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(Some links may go out of date.)

2014 Reports


25th Annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Golden, Colorado, January

21st Annual Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta, Lordsburg, New Mexico, February

14th Annual Saddle Up! Celebration, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, February

Fourth Annual Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous, Hyrum, Utah, February

28th Annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering (Sul Ross) Alpine, Texas, February separate page


January - February  (below)
March- August

See reports from 2013 here
See reports from 2012
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 from 2002 here
Reports from 2000- 2001 are here


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February, 2014
21st Annual Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta  Lordsburg, New Mexico

report and photos by Steve Conroy


21st Annual Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta


The "magic moment" this year occurred in Lordsburg, New Mexico, at the boot heel of the Land of Enchantment, on February 15, 2014 at 5:00 PM when the 21st Annual Fundraiser for the Hidalgo County Museum kicked off. Better known as the Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta, this Fundraiser is for the Museum and it is an opportunity for the people of Lordsburg and the surrounding communities to come support the Museum while having a great evening of fun and entertainment. For the price of a meal, a cup of coffee and a piece of blueberry cobbler at Kranberry's, you not only get a great hamburger meal and drink cooked and server by the Fire Department, but you also get a full evening of live entertainment.

Hook Hill

This year, June and Allen "Hook" Hill once again gathered some great musicians and story-tellers to dazzle and delight the audience, which numbered around 160.

Steve Hill

Our announcer and MC for this show was Steve Hill, Hook's son. Steve keeps things moving and makes each transition between artists interesting as you try and figure out what story he is going to tell on the artist. Steve has a great sense of humor and is an entertainer in his own mind. (Just a joke, you know.)

Jan Richins started off the evening with some great tales and delivered her stories flawlessly. Jan has lived and worked on ranches in Arizona and New Mexico for most of her adult life, and the stories she tells reflect that experience. She performed S. Omar Barker's poem "Jack Potter's Courtin'" and it was the best presentation of that story I have heard.

Ken Moore

We then moved from story-telling to music and Ken Moore did a number of wonderful songs, to include "Life of a Cowboy." Ken has a very rich and mellow voice and works his guitar around his songs. It's just a treat to sit back and listen to Ken. Ken also has been involved with ranching most of his life. He and his wife, Coleen, have written numerous western songs together, many of which are on his CD "Bringin' The Wild Ones In." Ken is one of those musicians you can listen to all evening and never tire of his music.

Rusty Tolley

Back to storytelling, we had Rusty Tolley perform some of his poems and stories. Rusty practice law in Atlanta, but decided to pursue his dream of being a cowboy. So in 1999, he moved west and did ranch work for a year. Then he decided to become a New Mexico Police Officer. Both of those experiences have given him lots of material to write about. He did a super job and had everyone in the audience in stitches. He almost made it off the stage when someone asked him to tell the story about the Grasshoppers. "Now, that there is funny!"

The Over the Hill and Picking Up Speed Western Dance Band

The Over the Hill and Picking Up Speed Western Dance Band started in and got everyone's toes tapping. I saw a number of people singing along with them as they did a number of the old classic pieces. The Group included Fran Fox, Norman Wright, Buddy and Sharlene Jensen and Joe Sharp. Joe plays the fiddle and really enhanced the music. Their harmonies were excellent and they are a very accomplished group. They have played together since their high school years.

With intermission, people lined up for those delicious hamburgers and dogs with all the trimmings. They also had chips and sodas and water for everyone. The Fire Department always does a great job with barbequing and the burgers were the best tasting burgers in the town. So, where can you go for a show and a meal for less than the cost of a movie for two?

Bill Cavaliere

Following intermission, Bill Cavaliere jumped up to share his tales of woe. Bill is a former Hidalgo County sheriff and has written and recited his own poetry for many years. Bill and his wife, Jill, own a small ranch between Rodeo, NM and Portal, AZ. His experiences provide just the right material to tell some great tales, some of them even close to true.

Carol Markstrom

Back to the music, Carol Markstrom is a new addition to the Fiesta. She is a Professor at West Virginia University and writes non-fiction works about Apache history and culture. Carol has a beautiful and haunting voice and delivers her songs with tenderness and warmth. When she smiles, the audience is hers. Carol has performed at a number of other Gathering throughout Arizona and New Mexico, and I am sure we will be seeing more of this young lady.

Hook Hill

The crowd was now ready for our Featured Performer, Mr. Hook Hill. Hook has delighted audiences in AZ and NM for the past 21 years. He has written his own poetry and also his "Pedro Stories." Hook is a master of intrigue and draws you right in for the punch line. He had the audience in stitches with his tales and antics. Hook doesn't just recite his stories, he acts them out and his antics are as wonderful as the story. When he tells his tale about "Cinderola," hold onto your sides. I am always amazed and awed at Hook's delivery and memory. Anyone who has not seen him perform should plan a trip to Lordsburg.

Neil Abbott

Next, Neil Abbott shared some of his stories about ranching and such. He and his wife Mary have ranched for over 30 years and Mary still does day work for several ranched. Neil is a master storyteller and he writes and recites his own stories and poetry. As they say, all cowboy stories are true. And if they ain't they oughta' be." Neil demonstrates that complexity with each of his tales. Right on!


The close out group was the Outriders. They have been performing together for three years and have really polished their presentations. Bill Cassidy, Tina Riehle and Steve Conroy blend their musical harmonious tapestry while Glen Lazore add the beauty of the lead guitar and Jim Riehle weaves in the sparkle of the mandolin. They did a number of pieces written and composed by Bob Nolan and their rendition of "Call of the Wander" and "Trail Dreamin'" were marvelous. They audience really enjoyed their presentations and even sang along with some of the songs.

To wrap up a marvelous show, Steve Hill had Hook come back up and deliver one of his infamous poems called "Vaseline." If you hadn't laughed enough throughout the evening, this was the capstone for humor. What a great day to close out a phenomenal event.

The Lordsburg Museum is one not to miss. Lordburg was an internment camp during WWII for Germans and Italians. Hidalgo County has done a superb job of capturing items and pictures and stories from that time and has presented it well in their displays. Along with the show and the meal, you can tour the museum and see a bit of REAL history unfold.

Missed the show? Well, put February 14, 2015 on your calendar for the 22nd Annual Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta. You will not be disappointed.



January, 2014
25th Annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering Golden, Colorado

  report by Rex Rideout with photos by Bill Patterson


25th Annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering

The 25th Annual Colorado Cowboy Gathering was worthy of marking a quarter century of great cowboy song and poetry. The hours of January 16 through 19 were packed with the best of the West starting with Baxter Black who kicked off the event. Baxter gives everything he's got and wowed a full house Thursday evening.

© 2014, Bill Patterson
Baxter Black

Riders in the Sky were fired up Saturday evening with Ranger Doug's impossible yodeling, Woody Paul and Joey the Cow-polka King trading hot licks and Too Slim doing everything else. I mean everything.

© 2014, Bill Patterson
Riders in the Sky with Liz Masterson

Dave Stamey treated the crowd to his fine brand of songs of the cowboys Friday evening. There was a remuda of top cowboy acts besides including: Bob Bovee, John Chandler, Doris Daley, Mikki Daniel, Mark Gardner, Carol Heuchan, Jeff Hildebrandt, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Ernie Martinez, Liz Masterson, Al "Doc" Mehl, Terry Nash, New West, Jean Prescott, R.P. Smith, Pop Wagner, Barry Ward as well as myself.

© 2014, Bill Patterson
Doris Daley

© 2014, Bill Patterson
Mikki Daniel

John Schaffner of S&S Chuckwagon tastefully complemented song and verse with some wonderful dutch oven cooking over the fire and even treated everyone to some fine poetry when taking a break from the cooking.

In these days where it seems that any event relating to the arts is knocked on its heels and hardly surviving, it is good
to see that the Colorado Cowboy Gathering is going strong. Be watching for an even greater CCG in 2015.

February, 2014
14th Annual Saddle Up! Celebration, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

  Report by Donnette Engebrecht, with images by photographers as noted


14th Annual Saddle Up
February 19-23, 2014

It was a year of “new” at the 14th Annual Saddle Up in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. In addition to moving into the city’s new $45 million LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge, the award-winning event added some new activities.

Saddle Up Symposiums included a number of topics. Ray Doyle and Joyce Woodson talked about songwriting; Ken Jenkins, whose photography is seen on this year’s Saddle Up poster, shared his images of the American West; T. Scot Wilburn and Andrew Wilson showed off various guitar and fiddle styles, joined by Doc Stein on dulcimer; and Shannon and Kent Rollins shared stories of the history and lifestyles of the American cowboy. All symposiums were well attended and will be continued in coming years.

© 2014, Donnette Engebrecht
Guitar and Fiddle Styles Symposium

Saddle Up Samplers took place throughout the opening days to give visitors a taste of what they would hear during the event, with Andy Nelson, Belinda Gail, Joyce Woodson and Ray Doyle lending their voices.


© 2014, Christina Swanson,
Belinda Gail

Don Edwards and Hot Club of Cowtown performed to sold-out crowds during two intimate evening dinners. Those lucky enough to have tickets dined on steaks prepared by Kent Rollins and his Red River Chuck Wagon team.

@ 2014, Shannon Rollins
Kent Rollins and the Red River Chuck Wagon team

@ 2014, Shannon Rollins
A light moment captured by Shannon Rollins: Andy Nelson sneaks in to take over a shoulder
massage for Kent Rollins, without without Kent's knowledge.

Our third Stories & Strings featured tales and musical performances by Don Edwards, Belinda Gail, Rich O’Brien, Doc Stein, Whit Smith, T. Scot Wilburn and Joyce Woodson. The concert is a favorite among attendees and is produced by Scot Wilburn, who received this year’s Spirit of Saddle Up Award for his contributions to the event.

© 2014, Tom Adkinson
Whit Smith at Stories & Strings

© 2014, Tom Adkinson

T. Scot Wilburn, Spirit of Saddle Up Award

Red Steagall and the Boys in the Bunkhouse performed at all three main stage concerts during Saddle Up.

© 2014, Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism
Red Steagall

Seven wagons from five states competed in the Chuck Wagon Cookoff, with Skillets and Spurs from Vidalia, Georgia, winning the top prize. In all, with the help of the Red River Chuck Wagon crew, more than 600 people were fed at the Saturday lunch.

© 2014, 
Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism
Chuck Wagon Cookoff

The week wrapped with Sunday morning’s Cowboy Church, attended by more than 350 worshippers.

Dates for the next Saddle Up are Feb. 18-22, 2015.

February, 2014
Fourth Annual Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous  Hyrum, Utah

  report and photos by Chris Mortensen


Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous, 2014

The weekend of February 28 through March 2, 2014, Mountain Crest High School in Hyrum, Utah hosted the 4th Annual Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous. The Friday night concert was headlined by Suzy Bogguss.

Suzy Bogguss

Also on the show that night were emcee, Sam DeLeeuw,

Sam DeLeeuw

the very talented Trinity Seely,

Trinity Seely

and up-and-coming young poet, Thatch Elmer.

Thatch Elmer

A very large crowd listened in the main auditorium to these wonderful performers, as they put on a show that will be remembered for a long time. Saturday afternoon, the concert in the main auditorium featured cowboy Ernie Sites and Dave Stamey, two very talented and seasoned entertainers.

Ernie was joined on stage by the Sagebrush Ramblers, Pete Watercott on fiddle, and Pete Charles on upright bass. Again, the audience was captivated by Dave Stamey and Ernie Sites, as they told many stories about the cowboy culture and western way of life through finely crafted songs.

Saturday night featured a family cowboy dance. The Sagwich Basin Boys warmed up the crowd with a variety of dance tunes, and featured 16-year-old Jake Major on upright bass, and 13-year-old phenom Oak Musselman on fiddle. Then Ernie Sites and the two Petes kept the large crowd dancing to their great renditions of many favorite tunes until almost 11:00 pm. Everyone who attended the Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous went home with many great memories, from fun family friendly time spent among very talented poets and musicians.

Sunday morning at 9:00, Cowboy Church was held at the American West Heritage Center in Wellsville, Utah. Over 250 people attended and heard some great nondenominational, religious themed poems and songs by some of the top entertainers present at the Cowboy Rendezvous. Marion Manwill graciously served as chaplain for that event.

The following poets performed on the 3 stages at the Cache Valley gathering: Doug Brewer, Marlene Bussma, Alan Chenworth, Al Clark, Jeff Coats, Sam DeLeeuw, Thatch Elmer, Paul Kern, Marion Manwill, Marty Mickelson, Steve Spencer, Stan Tixier, Ken Wellard, Chad Winn, C.R. Wood, and Casey Woods.

The line up of western musicians included: Colt Angell, David and Jenny Anderson, Brian Arnold, the Buckaroo Balladiers, In Cahoots, Pete Charles, Doug Figgs, Kenny Hall, Shelly Keetch, Dale Major, Jake Major, Many Strings, Laurie Morgan, Chris Mortensen, Mountain Saddle Band, Oak Musselman, Kylee Price, Jared Rogerson, Clive Romney, Troy Ross, Trinity Seely, Ernie Sites, Ken Stevens, Tumbleweeds, Pete Watercott, and the Willow Valley String Band.

The Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous would like to thank all of the performers for supporting this event, and doing such a great job. Also, many thanks for the countless hours put in by the many volunteers. And a huge thanks to Dale and Dawna Major for spearheading and managing the entire event. I don't think anyone, anywhere has worked harder to achieve such a high level of quality and success for these types of events. Looking forward to CVCR 2015.



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



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