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(Some links may go out of date.)

2013 Reports


15th Annual Missouri Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival, Mountain View, Missouri, April page two

9th Annual Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering Ellensburg, Washington, February  page two

27th Annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering (Sul Ross) Alpine, Texas, February page two

5th Annual Songs of the Cowboys Cody, Wyoming, April 

13th Annual Saddle Up! Celebration; Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, February

21st Annual Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering;  Sierra Vista, Arizona, February

20th Annual Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta; Lordsburg, New Mexico, February

24th Annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering; Golden, Colorado, January


See May-July, 2013 reports here

See reports from 2012 here
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 . . .


April,  2013
5th Annual Songs of the Cowboys Cody, Wyoming  

 Reports by Rex Rideout


Gwen Petersen

Songs of the Cowboys
April 19-21 2013

by Rex Rideout:

Liz Masterson and I had been saying we needed take off on another crazy road trip. What better place to go than Cody and be a part of Leslie Keltner's Songs of the Cowboys. This is the 5th event for Runumuk Cowgirl Productions and Leslie has this figured out to a science.

Vic Anderson and Liz Masterson

It began with a Friday evening concert featuring the Bunkhouse Corral, led by Glenn Ohrlin with Otto Rosfeld, Bob Lantis, John Shreve, and Joe Bain. The evening was opened by Larry Thompson reciting Badger Clark's "The Cowboy's Prayer." This was followed by Glenn leading the Corral with hilarious stories and witty songs. Each member of the corral was quick to reply with his own yarns and songs.

There were daytime theme sessions as well as a matinee show. An evening show wrapped it up and then everyone retired to one of three jam sessions. Or some were ambitious enough to attend them all.

Brigid Reedy and Glenn Ohrlin

An unexpected delight was the arrival of Brigid Reedy and her father, John. Brigid plays violin, sings very sweetly and can yodel. She's got it all and at twelve years old at that. She and Glenn Ohrlin have performed together before so he invited her to join him in his sets. Host Jim Garry pointed out that the difference between their ages was 74 years but when they are onstage, they go together like cornbread and chili. Both are true professionals and their blending of music and stage banter is as good as it gets. I hope to be so fortunate as to see them perform together again.

Everyone gathered Sunday morning for the Cowboy Gospel. Apart from the Bunkhouse Corral, Leslie rounded up a broad brush of talent consisting of Ike Hall, Susan Park, Vic Anderson, Norrine Linderman, Open Range, Bruce South, Ray & Shirley Jacobs, Gwen Petersen, Liz Masterson, Stan Howe, and me.

Rex Rideout

The shows were warmly hosted by Jim Garry and represented all aspects of cowboy poetry, song, and Western living. Cody makes for such a fitting setting for this gathering. Leslie and Bob Lantis say they will keep it going. Of that I have no doubt, I plan to keep on dropping in. Liz and I headed back to Colorado with a perpetual grin and a lightness in our step. Somehow these days performing with our friends seems to carry us through the rest of the year until we can all meet again. I hope to see you in Cody next year.

Gwen Petersen

by Gwen Petersen:

There's fun, and then there's fun. Pick your pleasure. I pick Songs of the Cowboys held every April in Cody, Wyo. The concerts and day sessions are held in the Holiday Inn Bandana Room. Jam sessions happen in the historic Irma Hotel of Buffalo Bill days. All this happens due to Runumuk Cowgirl Productions the creation of cowgirl, Leslie Keltner.

For a taste of the old west, for an experience to leave you laughing, for a tug at the heartstrings, for genuine cowboy songs and poetry, this is a must-attend event.

Songs of the Cowboys comes out of the chute on Friday night with a concert featuring the Bunkhouse Corral. That would be five guys in tall boots and hats—wearing their age and cowboy occupation on weathered faces and stove-up frames. Stories unfold, wry-eyed jokes bounce off the walls. Songs are warbled to the accompaniment of acoustic guitar.

Stan Howe

Two Friday night (after the concert) jam sessions fill the Irma with song, laughter, dancing and adult beverage consumption. One jam in the Governor's Room is strictly "cowboy" songs. No rock, no roll, no pseudo country-western. Gotta be cowboy flavor which means you'll hear the old-time nostalgic tunes like "Little Joe the Wrangler" or "Strawberry Roan." The other jam holds forth in the lounge. Fiddle and guitar music and song shivers the timbers with a motherlode of listening pleasure.

Saturday saddles up at nine in the morning with hourly sessions of song and poetry. Saturday afternoon concert takes place at three o'clock—another don't-miss dazzling performance! Ditto the Saturday night concert (wherein yours truly held forth in company with a sterling line-up). More jammin' on Saturday night after the show. By this time you've become reacquainted with old friends and made a corral full of new ones.

Leslie Keltner and Otto Rosfeld

The cup of happiness overfloweth ... way into the morning hours. Even after the bar closes, pickers and poets gather in the Governor's Room and play music, tell yarns and tall tales and spin side-splitting stories till dawn starts waking the world.

The final event of the weekend, regardless of how tired you are, takes place on Sunday morning in the Bandana Room. The Glory Trail Cowboy Gospel is a session wherein thanks to the Almighty is offered through both original and old-favorite songs song and poetry. In some ways, this is the best concert of all.

The traditional finale in Glory Trail Cowboy Gospel features cowgirl, Leslie Keltner and her two daughters, Sage and Kaitlynn, singing
a capellaAlfred Brumley's hymn "I'll Fly Away."

[Find a version of this story here at The Fence Post.]



February, 2013
13th Annual Saddle Up! Celebration  Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

  report by Donnette Engebrecht, photos by Donnette Engebrecht, by John W. Reed and by Christina Swanson (



13th Annual Saddle Up
Feb. 21-24, 2013

There was nothing unlucky about the 13th Saddle Up in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  Record crowds were recorded at all shows including two sold-out dinner shows and one SRO concert, and more than 650 people were fed at the chuck wagon cook off making this the event’s most successful year to date.

photo © 2013, John W. Reed
Sourdough Slim with Elizabeth Jablonsky

photo © 2013, Christina Swanson,
Waddie Mitchell introduces the Shut Up -N- Playboys (T Scott Wilburn, Bobby Black, Rick Bryceson, Eugene Jablonsky, and Andrew Wilson)

Saddle Up featured great music from Brenn Hill,
Dave Stamey, Sourdough Slim, the Quebe Sisters Band and Wylie & the Wild West. It also marked the debut of T. Scot Wilburn and the Shut Up -N- Playboys. Scot is no stranger to cowboy gatherings, and he put together a fine bunch of musicians that rocked the Cowboy Dance on Saturday night.

photo © 2013, John W. Reed
Waddie Mitchell

photo © 2013, Christina Swanson,
Jeff and Chris Swanson with Waddie Mitchell

Two of the best poets in the business were on hand, as Waddie Mitchell and Chris Isaacs returned to Pigeon Forge. The two teamed up with Dave Stamey for a stage show that was one of the highlights of the event.

photo © 2013, John W. Reed
Bobby Black, Joey McKenzie, and others at Stories & Strings

photo © 2013, John W. Reed

Another view of Stories & Strings

Speaking of highlights, this was the second year for Stories & Strings, a unique gathering of Saddle Up performers at the Smoky Mountain Guitar Shop. Produced by T. Scot Wilburn, the first of these concerts in 2012 won two awards from the International Festival and Events Association. This year’s group played to a standing-room-only audience and was the talk of Saddle Up.

photo © 2013, Donnette Engebrecht
Shannon and Kent Rollins Red River Ranch chuck wagon

Shannon and Kent Rollins and their Red River Ranch chuck wagon were seen all over the Smoky Mountain town, cooking samples of cornbread, a full meal for about 300 at the Pigeon Forge Hospitality Association and breakfast for 200 prior to Cowboy Church on Sunday. Oh, and they also fed about 350 people at Saturday’s chuck wagon cook off.

Seven wagons from Georgia, North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana competed in the cook off. Other Saturday activities included a mechanical bull, roping and branding demonstrations, and a visit from Sisters on the Fly.

Saddle Up is an event that has found its place in the world of cowboy entertainment, growing with each passing year. Work already has begun on next year’s gathering. Hope to see you in Pigeon Forge, Feb. 19-23, 2014!


February 2013
21st Annual Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering  Sierra Vista, Arizona 

  report by Steve Conroy with photos by Pauline Fredericks

21st Annual Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering
February 8-10, 2013

If you missed the 21st Annual Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, you missed the best Gathering of the year!  From February 8th through the 10th, 51 entertainers or groups, 65 performers in all, from across the United States and Australia brought their talents to Sierra Vista, AZ to brighten, to tantalize, to mesmerize and to delight.  It is always a challenge to top last year’s event, but they did.  The theme this year was “Cool Water.”  The Program featured an article on the criticality of water in the Arizona territory and also an article on Bob Nolan, who wrote the great classic song “Cool Water.”  The Co-Chairs, Steve Conroy and Mike Barker, headed up a great team of volunteers who made this a superb event both for the community as well as for all the artists.

The Sierra Vista Community is exceptional and once again opened their homes and their hearts to our artists.  They provided the financial and in-kind support to ensure we could bring this wonderful Gathering to our community.  The Gathering is composed of all volunteers who dedicate a year to planning and preparing for this event, to provide the best for our artists and to bring the most professional show to our community.  This gracious giving of time and talent by our volunteers ensures we provide the richest experience for our artists and our audiences.

photo by Pauline Fredericks

photo by Pauline Fredericks
Student winners

Our Youth Poetry Program is a primary piece of this Gathering, providing students in the 3rd through the 12th grade an opportunity to open their imaginations and to create their very own “cowboy poem.”  This year, David Walker and Eileen Ahearn got 28 schools to participate and over 2,000 poems were written.  Over 800 were submitted to the Gathering for judging and the best of those are published in the 18th Annual “Saddlebag of Poems.”  The top nine students are selected to perform on stage with our Featured artists and all of the winners present their poems on Saturday morning.  This year, we also had one scholarship winner deliver her poem, along with two others who wrote memorial poems for Bud Strom, our past Co-Chair, and Larry Dever, the Cochise County Sheriff.  These young poets surprise everyone with their imaginative and creative expressions of their experiences.

The Gathering recognized the passing of Jim Cook and Vance Wampler in the program as a special tribute to those who were part of our Gathering family.  We also dedicated this Gathering to Roy “Bud” Strom who was one of the original Co-Chairs for the Gathering and a rancher and poet in his own right.  Bud was totally dedicated to our school program.

For our artists and host families, we kick off the weekend on Thursday night with a special performance at Big Nose Kate’s in the historic town of Tombstone.  Each artist is invited to perform one piece and that gives everyone a little taste of what is in store for them on Gathering Weekend.

On Friday morning, most of the artists either performed at one of the 28 participating schools or at a local church, a sponsor’s business or the Arizona Folklore Preserve.

photo by Pauline Fredericks
Carol Heuchan

Here, Carol Heuchan from New South Wales Australia was “teaching” the Greenway Elementary students in Bisbee the real meaning of “Waltzing Matilda,” using several students to play the various parts!

Following lunch at the Manda Lé Restaurant, the artists had a little respite before going to a reception to meet and greet the key sponsors.  Should an artist go hungry at this Gathering, it is ONLY by choice.

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 Steve Conroy and Jim Riehle performing “Cool Water” and telling a little of Bob Nolan’s history.  Because of our school program, it was interesting to note that Bob wrote Cool Water at age 16 while attending Tucson High School.  Steve and Jim performed the opening at all three performances.  Also on stage were our program cover couple, Jonathon and Mia Barker.

The Friday night Master of Ceremonies was Mike Barker, one of the Co-Chairs for the Gathering.  The Headline performers were Judy Coder, Jay Snider, three of our student winners, Emma Bursik, Josiah Lindsey, and Brianna Watters, and a special presenter of his Bud Strom Memorial poem, Victor Lennartz; The Red Hot Rhythm Rustlers, Peggy Godfrey, Terry Nash and Vince and Mindi.

photo by Pauline Fredericks
Judy Coder

Judy Coder is an extraordinary vocalist and yodeler.  She can reach in and touch the nostalgia of your heart and the joyfulness of your spirit.  Fantastic!  Jay Snider is a down-to-earth poet and brought tears of laughter to everyone’s eyes.  The Red Hot Rhythm Rustlers, selected as the WMA’s 2012 Group of the Year, have phenomenal harmony with Audrey McLaughlin, Dawn Pett and Gail Rogers, while the lead guitarist, Tom Boyer, adding some fancy licks and Marvin O’Dell brought in the mellowness of his bass guitar and his voice.  They performed their award winning song, written by Marvin O’Dell, “the 18 and 21 Waltz.”  What a great way to wrap up the first half! 

photo by Pauline Fredericks
Peggy Godfrey

Peggy Godfrey is always a delight and her stories and poems carry you into all the travails of the rancher with her own special twist to each tale.  Terry Nash followed up with his poetry and put his own brand on some great tales.  Wrapping up Friday was Vince and Mindi.  They have a great blend of instrument and voices and are a wonderful duo - not to be missed.


photo by Pauline Fredericks
Kristyn Harris


photo by Pauline Fredericks
Ann Sochat


photo by Pauline Fredericks
Sue Harris

1,400 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 Gary Allegretto, "Buffalo Bill” Boycott, Almeda Bradshaw, Broken Chair Band, Marci Broyhill, Buckshot Dot, Ernie Buhler, Call Of The West, Allan Chapman, Sam DeLeeuw, Jack DeWerff, Mike Dunn, Doug Figgs, Rolf Flake, Kerry Grombacher, Kristyn Harris, Sue Harris, Carol Heuchan (all the way from Australia), Allen "Hook" Hill, Jim Jones, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Susie Knight, Carol Markstrom, Slim McWilliams, Al "Doc" Mehl, Miss "V" The Gypsy Cowbelle, Miss Devon and The Outlaw, Mike Moutoux, Dale Page, Steve Porter, Nancy Ruybal, Ann Sochat, Barry Ward and the Yampa Valley Boys.  For many of these artists, this was their first experience with our Gathering and they all seemed to enjoy being in Sierra Vista.

There are 8 rooms and seven sessions per room throughout the day.  The artists rotate around during Saturday and typically have three sessions each.  Most every session was packed to room capacity and the only complaint was “I couldn’t get to see everybody!”

Gary Allegretto also held his harmonica workshop, which was a big success. 

photo by Pauline Fredericks
Gary Allegretto, Jim Jones, Sue Harris, and Teresa Burleson

Phil Vega served as the MC for Saturday night and kept everything moving along.  The Headline Performers included Dave Stamey, Teresa Burleson, four of our student winners, including our Scholarship Winner, Maureen Johnston, Brittany Dyer, Heather Blanchette, and Jeanine Ihli, The Morales Brothers, Jon Messenger, Walt “Bimbo” Cheney and Syd Masters and the Swing Riders.

Dave Stamey has a unique singing style that you could listen to all night.  He introduced his new album, 12-Mile Road, which was the WMA’s 2012 Traditional Album of the Year.  Teresa Burleson was new to our Gathering and she had the audience holding their sides with her tales and antics.  Teresa is a wonderful poet who writes stories from the heart.

photo by Pauline Fredericks
The Morales Brothers

After our student poets delighted the audiences with their imaginative creations, The Morales Brothers, Carlos and Jesus “Willie”, wowed everyone.  Carlos plays classical guitar and Willie plays classical piano.  Together they played some wonderful classics that got a standing ovation…twice.  Following intermission, Jon Messenger sang a number of his compositions.  Jon has a smooth style, and his rich voice and solid guitar delights every audience.

Walter “Bimbo” Cheney is a poet extraordinaire who has quite a repertoire of material.  He reminisces and takes you along with him as he weaves and unfolds his stories.  Fantastic.  Syd Masters and the Swing Riders closed out the Saturday performance with a stunning display of talent.  Syd Masters, Gary Roller and Lonnie Ohta-Mayer melded their talents and voices superbly.  Lonnie, the lead guitarist, really worked that guitar and the three harmonized so well, it was a delight to hear.  They also got a standing ovation ... twice over!  What a night!  Let’s have some more!

photo by Pauline Fredericks
Saddle Strings at Breakfast

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.  Three of the students shared their poems again and the artists responded with their warm applause.  Several artists presented a piece at the breakfast.  Kerry Grombacher, Mike Moutoux, and SaddleStrings each did a piece.  A special treat, Sue Harris and Jack DeWerff did a duo presentation that was truly appreciated by all of the artists.  Mary Kaye also did a special piece.  (So, who did I forget?)

It was delicious breakfast, smothered in wonderful camaraderie, poetry and music.

photo by Pauline Fredericks
Chuck Pyle

The final performance of this year’s Gathering was Sunday afternoon at the Buena Performing Arts Center.  Bill Flower MC’d the show and is the true professional.  Those performing were Mary Kaye, Ken Cook, three of our student winners, Richard Errhalt, Alayna Kamps, and Renee Yockey, and a special presenter of his Larry Dever Memorial poem, Caleb Webb; SaddleStrings, Chuck Pyle, Yvonne Hollenbeck, and closing out the 21st Annual Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, The Morales Brothers.

Mary Kaye was new to our stage and opened the show with a bang.  Her song, "No Wilder Place" written by Les Buffham and her, was the WMA’s Song of the Year this year.  She has a wonderful voice, a powerful delivery and a delightful style that leaves audiences asking for more.  Ken Cook, also new to our Gathering, is a very talented poet and tells it like it is, from the rancher’s perspective, with a little dirt and grit thrown in for good measure.  He touched the heart and he touched the funny bone.  Great presentation.  Closing out the first half and also new to our stage, SaddleStrings wowed the audience with their harmonies and musical balance throughout.  "Snoose" Argyle, Brian Arnold, Cindy Argyle, and Laurie Morgan work very well together and we expect to see them again at the Gathering.  Chuck Pyle was also new to our stage and is top-notch in everyone’s book.  He has a gentle demeanor and a phenomenal voice, another one to sit around the fire with a good cup of coffee to listen to all night.  Chuck has written for many of the greats and has won multiple awards, so we were honored to have him participate this year on stage.

Yvonne Hollenbeck is a delightful poet whose wit and subtle humor sneaks up on you and catches you off guard.  She is a hoot and always fun to have with us.  The Morales Brothers closed out the Sunday show, again to multiple encores.  They are a great team and also superb individual performers.  What a bundle of talent from all of these performers. It was truly a powerful lineup, and it was an unbelievable show!

We are already starting the planning for our 22nd Gathering, so put us on your calendar for February 7-9, 2014.

photo by Pauline Fredericks
Buena Performing Arts Center


February, 2013
20th Annual Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta  Lordsburg, New Mexico

  report by Steve Conroy


20th Annual Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta
February 16, 2013

What a way to do up their 20th Annual Gathering! Allen “Hook” Hill and his wife, June put on the best party one could ask.  This was one Fiesta not to be missed!  Hook and June had a dynamite lineup and everything went as smoothly as you could ask.  This is a fund-raising event to help support the Lordsburg-Hidalgo County Museum, which is where the Gathering is held.  So, it is a win-win for all.

The Museum is a little hidden treasure and one to spend some time visiting.  So, when you come to the Gathering, allow some extra time to tour the Museum prior to the show.  There are artifacts and stories from Lordsburg’s early involvement with the Mining industry.  Lordsburg was the location of one of the World War II Prisoner of War camps and they had Germans, Italians and “American Japanese” during the war.  There are pictures of the families who were the early settlers of the area.  This is a wonderful opportunity for you to get a taste of history as well as enjoy some terrific music and poetry.  Along with the great show, you are also treated to a wonderful barbecued hamburger, with all the fixin’s.  Where else can you go to get some fine entertainments as well as a meal for the price of admission?  Best of all, everything they raise goes to the restoration and support of the Museum.

On February 16th, doors opened at 4:00 pm and by 5:00, as the show was about to start, approximately 190 people waited eagerly for the show to start.  As a hush dropped over the room, Steve Hill, “Hook” Hill’s son, stepped to the stage and began his bantering on the artists and telling some phenomenal jokes.  Steve kept the evening moving along smoothly while adding some terrific interludes as they moved from artist to artist.  Steve is the perfect MC.


Ken Moore opened the show with some beautiful strains of old songs and some of his own.  He started off with “I’d like to be in Texas at the Round-up in the Spring” and then did a couple of his own pieces.  Ken has a smooth and gentle voice that carries you away to the campfire and the closing day.  Ken is an excellent guitarist and is one you could listen to all evening.


Leon Pearce is a “reciter” and does many of the poems written by his niece Barbara Burk Pearce.  My favorite was “I’ Wish I was a Cowboy Once Again.”  Leon did exceptionally well with his delivery and each poem held the audience, while he unfolded his stories.  Everyone enjoyed his presentations and he received a hearty round of applause.

Doug Figgs is a solid professional guitar player and singer.  He also writes a lot of his own material.  He does like to do some of the classics, like Marty Robbins, but he introduced the audience to his own composition of “Dancing with Matilda.”  Doug is an excellent guitarist and has a very solid and haunting voice.  He is a working cowboy and brings his experiences to his music and his presentations. He also shared a song he wrote for New Mexico’s Centennial in 2012.


Larry Harmer poet Extraordinaire, finished off the first half, and did a fantastic job. He told of a friend of his, George Johnson, who had found a poem written in 1910 by another George Johnson, back in the days when “cowboy” was a derogatory term and they were called Rangers.  The poem had been lost for 80 years and found in 1999.  It was called “The Passing of the Ranger” and Larry did a superb job with presenting it to the audience.

After intermission and a wonderful dinner, the second half opened with three poets / story-tellers exchanging quips and poems.  Each would feed off the other.  The three poets were Rusty Tolley, Bill Cavaliere and Hook Hill.  It was a constant game of “get-the-next guy” or “get-the-last guy.”  The three rotated back and forth and kept the audience mesmerized with their banter and easy flow.  Rusty Tolley kicked it off with a poem and then rotated to Bill Cavaliere.  Then they moved to Hook.  Rusty also tells stories and his most enjoyable piece was one about the Animal Loving tourist with the flat tire and the dead grasshoppers.  You have to hear that one for yourself.

Bill Cavaliere writes his own material and presented several selections.  I most enjoyed his “The Big Freeze.” He did several poems and had the audience in stitches throughout the evening.

“Hook” did several of his poems and one of his special “Pedro” pieces called “Snore White.”  Even at 91, Hook has not lost his touch!  He is the grand master for poetry presentations and has a unique style that will enamor anyone who has the privilege to watch him perform.  Hook is one of a kind and does it better than any that I know. 


The wrap-up for the evening was a new group called “The Outriders.”  Bill Cassidy, Jim and Tina Riehle and Steve Conroy entertained the audience with a variety of songs.  They did several of the classics composed by Bob Nolan and then some of the modern pieces by Joyce Woodson and Dave Stamey. Their harmonies were melodic and the mandolin and 12-string guitar added a wonderful flavor to their presentations.

This is a group you should watch for!  Fantastic!

The best thing about all Cowboy Gatherings is they are real, down-to-earth, good, clean entertainment.  There is no lip-syncing, no “perfect” Karaoke music to sing to or any federal funding.  These folks do their best, sometimes make mistakes (hopefully the audience doesn’t notice), and they give the audience one heck of a show!  Congrats to all of the entertainers for a wonderful evening.

This Fiesta was a phenomenal show and now another great Gathering in Lordsburg is “a wrap.”  If you missed this Gathering, you should start planning to attend next year.  Each year gets better and this was a fantastic.  It is one of those Gatherings that is held family style.   “Hook” and June Hill must be congratulated for hosting another magnificent Cowboy Poetry and Music Fiesta.  And to all the folks who came and supported the Lordsburg Museum renovation, we thank you most sincerely and humbly.  For those who missed the Bootheel Fiesta, I would recommend you watch for it next year on February 15, 2014.  Come to the Land of Enchantment for an informative and entertaining visit to the Lordsburg-Hidalgo County Museum and the Bootheel Fiesta.


January, 2013
24th Annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Golden, Colorado

  report by Doris Daley with photos by Bill Patterson where noted
photo of Doris Daley by Walter Workman

Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering
January 17-20, 2013

The iconic arch that spans Washington Street (Main Street) in beautiful Golden, Colorado reads:
"Welcome to Golden, Where the West Lives." Indeed, for 52 weeks a year the West lives big and proud in this gem of a small western city (pop: 18,000). And never more so than for four rootin' tootin' days in January, when the old West, the new West, the artistic West and the real West all came to life as Golden's American Mountaineering Center hosts the 24th annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering (CCPG). Golden's mayor, Marjorie Sloan said it best when she brought greetings from the city at the Saturday night show. Speaking to the audience, the organizers and the entertainers, she said, "Our arch was installed in the 1950s, and it's been waiting for you to get here ever since!"

photo by Bill Patterson

A Thursday night show kicked off the Gathering, Jan. 17-20, 2013. Even before that, Pop Wagner's successful school outreach program saw Pop, Skip Gorman, Doc Mehl and Doris Daley visiting several elementary schools in the Denver suburbs. Cowboy poetry, old time fiddle tunes, stories from the Texas trail drives and Pop's entertaining rope tricks all help keep a new generation of school kids exposed to western lore. It was amusing to note that when Pop introduced Doris ("She comes all the way from a foreign country, one that borders the United States. Can you guess where she's from?"), the first answer in five different schools was "Texas!"

Doc Mehl, Doris Daley, Pop Wagner, and Skip Gorman

Every show at the Mountaineering Center is a feature show, as there are no break-out rooms for daytime sessions. Thursday, Friday and Saturday night shows, plus Saturday and Sunday matinees, plus a Saturday morning show, drew enthusiastic, consistent crowds. The Saturday morning show was hard to beat: all 16 entertainers took their turn at presenting one poem or a song. Cleverly hosted by Doc Mehl, he likened each artist to a treat in a box of chocolates. Every introduction featured a couplet that rhymed macadamia nut, praline, coconut, toffee bits, etc. Doc also hosted the ongoing open-mic program that ran during the chuckwagon dinners. Folks were treated to John Schaffner's S&S Chuckwagon stew, chili and posole while enjoying cowboy music from local talent and guest artists.

photo by Bill Patterson
John Schaffner

Old friends and a few new faces made up the 2013 roster of entertainers. Texas singer-songwriter (and successful novelist) Mike Blakely made his first ever appearance on the CCPG stage and wowed the crowd with his intricate guitar arrangements and original story-telling songs. Colorado favorites included Bill Barwick, Jon Chandler, Patty Clayton, Liz Masterson, Gary McMahan, Chuck Pyle, Barry Ward, and the Yampa Valley Boys. From the New Hampshire hotbed of cowboy culture came old-time fiddle expert Skip Gorman. Rounding out the program were WMA female cowboy poet of the year Sam DeLeeuw (Utah), Pop Wagner (Minnesota) and from Canada, Eli Barsi, John Cunningham and Doris Daley. "We missed our Australian bush poetry friends this year," noted CCPG top organizer Diana Raven, "but the timing just didn't work." Past coordinator and perennial favourite performer Liz Masterson (who has worn many hats over the past 24 years) adds, "We love to hear all voices of the west: old, young, newcomers, old favorites, locals, and international visitors. The Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering really is just that: we gather up friends from all over the West, and the West is a pretty big place!"

photo by Bill Patterson
Mike Blakely

Backstage, stage technician Lindsey Calvert joked that the CCPG could also be called "The Fabulous Ernie Martinez Festival." Renowned throughout Colorado and beyond, Ernie is an amazing string musician and played on about 90 percent of the sets throughout the four-day event, transforming solo performances (already the best of the best) into a memory-making succession of one dazzling performance after another.

photo by Bill Patterson
Ernie Martinez

The City of Golden went out of its way to welcome the Gathering and even invited singer Bill Barwick and poet Doris Daley to its regular Thursday night council meeting to give council members a taste of what was happening over at the performance venue. Plans are already underway to make next year–the 25th Anniversary–an even bigger Gathering with a stronger presence in town. The CCPG Silver Jubilee hosted by the city of Golden: truly an event destined to sparkle.

photo by Bill Patterson

The Sunday matinee crew close the show in a grand finale at the Colorado Cowboy Gathering. Stage manager Jane Leche, Gary McMahan, Jon Chandler, Skip Gorman, Barry Ward, Doris Daley, Stage Technician Lindsay Calvert, Patty Clayton, Chuck Pyle (red shirt) and Ernie Martinez, with Mike Blakely in front

If the Colorado Cowboy Gathering is an event you have attended sporadically over the past several years, or if you attended for the first time this year, please ensure your name is on their current email list. Visit for details.



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



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