stories.  What a blend of talent, experience and Western history was on the stage with those two.  The only possible performer who could - or would - follow those two is Lloyd Shelby, and fortunately, Lloyd was there and up to the task.  Seldom have we heard syntax mangled in such entertaining style. 

Photo 2004, Charles Williams
Tim Graham

Tim Graham followed with yet another super job.  This time, there weren't even any dogs around to bother him.  Tim was followed by Woody, Jessie and the Cowgirls - an entertaining show for all ages presented by Miss Jessie (Devon Dawson), Woody (Bob Terry) and the Cowgirls (Johnie Terry, Brook Wallace and Sally Ann Wallace)Ginny Mac, The Trinity Rose, was joined by Buck "The Big Man" Helton, and gradually, the Phil R Monic Orchestra and Chorus began to form behind them.  Anchored by George Uptmon on fiddle and Grady Moss on bass, Devon Dawson and Kristy Ricker filled out one of Phil's most enjoyable jam sessions.  

The day was far from over, as the Wallace Family performed to a surprising large and very appreciative audience.  Lead by Paul on rhythm guitar,  Brook, Sally Ann, Caleb, Bethany and Maddy just keep getting better and better.  Tom Hanshew and Gina DeLaune (better know as Just Gina!) gave a musically pleasing and historically interesting set.  The day was closed out by Dan Roberts, who keeps adding to his reputation of  one of the biggest talents in the current cowboy movement, as well one of the nicest people.

Day two featured many of the same performers, with some very interesting additions.  Rodeo Kate's Phunky Phiddlers, a group of kids from Strickland Middle School in Ft. Worth, returned with a pretty impressive set.  Kate has done quite a job with those kids.  They are vastly improved from year to
year, and are surprising dedicated to playing music (especially when they discovered that if you play on the sidewalk and put down a hat, people will actually throw money into it. Way to go, kids!). 

Monte Teel added satirical splendor along with heartfelt verse.  Some guy named Charles Williams wandered in and they felt sorry enough for him to put him on stage so he could earn enough money for his operation ( which he had and is recovering nicely from, thank you).  Kate, Buck, Devon and Doc played an entertaining set together.  The Tuesday afternoon Phil R. Monic included Bob Ferguson along with George, Grady, Ginny Mac, Buck, Devon, some of Kate's Phunky Phiddlers, Harmonica Al, Kate and Rancho Ron in a rousing jam session.  The Wallace Family and Dan Roberts finished out what was indeed "The Best Show Ever" at Campfire Tales.

See a separate page with many more photos from both photographers here...

Special thanks to photographer Wayne Wolfe for permission to use his photos.  Visit his web site to learn more about him and his work:

February 2004
Sixth Annual Lewis and Clark Cowboy Poetry Entertainment & Western Arts Festival  Lewiston, Idaho 

story by Charlie Camden 

Once again it happened. What we thought could not get any better, actually did. Performers began showing up on Wednesday the 4th of February. From all points of the country performers boarded planes and loaded up vehicles with Guitars, Mandolins, Harmonicas, Fiddles, and a good number of Stand up Bass' s, works of Art; Bronze Sculptures, Oil and Pastel Paintings, Silver Spurs and Buckles, Western Hats, and a list of Art Works as long as your arm.

This year we kicked off the Festival with and extra day on the schedule. Kids day. There was a great turn out for this new addition to the Festival. Twelve workshops were available for them to choose their favorites and participate in. Most of the students attended 2 or more Seminars, and enthusiasm ran high. Children and teachers were met at the door, and a guide escorted them to where the different Seminars were being held.

Thursday started out by the Performers going into the school system to do performances for the students and School Staff. Performers reported back that there was a 45 minute waiting line for signing autographs at one of the schools. While all this was in progress Sessions were in full swing back at the Elks. WMA, AWA, CPI, and Palouse Poets were keeping all the stations clapping, and laughing at the music and antics, and of course big stories.

As evening approached, everyone started getting ready for the Big Jam Session. To participate in this, one had to throw their name in a hat and be drawn along with three others. In this way many acts were thrown together hastily, and they had 15 minutes to practice a song, name their band, and play to the audience. This was the 2nd year for this, and it was a great success.

Friday morning started at 9AM with 50 plus performers in attendance.

This year brought an abundance of talent and actually more performers than we were able to give adequate performance time to. Just one of those things we have to monitor and make allowances for. This year we had over 50 scheduled performers, and approx. 30 more showed up out of the blue. Many of these Performers I did not know. To my way of thinking this is great, because it says we are reaching out, and because our section we call the "Drovers Camp" draws a lot of onlookers, and these performers made it a full house for all three days.

A lineup of talent that cannot be equaled or surpassed, and many were from the local area. Night Shows alone consisted of: Leon Flick, David Rustabake, Brenn Hill, Ellie Corrigan, Jeff Streeby, Sam Mattise, Rusty Feathers, Brooks Warmsbaker, Jason DeShaw, Rod Erikson, Bill Chiles, Howard Norskog, Eli Barsi, Lee Earl, John Westbrook, Larry Gibson, Jim Reader, Jim Aasen, "Stampede" (Steve, Terri, and Dave), David McClure, Steve Blanchard, Jake White, "Coyote Moon" (Lisa Stubblefield and Steve Lewis), Rod Casteel, Dallas McCord, Bodie Dominguez, Don Rice, Dennis Weaver, and so many more it would take another page to name. 

When these performers go home, or to other Festivals, they talk among themselves. They say "Hey, Go To Lewiston, Idaho." Many of the local audience are coming to realize that many of these Performers are National Champions numerous times. Songwriters of the year, Musicians of the year, Entertainers of the Year, and the list goes on. Here in Lewiston at this Festival we are drawing the scrutiny of all the Big Dogs in Texas, Oklahoma, and California. And they have sent representatives to find out just what is happening here, what this festival is doing. We were visited by representatives of "Legends of Country" radio from the Tri Cities for this reason. All this is very encouraging.

So we continue to do things differently than you would encounter elsewhere.

This year a new program was started which involved the selling of tickets on a Western quilt signed by many National Level poets and musicians that was put together with help of many people. This effort brought $901.00 into a Special Fund for a Youth Ambassador to represent this area and to travel to Texas this summer to the
Cal Farley's Boys Ranch Youth Cowboy Poetry Gathering. We wish to give a Special Thank You to all the Earl Family for their tireless effort toward this project. And another Special Thank You to Mr. Duane Shears. Who has worked tirelessly, and spent many hours on the Students essay contest. It is because of such people, and of course our great audience, that the festival is such a special event. We wish to thank Radio Station KRLC 1350 AM for the "LIVE COVERAGE" during the day, and all their support, a Special Thank You is also in order for Mr. & Mrs. Rob Prasil, "Toe Tappin" Tommy Tucker, and all the rest of the Staff. We certainly appreciate it.

We wish to thank Jinny Lowe, the head wrangler at "Happy Trails" for all of her support and write-ups.

As in all ongoing events, we need to make some adjustments as the size of the Festival continues to grow. In the future many great things are possible.

Here in our area we have an abundance of Top Quality Performers. As President of the Northwest Chapter of the Western Music Assn., an a member of the National Board of Directors of the Western Music Assn., I would love to see this part of the Country in the National Spotlight. I'm going to work
towards that goal. Our Chapter covers the states of Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and Montana. We are seeking new Members that are interested in performing in a Western Theme. We are also seeking Sponsors for the Festival. If you are a business owner (none too big or too small) and wish to see your company name in print as a sponsor, we will work with you.

I have always been told to believe and expect the best and it will happen. Its early now, but let's see where the road leads.


February, 2004
Second Annual Lander Wyoming
Cowboy Poetry Gathering
Lander, Wyoming

story and photo by Jean Mathisen Haugen

The Second Annual Lander (Wyoming) Cowboy Poetry Gathering was a roaring success.   Poets and musicians from Idaho, Utah and Wyoming joined up at the Best Western Inn at Lander and had a grand old time.  The Gatherin' was a one-day affair headed up by Gerry Sowers of Lander and Jean Mathisen Haugen also of Lander; Garland Kennington and Pete Davis of Riverton Wyo. Performers included Don Kennington of Ogden, Utah; Terri and Steve Taylor of Utah; the Wyoming Reds; Leslie Keltner of Cody, Wyoming; Lander's own singer and movie star, Kevin McNiven; Mountain Music -- Ray Bowlsby and family and Gerry Sowers of Lander and many others.  A full audience of over 100 people attended the night session headlined by Candy Whitt of
Thermopolis, Leslie Keltner, Don Kennington, Garland Kennington and many others.


Gerry Sowers and Ray Bowlsby

February, 2004
12th Annual Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering
Sierra Vista, Arizona

story and photos by
Yvonne Hollenbeck
additional photos by
Edward Bottomley

As I sit in the Denver Airport I will write a report on the 12th Annual Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering held February 6-8, 2004) in beautiful Sierra Vista, Arizona.  I have plenty of time to reflect and write, inasmuch as my flight to Rapid City, South Dakota, was cancelled and I have an extra seven hours on my hands before my rescheduled flight leaves.

It is evident why this gathering was honored at the 2003 National Cowboy Symposium at Lubbock, Texas, as the "American Cowboy Culture Event of the Year."  From a spectator's view, the lineup of talent was excellent, with over 60 of the nation's top poets, musicians and singers entertaining.  It is also evident that the philosophy of providing this type of superb entertainment each year has been the policy of this Gathering, and has resulted in the sold-out stage performances as well as packed crowds at all venues.

Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering in Sierra Vista
2004, Edward Bottomley

From the entertainer's view, there is no event anywhere that affords better hospitality.  From the Thursday night kick-off at "Big Nose Kate's" in Tombstone, to the final farewell, the performers were treated to receptions, meals, and royal treatment not only by local businesses and a well organized and hard working committee, but a great number of families and individuals that so generously open their homes to host the visiting poets and entertainers.  Of course, the greatest pleasure any entertainer receives is the making new friends and enjoying the talent of their peers.

There were several new entertainers this year who captured the audiences and made this year a great opportunity for all attendees.  Among them were Curly Jim Musgrave, Dave Stamey, Yvonne Hollenbeck and the O'Brien Family Band. Along with the other artists, the house was packed throughout the weekend. One such person was Ann Owens of Apache Junction, a native Californian who gave up nursing to devote her time to music.  There is no better singer or musician anywhere, and she has the ability to bring tears with a beautiful ballad, as well as tears of laughter when she dons a crumpled hat and is transposed into one of the best comedians I have ever witnessed.  Ann was just one of the many new friends I met and enjoyed at this Gathering.

The real Ann Owens...
Photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck

...transposed into the Comedian entertainer, Ann Owens
Photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck

The Sierra Vista Gathering has one of the most successful youth programs in existence where each year over one thousand students enter their original cowboy poetry.  In addition, this program also includes the writing and performances of cowboy music.  The presentations by the winners are evidence of the affect the Gathering has made on this great Western community.

Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering in Sierra Vista
2004, Edward Bottomley

Melissa Stamey, Curly Musgrave, Dave Stamey and Kathy Musgrave at the
Friday evening reception

Photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck

A special "tip-of-the-hat" goes to Bob Fusco and Steve Conroy, the 2004 co-chairmen; and Les Siemens, their Graphics and Design Specialist. Also, one would be remiss in not thanking fellow poet, Bud Strom, and John Shaver, founder of the Gathering, for their vision over eleven years ago, to organize one of the finest events I have ever had the honor of being a part of.

Entertainers Greg Scott, Jane Morton, Mike Dunn & Bud Strom after a

Photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck

See more photos of the Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering in Sierra Vista by Edward Bottomley on a separate page, here.


March, 2004
18th Annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering   
(Sul Ross) Alpine, Texas

story and photo by
Ann Sochat


Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering Wows the Crowds

Alpine, Texas rolled out the red carpet to welcome cowboy entertainers for its 18th annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering on March 5th-7th this year.  The oldest cowboy gathering next to Elko, Alpine is noted for the large crowds that flock to this small West Texas City for the gathering year after year.  Sul Ross State University plays host to the musicians, poets, and storytellers that are spread across nine show venues during the day.

As is customary, all the entertainers and spouses were treated to a gourmet barbeque dinner at the CF Ranch on Thursday evening.  The ranch is owned by Al Micallef who also has the Reata Restaurants found in several large cities in the United States.  Mr. Micallef always hosts the opening dinner to kick off the Alpine show, complete with mariachis to entertain the performers.  This year, the old West Wind was howling fiercely that night, and guests took refuge in the building used as a train depot set for the movie version of Larry McMurtry's Streets of Laredo.  Despite the weather,
it was fun for entertainers to greet old friends and fellow performers.

Friday and Saturday mornings began with chuck wagon breakfasts at Kokernot Park.  Chuck wagon builder and cook Glenn Moreland served up a hearty cowboy breakfast, open to all townspeople, performers, and show attendees.  Afternoon sessions ran all day Friday and Saturday.  Among the
performers were Kip Calahan, Jean Prescott, Jill Jones, Dan Roberts, Ann Sochat, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Ray Owens, Andy Wilkinson, Lorraine Rawls, Randy Rieman, Rod Taylor, Craig Carter, Sam Dawson, J.B. Allen, Don Cadden, Bob Campbell, Linda Kirkpatrick, Paul Patterson, and Mike Querner.  The Arizona contingency was well represented by Audrey Hankins, Suzi Killman, Sally Bates, Chris Isaacs, and Rolf Flake.  The area around Alpine also contributed some "home" talent to the show's lineup.  Joel Nelson, Jim Wilson, Washtub Jerry and Glenn Moreland, Apache Adams, Ray Fitzgerald, Joaquin Jackson, Kay Kelley, Jim Kitchens, Chris Roach, and Karen McGuire all call Alpine "home territory."

Bob Campbell, Jim Wilson, Joel Nelson, Ann Sochat

This year, there were almost 100 entries in the children's poetry contest.  The winners were Tanner Thomasson from Marfa, Wesley Freeland from Alpine, and Caleb and Addie Bencomo from Ft. Davis.  Oscar Auker, a young reciter new to Alpine, but an experienced performer,  served as an inspiration to young and old alike in his presentations of poetry.

The night shows featured Canadian poet Doris Daley, Texan Andy Hedges, and Arizonans Lynne and Ken Mikell on the Friday evening show. Saturday night's performers were Don Hedgpeth, The Burson Family, and Alice Hancock.  Saturday night closed out with Jody Nix and the Texas Cowboys playing for a dance at the Alpine Civic Center.

The Museum of the Big Bend at Sul Ross University featured its annual "Trappings of Texas" Cowboy Gear and Art Exhibition and Sale.  A special photo exhibit this year was "Gardians Camargue, The French Buckaroo Tradition," an exhibit presented by singer Lorraine Rawls of Oregon. Lorraine researched the traditions and history of the cowboys of the Camargue that connect to the buckaroo traditions found in the United States.

Cowboy church on Sunday morning rounded out the weekend, and folks started heading for home.  It was another successful show for the Alpine committee that works hard all year to bring everything together.  Big thanks are due the members of the gathering committiee for all of their hard work:  Betty Tanksley, Nelson Sager,Betse and Bill Brooks, Chuck Jividen, Joel Nelson, Michael Stevens, and Jerry Yarbrough.

March, 2004
Fourth Annual Shanghai Days Cowboy Gathering
Wharton, Texas 

story by Linda Kirkpatrick
photos by John Dettling:

This spectacular Gathering is named in honor of Abel Head "Shanghai" Pierce who was one of the early Texas settlers/ranchers of the area.  Shanghai acquired the nick name because his six foot four inch height, too short britches and spurs caused him to resemble a Shanghai rooster.

Pierce arrived in Texas from Rhode Island with only a few cents in his pocket.  He worked in exchange for cattle and began branding stray cattle with his AHP brand until that became a crime.  One of his cows was found to be branded: "AHP is a SOB."  He considered that cow a novelty and good advertisement.  She remained on the ranch, never being sold!

Pierce died in 1900.  The ranch is still under the management of his descendents and consists of about 32,000 acres.

Linda Kirkpatrick and Bud Northington, 
gathering committee member at 2003 gathering

Photo courtesy John Dettling,

This year's show began on Friday night in the Plaza Theatre.  Wayne Brown and Sterling opened with their great harmonies.  The next show was the talented Tim Bays and Mike Rayburn.

Saturday morning, poets Lloyd Shelby, Dennis Gaines and Linda Kirkpatrick opened at the Plaza.  Lloyd began as MC and poet followed by Linda Kirkpatrick.  Dennis Gaines managed to take his own breath away with "I've Been Everywhere".  These three performed three more times including the "Liar's Contest".  It is a known fact that the contest was rigged from the beginning because Linda should have won!  Lloyd told a Lamb Dying (think on the title of this one a bit) story while Dennis grabbed sympathy votes just because Linda was eating his brownies while he was on stage-oh well next year.

Dennis Gaines
Photo courtesy John Dettling,


Lloyd Shelby
Photo courtesy John Dettling,

The sponsors and creators of this event are to be commended for a job well done.

See the Shanghai Days web site for more about the gathering.

March, 2004
8th Annual Georgia Cowboy Gathering 
Cartersville, Georgia 


Georgia Poetry Gathering Successful in New Location

Enthusiastic crowds helped welcome the Georgia Cowboy Poetry Gathering to its new hometown, Cartersville, Georgia, throughout the weekend of March 13th, 2004.  This was the 8th annual gathering in Georgia and this year's theme was "Honoring Women of the West."  The event has been moved to take advantage of the facilities at the wonderful new Booth Western Art Museum in downtown Cartersville.  The major concerts on Friday and Saturday night were held at the Grand Theatre located near the Museum, while all other events were held at the Museum.

The Gathering began Thursday evening with an opening reception for two art exhibits at the Museum, "The Other Side of the West" and "Recent Works by Steve Penley."  Musical entertainment was provided by Doc Stovall and the Tumbleweed Trio, with gunslinger Jim Dunham also performing his gun tricks for visitors.  Featured artist for the Gathering, Carrie Ballantyne, then gave a lecture to a standing-room-only crowd.  Ms. Ballantyne discussed her artwork, which mainly features ranch folk who live near her home in Sheridan, Wyoming.

Doc Stovall

On Friday entertainers Ginny Mac, Devon Dawson (as Cowgirl Jessie), Jerry Warren, Lloyd Shelby, Jesse Ballantyne (yes, he is Carrie's husband), and Doc Stovall performed at several schools for more than 1,500 school children.  E-mails of appreciation from teachers and parents were received at the Museum before the entertainers could even get back from their shows.  Also on Friday, Carrie Ballantyne held an artists workshop for 20 aspiring Western artists.

The Friday evening concert attracted a great crowd that witnessed an awesome show.  Doc Stovall served as the emcee and opened the show with a hilarious rendition of "Ghost Chickens in the Sky."  The Cajun Cowboy Poet, Ray Barker, put the audience in the right mood with his unique mix of traditional cowboy material and stories of his native Louisiana. Next Jesse Ballantyne performed work from his recent CD, Cowboy Serenade. As a working cowboy Ballantyne delivers such songs as "Waiting for a  Chinook" with ultimate authority.  Then the "Father of Georgia Cowboy Poetry," Joel Hayes, shared some of his favorite poems with the crowd, including a very funny inquiry about where Buffalo Wings come from.

Ginny Mac and Devon Dawson brought the show to a rousing close, combining their talents on several Western Swing standards along with original material.  The entire cast then asked the audience to join them in singing "Happy Trails," as a fitting finale to the evening.  A reception following the show resulted in brisk CD sales and a jam session at the Holiday Inn of Cartersville helped satisfy those who couldn't get enough of these talented entertainers.

Jean Prescott and her fans

Lloyd Shelby, John Joyner, and Charles Williams at the open mike

Saturday began with a poetry and song writer's workshop at the Museum led by Jerry Warren and Doc Stovall.  There was also a children's poetry writing workshop led by Joel Hayes and Charlie Williams.  Later in the day a dozen poets took turns sharing their material during two open mike sessions.  In between a large crowd gathered to witness the fashion show that featured both contemporary and period clothing for men, women and children.  Tours of the Museum's world-class Western art collection were also offered throughout the day.

Saturday night's performers

Saturday night's roster of talent did their best to top the Friday night show.  Doc Stovall once again served as emcee, this time doing the much requested "First Baptist Bar and Grill," written by Tim Wilson.  John Joyner opened the show with poems and stories of his native Montana that give you no hint he has spent most of his life in Georgia.  Jesse Ballantyne was once again asked to perform songs he wrote for his current CD.  Georgia'sOfficial Cowboy Poet Jerry Warren was up next and wowed the audience with his "from the heart" delivery, including his haunting work called "The Painting."

Jerry Warren

Yvonne Hollenbeck then contributed her perspective as a rancher's wife, really helping her Georgia audience solve a mystery with her "Why Jane (Fonda) left Ted (Turner)."  Finally, Jean Prescott took the stage and mesmerized the crowd with her ballads.  Among these was a song written for Western artists by Donnie Blanz called "Paint her Real."  Jean dedicated the song to artist Carrie Ballantyne, who was in the audience and celebrating her birthday that night.  The show concluded with the entire cast joining Jean on stage for an emotional performance of the Blanz song "I Will Go." Another successful CD singing reception and jam session followed.

Yvonne Hollenbeck

Sunday's Cowboy Church included performances by Jean Prescott and Bill McCallie, host of Cowboy Jubilee on radio station WSMC in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The message was given by Seth Hopkins, Director of the Booth Western Art Museum, including material from the cowboy parable book "The Good Word" written by Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns.  The event concluded with an artist's presentation at the Booth Museum by artist Steve Penley.  Musical entertainment was provided by guitarist Billy Puckett.

Booth Museum South Entrance
photo by Lloyd Shelby

Doc Stovall and friends
photo by
Yvonne Hollenbeck


Seth Hopkins, museum curator and his top flight staff made all the visitors and performers feel like they were with family. The Booth Western Museum is as good a Western Art museum as can be found anywhere!

Doc Stovall, Jerry Warren and Seth Hopkins are right in line with preserving our cowboy heritage and should be on your list of places to be next year or whenever you are in the Atlanta area.

Well done, pards!

Read our feature on the Georgia Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

We invite you folks to send in reports about gatherings.



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