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Much-loved poet, cowboy, and Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductee Georgie Sicking turns 95 on May 20, 2016. We encouraged all to send her birthday cards. She always likes to hear from people, and you can write to her at: PO Box 11, Kaycee, Wyoming 82639. 




  We were sorry to learn of the death of former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns of Montana, on April 28, 2016.

In April 2003, Senator Burns and four other sponsors introduced a resolution recognizing our Cowboy Poetry Week celebration. At the time, Senator Burns commented,  " is important to understand that cowboys live and breathe a unique culture which few may be exposed to. I would encourage all my colleagues to take a walk in their boots one day, and read a little cowboy poetry."

An article in The Missoulian says of the Senator, "A former livestock auctioneer, traveling salesman and agriculture news broadcaster, Burns skyrocketed from political obscurity to the U.S. Senate in 1988..." Congressman Denny Rehberg is quoted, “He had a sense of humor that would allow him to enjoy life to the last moment and that’s what people knew Conrad best for.”

Find the entire article here.

Posted 5/3



  It is with great sadness that we report the passing of top cowboy poet Pat Richardson. He is mourned by countless friends and fans.

Pat's life was a testament to the human spirit. He raised himself from a hardscrabble and difficult life, overcame the challenge of polio, and led an early, colorful cowboying and rodeo life. He was an artist and cartoonist. His deadpan humor, which often pushed the boundaries of political correctness, delighted a legion of fans.

Pat was fiercely loyal to his friends and family and was a quietly devout and generous man. His passing, and the recent losses of his friends Glenn Ohrlin and Walt LaRue, mark the end of an era. Their stories will live on.

An obituary tells, "...Pat was well-known as fair in business, a hard worker and quick and creative thinker, and above all as an honest man. Pat's true gift was his artistic ability, mainly cowboy poetry; his ability to interject his own experience, wit and wisdom into his art left him in a class all his own....Services will be held at noon on Thursday, April 14th at the United Methodist Church of Merced..."

Find two favorite photos, some of Pat's poems and artwork and more about him in our feature here.

He will be greatly missed.

[photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck]

Updated 4/12





   Volume 5.6 (February/March) of Ranch & Reata features popular singer and songwriter Brenn Hill, in an expansive article by Rod Miller, "Horseback Hymns: Brenn Hill and the healing power of music."

Miller suggests "...there's a side of Hill that even his most ardent fans might not know..." and goes on to tell about the inspiration for Brenn Hill's Spirit Rider album. Hill is quoted, "I wanted to make a great record that broadly appealed to saints and sinners alike, across all denominational boundaries." Hill also emphasizes his "cowpunch songs," saying, "Most of my songs have some level of blood, guts, and horse sweat in them. It's about the love of a way of life, love of the land, love of livestock, and how westerners survive the modern era..."

Find our feature about Brenn Hill here.

Also included in the issue is Deanna Dickinson McCall's story, "Cindy's Cows," from her recent book, Rough Patches, "a powerful collection of short stories centered on women in the historical and contemporary American West." Find more about her in our feature here.

There is a photography feature by Kurt Markus and there are articles by regular contributors Hal Cannon ("An Elegant Spirit" about Ella Gant McBride) and Tom Russell ("In the Shadows of the Joshua Tree: Gram Parsons and the Lost Angels of Americana"). There are many additional articles and features.

Find more at

Posted 3/30




  Paul Sheldon’s (1947-2012) impressive painting, “Remuda,” has been selected as the poster art for the 2016 Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival (April 20-24, 2016; . From the festival web site:

...Paul Sheldon ... was fortunate enough to move with his family to southern Arizona at a time when the cowboy was still very much a part of the local scene. His family would travel around the Southwest, and given Paul’s fancy for western lore, the real life images he saw simulated his creative spirit to such a level that he began to draw and paint by the time he entered his teen years. Truly in his case, his new surroundings served as the catalyst to bring out the artist in him....

Find more about Paul Sheldon at the festival site.

The organizers tell about the event:

Most people don’t think of Los Angeles when they think ‘Cowboy,’ but L.A. is home to one of the world’s best cowboy gatherings—the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival!

Each year, thousands of people attend the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival to experience the best in authentic Western entertainment, apparel, gear, food and attractions – just 30 minutes north of Los Angeles. This 2016 Cowboy Festival will feature performances by more than 35 show-stopping acts, as well as trick ropers, gun spinners, living history exhibits and delicious cowboy chuckwagon cuisine, including the festival’s infamous dutch oven peach cobbler. Nearly a week of events will lead up to the main two-day Cowboy Festival on Saturday, April 23 and Sunday, April 24 at William S. Hart Park.

The impressive lineup includes Andy Nelson, Hot Club of Cow Town, Don Edwards, The Quebe Sisters, Dave Stamey, Cow Bop, Brenn Hill, Carin Mari, Sourdough Slim, Mikki Daniel, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Syd Masters & the Swing Riders, Adrian Buckaroo Girl, Gary Robertson, and many others.

Find complete information at

Posted 2/22





Poet and writer Rod Miller presents two writing workshops at the sixth annual Write Here in Ephraim conference, April 22 and 23, 2016 in Ephraim, Utah. From his announcement:

April 22 and 23 will find the eyes of the literary world on Utah’s Sanpete Valley for the Write Here in Ephraim writing conference on the campus of Snow College in the town of Ephraim.

This is the sixth annual conference, but it’s my first and I appreciate the invitation. I will be hosting a “Writer’s Camp” group on Friday to read and discuss the writing of selected conference participants. Then, on Saturday, I will present a pair of workshops—“Where Cowboys and Poetry Meet” in the morning and “More than L’Amour: Writing the West in the 21st Century” in the afternoon.

The morning workshop will talk about poetry and poetic techniques in general, with emphasis on the folk and literary art of cowboy poetry in particular. In the afternoon, we’ll talk about misconceptions about the limitations of Western writing and explore the many possibilities for writing and publishing, from fiction to nonfiction, historical to contemporary.

And there are several other workshops by other experienced writers on a variety of topics.
Write Here in Ephraim is shaping up to be an outstanding opportunity for writers of all levels to improve their art and craft. Come on down and join the fun.

Find the announcement and more at Rod Miller's blog, Find more about the event at

Rod Miller has written a number of useful and lively articles about writing and reciting cowboy poetry. Find links to them here at the BAR-D.

Posted 2/21



  With much sadness, we’ve learned of the death of Gary E. Brown on March 16, 2016. Gary was an avid horseman, founder of the Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival, and friend to so many cowboy poets, Western musicians, and artists. Gary built a widely respected gathering. After retiring from involvement for a few years, he worked tirelessly on the 2015 show and on planning the 2016 show. He helped to save the event and bring back the quality for which it is known.

Gary counted musicians and poets among his close friends. Those traveling through Visalia, California, where Gary lived, were often invited to his home. Many performed at his son’s coffee house, Mavericks, known for its intimate concerts with performers such as R.W. Hampton, Don Edwards, Dave Stamey, Ian Tyson, Sons of the San Joaquin, Belinda Gail, and many, many others.

Gary was also known for his generosity, often helping out his cowboy poetry and music friends through hard times.

Gary was also an expert on the subject of early Western cinema and a collector of cinema art and memorabilia. We are pleased to have some of his articles in a feature, "Western Cinema in the Golden Age," here.

Gary had a distinguished career in law enforcement; he served as Monterey Police Chief from 1997-2001 and was also Chief in Chowchilla, South Pasadena, San Clemente and Ashland, Oregon.

There is a fine article in the Fresno Bee by Tim Sheehan, "Former Chowchilla police chief, cowboy culturalist Gary Brown dies."

He is survived by his wife, Sherrill, three sons, and seven grandchildren.

[2009 photo by Jeri Dobrowski]

Updated 3/19








  Poet, mule trainer, and outfitter Sandy Seaton Sallee is featured in the March, 2016 Western Horseman in an interview by Ryan Bell.

She talks about the effect of the wilderness on people who are used to being connected in a busy world, how she broke her neck team roping and defied her prognosis, and her writing and family life. She comments, "I love poems with a moral and an idea that'll either make you laugh, make you cry, or make you think."

Find some of her poetry and more about her in our feature here.

Posted 3/3



North Carolinian Keith Ward's poem, "After the Fire," is featured in the Winter, 2016 issue of The Western Way, the official publication of the Western Music Association.

The poem, which was titled "It Wasn't Just a Barn" here at the BAR-D, was inspired by the fire that destroyed the barn built by Keith Ward's grandfather. Read the poem and his comments here.

The Western Way, a quarterly publication, includes articles, reviews, and more. You can read the entire magazine here at the Western Music Association web site.

Posted 2/20



  The Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering celebrates its 30th anniversary February 26-27, 2016 in Alpine.

Among the featured poets and musicians are are headliners Ray Fitzgerald, Jeff Gore, Chris Isaacs, Ross Knox, Jean Prescott, Gary Prescott, Trinity Seely, Don Cadden, Kristyn Harris, Don Hedgpeth, Randy Huston, Joel Nelson, and R.P. Smith.

Other performers include Mary Abbott, Apache Adams, Amy Hale Auker, Eli Barsi, Sally Bates, Straw Berry, Mike Blakely, Jerry Brooks, Tibb Burnett, Dale Burson, Bob Campbell, Craig Carter, Allan Chapman & Rodeo Kate, Doris Daley, Mikki Daniel, John Davis, Kevin Davis, Doug Figgs, Rolf Flake, Pipp Gillette, R.W. Hampton, Audrey Hankins, Andy Hedges, Jim Jones, Mary Kaye, Suzi Killman & Cyndi Austin, Linda Kirkpatrick, Ross Knox, Deanna McCall, Pat Meade, Chuck Milner, Glenn Moreland, Sam Noble, Nika Nordbrock, Kay Nowell, Mike Querner, Luke Reed, Randy Rieman, Jack Sammon, Heather Watson & Nathan Schmidt, Jay Snider, Red Steagall, Gail Steiger, Rod Taylor, Washtub Jerry, Keith Ward, Andy Wilkinson, and Jim Wilson.

Find more details here at the BAR-D in an announcement from the organizers.

Find more about the gathering at and on Facebook.

Updated 2/20


  The February, 2016 issue of Western Horseman features an article with photographs, "Cowboy Chroniclers," about the 30th annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering by top photojournalist Walter Workman. The article addresses the tradition of cowboy poetry and music and tells about the origins of the gathering. Organizer Don Cadden is quoted and the article emphasizes that the goal of the gathering is "to honor cowboy life and carry on the traditions of telling stories through song and verse. Many of the participants are working cowboys and ranchers, and Don Cadden says, "...we've kept it a gathering, and haven't allowed it to become a commercialized Western music festival."

Those pictured in the generous photo spread include Don Cadden, Amy Steiger and Gail Steiger, Deanna Dickinson McCall and Dave McCall, Randy Huston, Joel Nelson, Andy Hedges, Kristyn Harris, and Rod Taylor.

The Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering takes place February 26-27, 2016 in Alpine. Find more about it at

The magazine is filled with other articles and features, including Shannon and Kent Rollins' regular cowboy cooking column; Baxter Black's regular column; reviews (including Trinity Seely's Cowboy's Wage CD in this issue. The story behind the magazine's cover image, "Below the Cliffs," by Jason Rich, is brought out in an article by Senior Editor Jennifer Denison. (Jason Rich's "End of Day" was selected as the 2014 Cowboy Poetry Week poster image). Find more about the magazine at

Posted 2/8


  The Spring, 2016 issue of RANGE magazine is filled with articles of interest to the cowboy poetry and Western music world: noted photojournalist Jessica Brandi Lifland's profile of Nevada octogenarian rancher and cowboy poet Jack Walther; rancher, poet and storyteller Vess Quinlan's story, "The House of Hoover," a moving piece he has presented at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering; Rancher, writer and poet Gwen Petersen's interesting accounts from her mother's diary; rancher, poet, and writer Linda Hasselstrom's article about ranching with the drought in South Dakota; Writer and poet Rod Miller's profile of rodeo cowboy and poet Bob Schild, 84, for the "Confessions of Red Meat Survivors" column; and Tom Russell's words and paintings in two articles: one on rodeo cowboy Jesse Stahl and another on the song written with Paul Zarzyski, "All This Way for the Short Ride."

There are many additional articles and features. Find more about RANGE at

Posted 2/8



  The Western Folklife Center has released a collection of Badger Clark poems and songs recited and sung by National Cowboy Poetry Gathering participants over the gathering's three-decade history. From their announcement:

The Western Folklife Center is pleased to offer a special CD commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Charles Badger Clark's Sun and Saddle Leather, a humble book of western verse published in 1915 that quickly became a classic, and has since helped define the genre of American cowboy poetry. The songs and recitations on the CD were all recorded at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Badger Clark may be best known (nowadays) for writing "A Cowboy's Prayer," a work that became so popular and widespread that Clark's authorship was largely forgotten—the poem was often credited to "Anonymous." Since the first Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko in 1985, scores of poets and musicians from all over the west have recited Badger Clark's poems and put them to music in creative, heartfelt and beautiful ways.

The CD features 22 tracks (over 74 minutes) of Clark's best loved works. A 24-page booklet with the CD contains an essay about Badger Clark written by folklorist Elaine Thatcher, as well as words to all the poems as published by Badger Clark between 1915-1922. The CD is being released in conjunction with the 2016 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering's celebration of life in the Northern Plains.

Included are the voices of Owen Johnson, Jerry Brooks, Don Edwards & Waddie Mitchell, Cain Eaton, Rod McQueary, Connie Dover & Skip Gorman, Denise Withnell-Cowboy Celtic, Joe Hertz & David Wilkie, Gail Steiger, Joel Nelson, Lorraine Rawls & Crystal Reeves, Tom Pearlman, Gary McMahan & DW Groethe, Randy Rieman, Jill Jones & Lone Star Chorale, Linda M. Hasselstrom, Carl Sharp, and Jim Ross.

Find more at the Western Folklife Center Gift Shop.

See our features about Badger Clark here.

Posted 1/14




  From the Academy of Western Artists:

The Academy of Western Artists would like to congratulate John Dofflemyer, Lemon Creek, California, and Linda Hasselstrom, Hermosa, South Dakota, this year’s Buck Ramsey Cowboy and Cowgirl Poets of the Year. The 20th Annual Academy of Western Artists Will Rogers Western Awards will be held March 12, 2016 in the Brown Lupton Ballroom at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. The event is open to the public and more information is available at

John Dofflemyer’s forebears began raising cattle in the southern Sierra Nevada foothills of Tulare County in 1852, where he and his wife Robbin are engaged in a cow and calf operation on Dry Creek, a tributary of the Kaweah River. To recognize and celebrate rural and contemporary cowboy poetry on the page, John was the founding editor and publisher of the quarterly, Dry Crik Review. Author of sixteen collections of poetry and included in many anthologies, his Poems from Dry Creek published by Starhaven and Proclaiming Space published by Dry Crik Press received Wrangler Awards from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for "Outstanding Poetry Book of 2008 and 2012" respectively. He has participated in the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering since 1989. To educate and share ranch life, John and Robbin have maintained the weblog, Dry Crik Journal—Perspectives from the Ranch with photographs and poetry since 2005.

Linda M. Hasselstrom, a South Dakota rancher, writes and conducts writing retreats in person and by email from her Windbreak House Retreats, ( established in 1996. Her most recent poetry collection, Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet with Twyla M. Hansen won the Nebraska Book Award, Poetry, 2012, and was a finalist for both the High Plains Book award and Women Writing the West’s WILLA. Bitter Creek Junction won the Wrangler for Best Poetry from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. An advisor to Texas Tech University Press and Rural Lit RALLY, Hasselstrom is a regular performer at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, has published 15 books and edited others. Her poetry and nonfiction has appeared in dozens of collections; she can be heard on Bar-D Roundup CDs Vol. 6 and 10 from The Great Plains Native Plant Society ( is establishing a shortgrass prairie botanic garden on her ranch. Hasselstrom’s newest book is The Wheel of the Year: A Writer’s Workbook, (Red Dashboard Press).;

Find features on John Dofflemyer here and on Linda Hasselstrom here at

Posted 12/31




  The just-released Reflections of the West: Cowboy Painters and Poets, by C.J. Hadley of RANGE magazine and the Range Conservation Foundation is a sequel to their Brushstrokes & Balladeers book of cowboy poetry and art that received the coveted Wrangler Award and the Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award. The dazzling new collection is outstanding, a wonderful companion book.

C.J. Hadley introduces the book, "...The creators in this book, either born to the ranching life or with gifts extraordinary enough to be able to share it, all have something in common...You will find that there is nothing fake about real cowboy life. It isn't a way to get rich. And, often thanks to Mother Nature, it isn't easy. But very few who have lived and worked horseback would ever want to change it..."

Relections of the West includes fifty-four fine poets of today and yesterday: James Barton Adams, J.B. Allen, Katie Andraski, Carlos Ashley, Amy Hale Auker, S. Omar Barker, Virginia Bennett, Wendell Berry, Darin Brookman, Laurie Wagner Buyer, Badger Clark, Savanna Scout Cox, John Dofflemyer, Carolyn Dufurrena, Elizabeth Ebert, Curley Fletcher, Robert Fletcher, Patricia Frolander, Robert Frost, Peggy Godfrey, Linda Hasselstrom, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Linda Hussa, Chris Isaacs, Joan Shaddox Isom, Bill Jones, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Bruce Kiskaddon, Henry Herbert Knibbs, Omar Khayyam, Ted Kooser, Henry Lawson, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Wally McRae, Larry McWhorter, Rod Miller, Waddie Mitchell, Joel Nelson, William Henry Ogilvie, Katherine Fall Pettey, Johnny Ritch, Lisa Quinlan, Vess Quinlan, Buck Ramsey, Jim Sagel, Sandy Seaton Sallee, Robert W. Service, Jay Snider, Red Steagall, Luci Tapahonso, Rorodore Theofelt, Ruth Whitman, and Paul Zarzyski.

The book is beautifully designed, with inspired pairings of images with poems from thirty top Western artists: John Bardwell, Buckeye Blake, James Boren, Nancy Boren, Tom Browning, Mary Ross Buchholz, Cheri Christensen, Bonnie Conrad, Wayne Cooper, Tim Cox, Maynard Dixon, Ann Hanson, William Henry Jackson, Will James, W.H.D. Koerner, William Matthews, Vel Miller, Gary Morton, S.C. Mummert, Karen G. Myers, Jan Perkins, Thomas Quinn, Frederic Remington, Jim Rey, Jason Rich, C.M. Russell, Steven Saylor, J.N. Swanson, Don Weller, and Jim Wodark.

The cover painting, "Eight Saddles Being Sat," is by Don Weller.

See our Facebook page for a poem by Joel Nelson that is included in the book.

Find more about Reflections of the West at RANGE magazine.

Posted 11/19


  The Western Folklife Center has announced the performers for the 32nd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, which takes place January 25-30, 2016 in Elko, Nevada.

Those invited performers are (first-time invitees are noted with *): 3hattrio*, Virgin, UT; Gary Allegretto & Ian Espinoza, Los Angeles, CA; Amy Hale Auker, Prescott, AZ; Adrian "Buckaroogirl," Ventura, CA; Jerry Brooks, Sevier, UT; Marleen Bussma*, Dammeron Valley, UT; Maria Campbell*, Saskatoon, SK, Canada; Doris Daley, Black Diamond, AB, Canada; Stephanie Davis, Austin, TX; John Dofflemyer, Lemon Cove, CA; Elizabeth Ebert, Lemmon, SD; Don Edwards, Hico, TX; Thatch Elmer, Bear River, WY; Dom Flemons*, Phoenix, AZ; Ryan Fritz*, Melville, SK, Canada; Patricia Frolander*, Sundance, WY; Pipp Gillette, Crockett, TX; DW Groethe, Bainville, MT; Wylie Gustafson, Conrad, MT; Andy Hedges, Lubbock, TX; Yvonne Hollenbeck, Clearfield, SD; Hot Club of Cowtown, Austin, TX; Mike Hurwitz & the Aimless Drifters*, Alta, WY; Ross Knox, Midpines, CA; Bonnie Krogman*, Wood, SD; Bill Lowman, Sentinel Butte, ND; Slim McNaught*, New Underwood, SD; Wally McRae, Forsyth, MT; Waddie Mitchell, South Fork, NV; Michael Martin Murphey, Pueblo, CO; Terry Nash*, Loma, CO; Joel Nelson, Alpine, TX; Rodney Nelson, Almont, ND; Ed Peekeekoot, Crofton, BC, Canada; Shadd Piehl, Mandan, ND; Sam Platts & The Kootenai Three*, Pony, MT; Vess Quinlan, Florence, CO; Henry Real Bird, Garryowen, MT; Luke Reed*, Santa Fe, NM; Brigid Reedy, Boulder, MT; Randy Rieman, Dillon, MT; Trinity Seely, Ashby, NE; R.P. Smith, Broken Bow, NE; Sourdough Slim & Robert Armstrong, Paradise, CA; Dave Stamey, Orange Cove, CA; Gail Steiger, Prescott, AZ; Ian Tyson, Longview, AB, Canada; T. Scot Wilburn & the Shut Up -N- Playboys*, Spokane, WA; and Paul Zarzyski, Great Falls, MT.

The list is posted here at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering site.

Find much more National Cowboy Poetry Gathering news here at the BAR-D.

Updated 1/14



     New Mexico cowboy, singer-songerwriter, poet, and photographer Mike Moutoux is featured in the December, 2015 Western Horseman (, which also includes his poem, "Christmas at the Line Shack."

Mike Moutoux performs his poem, "Ranch Horses," in a video here at Western Horseman online.

Check out some of Mike's photographs in the current Picture the West and find more about him here at the BAR-D and at

Updated 12/23


  Artist William Matthews is on the cover of the latest Ranch & Reata magazine (Volume 5.4). His painting,  "Waxed Jacket," was the 2008 Cowboy Poetry Week poster. The article focuses on a new limited edition Martin guitar that features Matthews' painting of late horseman Jay Harney.

Also inside: a great vintage photo of poet Paul Zarzyski by packer, poet, and photographer Kent Reeves opens the "Front Gate" of the magazine; a striking spread of Kent Reeve's photographs in "Bucking Straight; a "notes from the road" piece by cowboy troubadour Dave Stamey; a fun article on Rocky Mountain oysters by Kathy McCraine featuring cowboy, poet and writer Amy Hale Auker and cowboy, poet, songwriter, and film maker Gail Steiger; a feature on artist Steve Devenyns and his work (his "Wake Up Call" was last year's Winter/Christmas Art Spur); Tom Russell on "how the guitar won the West; Hal Cannon on the return of Navajo sheep; and many more features and articles.

Find Ranch & Reata at

Posted 12/1



Poet Yvonne Hollenbeck and RANGE magazine editor C.J. Hadley were among the recipients of the 2015 Will Rogers Medallion Award. From the award committee:

At the 12th annual Will Rogers Medallion Award Banquet hosted Saturday evening, October 24, in Ft. Worth, 35 authors were presented Will Rogers Medallion Awards Honoring Excellence in Western Media in 11 categories. “This is the largest and strongest group of winners we have had since the inception of the Award,” noted Charles Williams, executive director. “It is a tribute to the enduring appeal of the West and to the high quality of literature being produced today.”

Originally created to honor outstanding volumes of Cowboy Poetry, the Will Rogers Medallion Award soon expanded into other categories as interest and reader demand increased. Will Rogers was an accomplished author as well as a cowboy entertainer, and the purpose of the Award is to honor this facet of his legacy as well as to highlight current books that embody strong content, excellent production values, and enduring interest. The Twelfth Annual Award Show, hosted in the Ft. Worth Stockyards during Red Steagall’s Twenty-Fifth Cowboy Gathering, attracted authors from as far away as Canada, Wyoming, the Dakotas, and Montana. “As writers, as Westerners, and as Americans, we owe a tremendous debt to Will Rogers, and this is our way of acknowledging and honoring that debt,” said Mr. Williams.

Yvonne Hollenbeck's book and companion CD, Rhyming the Range, collect her original poems about her life on the Hollenbeck ranch in South Dakota. Red Steagall commented, "No one puts the image, heart and soul of these people into verse in a more professional manner or with more emotion than does Yvonne Hollenbeck...No poet in America has a better feel for and understanding of the folks in our agricultural society. She shows us the struggles, the sadness, and the humor of folks who feed us..." Find more in our feature here and at

C.J. Hadley edited The M Bar and other firsthand stories of the Old West from cowboy Harry Webb. It is described, "These true tales include special appearances by Teddy Roosevelt, G.S. Garcia, Art Acord, Buffalo Bill Cody and plenty of ornery critters." Find more at

Find a list of all of the recipients in our Awards News here and at the Will Rogers Medallion Award web site,

Posted 11/2



  The Western Way, the official publication of the Western Music Association (, features Texas singer and songwriter Jean Prescott in its Fall, 2015 issue. She's on the cover, and there is an extensive interview inside. Jean Prescott often collaborates with poets, and has co-written songs with Yvonne Hollenbeck, Doris Daley, Carole Jarvis, Dee Strickland Johnson ("Buckshot Dot") and many others. Find more about her in our feature here and at

Oregon poet Tom Swearingen's poem, "One to Ride the River With," written for Trey Allen, is featured in the "Penned by Lantern Light" section, which spotlights the members of the Western Wordsmiths Chapter of the Western Music Association. Find more of Tom Swearingen's poetry here and more about him at

There are many addition features and articles. You can read the entire magazine here at the organization's site.

The Western Music Association holds its annual convention November 11-15, 2015 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Find information and more at

Posted 10/27



  The Western Music Association ( announced the recipients for its 2015 awards at the organization's annual convention, November 11-15, 2015.

Andy Nelson was named Top Male Poet and Sam DeLeeuw was named Top Female Poet. Dale Page's Once We Were Kings was named the Cowboy Poetry CD of the Year and Waddie Mitchell's 100 Poems received the Cowboy Poetry Book of the Year Award.

Mary Matli received the Georgie Sicking Award. The results of the Western Wordsmiths' popular Cowboy Jackpot were: Valerie Beard Cowboy Poetry Jackpot Novice Division; Almeda Bradshaw Cowboy Poetry Jackpot Professional Division; and Floyd Beard Peoples' Choice (Woody) Award.

Find a list of all award recipients in Western Music and other categories here in our Awards News.

Results can also be found at

[Thanks to Susie Knight and Dale Page for Western Wordsmith results.]

Posted 11/16




  From the Western Folklife Center:

The Western Folklife Center and its 32nd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering today announced the launch of the 3rd annual spoken word poetry competition on YouTube for the next generation of poets ages 18-35. Expressing the Rural West: Poetry of the Next Generation is an effort to discover new artists who are carrying on the tradition of rural and cowboy poetry in the West.

“We know there are many poets in this age group who are writing and performing poetry,” explains David Roche, Executive Director of the Western Folklife Center, which produces the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. “We want to encourage them to participate in the contest and also come to the event and perform at open-mic sessions. They are the future of the tradition.”

Poets are invited to submit videos which include an artist introduction and do not exceed four minutes in length. Submissions may not contain curse words or explicit imagery and must be original compositions. Content should have a rural focus and poems should be performed and not read. Poets must be currently living in one of the following western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Poems will be judged by the public as well as by a committee of two professional poets and two staff members of the Western Folklife Center. The winner of the public vote is the poet whose video gets the most "likes." The winner of the public vote will receive two free 3-Day Deluxe Passes to the 32ndNational Cowboy Poetry Gathering and a free Gathering poster. The winner of the juried competition will be given a performance slot at the event and must be able to travel between January 27-31, 2016. Travel and lodging will be paid by the Western Folklife Center.

Guidelines for the competition can be found on the Western Folklife Center website and on the competition's YouTube channel. Participants should tag their entries: “2016 Next Generation Poetry Competition.” Public "liking" will end on December 11 and our judges will select a winner by December 18. Winners will be notified via email or on their YouTube video page.

Find more here at the Western Folklife Center.

Posted 11/5


The Fall, 2015 issue of RANGE magazine includes a number of features of interest to the cowboy poetry and Western arts world. They include artist and rancher Gary Morton's words and photographs about the Bell Ranch, "Full Circle"; poet, writer, and working ranchwoman Amy Hale Auker's "Unplugging in Arizona"; poet and rancher Vess Quinlan's moving story, "A Boy Among Men"; poet and writer Rod Miller's profile of poet Phil Kennington in the popular "Confessions of Red Meat Survivors" feature and his story about Bill Stansfield and the Quitchumpah Ranch; writer and rancher Carolyn Dufurrena's pieces on the Mackey/Shimamoto Canyon Creek Ranch in Californio and on Rob Davis and the Six D Cattle Company in Washington; poet, rancher, and colorful character Gwen Petersen's "The Veggie Puncher," and much more.

Jim Rey's painting, "Horses' Spring Break," is on the cover, and inside there are additional paintings and words from the Colorado artist.

The Fall issue has many other additional features, including outstanding Outback Roundup photographs and more. Visit the RANGE web site at

Posted 8/24


  The 17th annual Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival (November 20-22, 2015) has selected "Mission Cattle" by the late JN (Jack) Swanson for its 2015 poster. They tell about the artist:

One of the early members of the Cowboy Artists of America, Swanson is considered the premier artist of the California vaquero and the horse & cow culture of the Pacific Slope region of the West.

From the vast range lands of Nevada and eastern Oregon to the pastoral oak-covered hills of California, the images in Jack Swanson's work have an unerring realism. Swanson comes by that realism honestly. In the early 1940's, he worked in the Tehachapi's with the last of the great vaqueros. After World War II, he broke and sold wild horses in Oregon, working with the top buckaroos in the northwest cow country. Swanson's landscapes are real because he's been there. He paints from personal observation, with a sensitive eye that can catch and hold all the movements of horse and rider.

Born in 1927, Swanson resided on the ranch that, together with his wife Sally, they built in the upper reaches of Carmel Valley forty-four years ago, where they raised and trained fine stock horses until his passing in September 2014. His studio is surrounded by breaking corrals and arenas – and is the only studio known to have an indoor stall so that the artist can paint horses from life. Swanson, who is a past vice president of the Cowboy Artists of America, once taught a CAA workshop called, "Anatomy of the Horse in Action."

Swanson's bronze sculptures and oil paintings have appeared in many top Western magazines, including Western Horseman, for which he created ten covers. In 1980, he was featured in an article in Time magazine. In 2002, Swanson was named Westerner of the Year at the Western Ranchers Beef Cooperative's sixth annual profit conference, where he was honored as a defender of property rights and ranching. "Ranchers are environmentalists," he said. "Their livelihood depends on their good care of the range. Their families are the type of honest and hardworking people that built America. Their roots are in the land, many for generations, and their land keeps improving under their care."

Swanson's work is collected by all types of people, from real-deal cowboys to famous celebrities. President Ronald Reagan hung one of Swanson's oils in the Oval Room of the White House. His work also hangs in the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, the C. M. Russell Museum, and the National Center for American Western Art.

Find more about JN Swanson and his work at

Gathering performers include headliner Michael Martin Murphey, Dave Stamey, Don Edwards, Sons of the San Joaquin, Waddie Mitchell, RW Hampton, Katy Moffatt, Belinda Gail, Bruce Forman and Cow Bop, Sourdough Slim, Jesse Smith, Adrian, Jeff Gore, Pat Richardson, Karen Ross, and Jim Ross.

Find more about the festival at and on Facebook,

Posted 8/3




   The October, 2015 issue of Western Horseman ( is filled with articles of interest.

On the cover is Jason Rich's "Buckaroo Roper." Inside, Senior Editor Jennifer Denison profiles the artist. Jason Rich just received the "Stetson Award" for the Best Overall Exhibition at the Cowboy Artists of America 50th Anniversary Show. His painting, "End of Day," was selected for the 2014 Cowboy Poetry Week poster. Find more about him in our feature and at

The 25th anniversary of the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering is celebrated in a feature article by Matt Brockman with great photographs by Walter Workman. The many-page article details the history and spirit of the event as well as the work of poet and songwriter Red Steagall that goes far beyond entertaining.

Popular, award-winning chuckwagon cook, storyteller, and cowboy poet Kent Rollins' regular pages include a recipe and plenty of entertainment in "A Bad Trick," in which he reminisces about a memorable Halloween. There are also on-line stories by Kent Rollins on the magazine's web site.

In-demand hatmaker Chaz Mitchell (son of top cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell) is featured in an article by Jennifer Denison. He comments, "Thanks goodness for real working cowboys. That's who keeps me [and other craftsmen] in business. They appreciate good quality and they're willing to wait for it."

The magazine also reviews books and CDs, and the October issue includes reviews of Rough Patches, a collection of stories by writer, poet, and rancher Deanna Dickinson McCall; The LaVonne Houlton Compendium: Ponies, Poetry, and Prose, a collection of the work of the late LaVonne Houlton, poet and Morgan Horse expert; and more.

Also in this issue, Baxter Black's regular "On the Edge of Common Sense" column. This time, a wild tale, "Loose Cow."

Posted 10/20



  In creating The LaVonne Houlton Compendium: Ponies, Poetry and Prose, Janet Gingold delved deeply into research and into friendship to bring forth an outstanding book about award-winning California poet, writer and noted Morgan Horse breeder and historian LaVonne Houlton (1925-2009). The book is of a quality and depth that would please LaVonne, the epitome of both values in her work and her life.

LaVonne Houlton was a poet since childhood, and she raised and showed registered Morgan Horses for 35 years. She wrote articles for many magazines and wrote a regular column for Piggin’ String magazine, which sometimes included her cartoons.

Her ranching relatives in the Dakotas helped develop her love of horses, cattle, and the characters of the West. Her biography here at, where she was a valued contributor, tells that during her teenage years, “There were Herefords and horses, dreams to dream, and many trails to follow. And in the evenings there were the stacks of Western Livestock Journals, with poems by Bruce Kiskaddon and ‘Cowpoke Cartoons’ by Ace Reid with which to while away a few hours.” The reader finds all of those influences in her writing.

Gingold worked with Houlton to collect her writings and continued with the project after Houlton’s death. The book’s acknowledgments and bibliography show the great breadth of research on which the book stands. The lavishly illustrated volume, years in the making, is an impressive tribute to a woman and a way of life.

As noted in its subtitle, the book is divided into three sections: “Ponies: Historic Horse Articles”; “Poetry: Cowboy Poetry”; and “Prose: A Heritage in Prose.” The historical horse articles collect a history of the Western Working Morgan Horse in Houlton’s engaging pieces that span decades. The prose section focuses on her writing about family and friends. In many ways, it is the heart of the book, a look into the places and people who greatly influenced her. LaVonne Houlton’s words always draw the reader into her worlds and you find yourself walking and riding alongside her. These first and last rich sections are generously illustrated with over 75 photographs. Those photographs are also included on an accompanying CD.

The poetry—some sensitive, some humorous, all thoughtful
comes with its own indelible images of people, dogs, horses, time, and place. As in her prose, she offers a universe of experiences to her fortunate readers.

Janet Gingold has done an impressive job of preservation, created in the generous spirit of her subject.

Find some of LaVonne Houlton's poetry here and see some photos from the book in Picture the West.

Visit the book’s Facebook page: and find more, including order information, in our Books section here.

Posted 9/21


 Volume 5.3 (August/September) of Ranch & Reata magazine includes Jayme Feary's look at "The (Old) Double Diamond; the ranch and the song that keeps it memory alive," telling the story of Gary McMahan's modern classic song and the history of the ranch.

Rod Miller tells about popular singer and songwriter Mary Kaye in "Hear Me Sing" and about leathersmith Tim Start in "Hide to Holster."

Hal Cannon profiles songwriter Martha Scanlan in "Songs from the Heart; Martha Scanlan rewrites the rules of cowboy music." Regular contributor Tom Russell writes about artist Tom Lea.

Find many more articles, features, photos and more in Ranch & Reata and visit

Posted 9/14

  Retired Western Folklife Center Founding Director and musician Hal Cannon co-hosts a third compelling radio documentary, “Cowboy Zen,” with Sherre Delys on the Australian Broadcasting Company’s Radio National network. Sherre Delys’ grandfather was an early cowboy singer from Abilene, Texas. “Cowboy Zen” features cowboy poets Henry Real Bird, and Joel Nelson along with rancher and singer-songwriter Dale Burson and others. The program is described:

The iconic American cowboy is a character we all know. These days you might find country singers in Nashville or Tamworth wearing a Stetson hat, or you may hear about a rodeo coming to town. But are there actually people still out there, in the wide-open American West, riding horses every day, taking care of livestock, and living a life that is the stuff of legends?

Sherre Delys and folklorist Hal Cannon travelled to Texas, rented a car and drove over 2800 kilometers, looking for cowboys. They found that despite satellite dishes and mobile phones, the songs, poems and the sounds of ranchlife still exist, with a zen intensity.

Listen to the program and find photos and transcripts here.

An earlier program, "What a Cowboy Hears," includes Joel Nelson, Dale Burson, Kristyn Harris, Andy Hedges, Andy Wilkinson, and others.

The first program in the series is "Cowboy Songsters," featuring Don Edwards, Alissa Hedges, Andy Hedges, Henry Real Bird, Kristyn Harris, Andy Wilkinson, and others.

All of the programs are available for listening or download.

Posted 9/2






  Utah's C.R. Wood took away the "Best of the Best" honors at the 2015 National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo (NCPR), which took place July 30-August 1 in Abilene, Kansas.

First-place winners were:  Rising Stars Division, Poet Serious, Floyd Beard; Poet Humorous, Ron McDaniel, Reciter Serious, Rocky Sullivan; Reciter Humorous, Floyd Beard. Silver Buckle Division, Poet Serious C.R. Wood, Poet Humorous, C.R. Wood; Reciter Serious, C.R. Wood; Reciter Humorous, C.R. Wood. Shoot-out Event, C.R. Wood.

Rodeo judges were: cowboy poet and songwriter Jay Snider; poet, cowboy, and ranch manager Trey Allen; poet and NCPR veteran judge and co-organizer Ed Nesselhuf; Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss; and KFRM General Manager Kyle Bauer. Find more about each at

Find information about all the competitors and complete results at the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo web site at and visit their Facebook page.

Find more in our feature on the event here, which includes a commentary on this year's event by C.R. Wood.

Posted 8/24



  The Badger Clark Memorial Society has merged its operations into the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation and the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre now houses the papers of Charles Badger Clark, Jr. and offers his books and more.

Clark was named South Dakota Poet Laureate in 1937.

The web site reports, "The foundation will oversee the reprinting and distribution of Clark's five volumes of work as well as other materials about Clark. In addition, the foundation will continue the Badger Clark Memorial Society's work of partnering with Custer State Park officials to manage Clark's home, known as the Badger Hole. The Badger Hole is located in Custer State Park..."

Find Badger Clark's books and more here at the South Dakota Historical Society site.
See our features about Badger Clark here.

Posted 7/8


  The cowboy poetry and Western music world mourns the loss of Wayne Nelson, who died August 8, 2015. Wayne was a friend to so many, always bringing smiles to all around him. A long-time member of the Cowboy Poets of Idaho, he was scheduled to make a return appearance to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Raised on a cow-calf operation in the Blackfoot River country in southeast Idaho, he and his wife Becky have lived near American Falls since 1985.

Lewis Kanirie of the Cowboy Poets of Idaho shared the sad news on Facebook:

It is through tears and a very heavy heart that I have to report this news...

"Snake River" Wayne Nelson passed on during the night due to a massive heart attack after fighting off a bout of pneumonia.....

Not only a tremendous poet, songwriter, and entertainer, Wayne was an amazing human being, full of love and care, in the short few years he was in my life I never heard him mutter a negative word about anyone else, and I never heard anyone speak ill of Wayne.

When I first came on the scene at CPI Wayne was one of my biggest supporters from day one, and I always have, and always will be thankful for that. Every event we both made a point to get together for at least a few minutes and just shoot the breeze and get caught up.

The loss of this great man will be felt far and wide, but after the tears have fallen we will always laugh and smile when we think of Wayne. You will always be missed my friend, thank you so very much for the memories, and thank you for making my life that much better just by being in it....

Lewis has created a tribute video, here.

Find information about an August 16, 2015 Celebration of the Life of Wayne Nelson here.

Find an obituary here.

Read a poem by Sam Matisse here that was delivered at the Celebration of Life.

Wayne Nelson will be greatly missed. Find some of his poetry here at the BAR-D.

Updated 8/24


  The Western Folklife Center has selected the art of Oglala Lakota artist Donald F. Montileaux, "Comes Back," for the poster for the 32nd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

The Western Folklife Center comments, "...We chose this piece to represent the Northern Plains, which is our focus for the 32nd Gathering. "Comes Back" was created with India ink and colored pencils on ledger paper from the 1930s. Ledger Art is a Northern Plains Indian art form that refers to the accounting ledger books that were a common source of paper for the Plains Indians from the 1860s to the 1940s. Montileaux is a master ledger artist and, following in the footsteps of his forefathers, has rekindled ledger art with a collection of striking images that capture the unique Lakota ways of life."

Find more about Donald F. Montileaux at and on Facebook.

The 32nd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering takes place January 25-30, 2016 in Elko, Nevada.

Posted 7/6



  The current Ranch & Reata magazine (Volume 4.7) includes National Cowboy Poetry Gathering retired Founding Director Hal Cannon's reflections in "The Magic Still Happens: Revisiting the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

The issue also features rancher-raised artist and writer Teresa Jordan's essay, "Justice, for the Horses, from her outstanding recent collection, The Year of Living Virtuously. She draws on an incident witnessed by Owen Wister (The Virginian) to explore violence and compassion.

In another feature article, "The Start of Something," rancher and writer H. Alan Day offers an excerpt from his book, The Horse Lover: A Cowboy's Quest to Save the Wild Mustangs.

Also of note in the current issue of Ranch & Reata are regular contributor Tom Russell's extensive "Dispatches from Patagonia: The World of J.P.S. Brown"; Buck Brannaman's regular column; and the cover story of Jim McGuire's Nashville portraits, which include artists as diverse as Chet Atkins, George Strait, and Guy Clark. There are many additional articles and regular features. 

Visit Ranch & Reata at

Posted 5/19



  The Summer, 2015 issue of RANGE ( includes an excerpt from Spur Award recipient, writer, and poet Rod Miller's new book, The Lost Frontier: Momentous Moments in the Old West You May Have Missed. The magazine includes an article, "Wiring the Frying Pan: Changing the landscape in the Texas Panhandle," which tells "the story of the Frying Pan Ranch and the 'devil's rope that encircled it."

The book is described by the publisher (TwoDot Press), "Behind the cover are nearly thirty nonfiction accounts from Western history about events and incidents on the frontier that haven’t received the notice they deserve from serious historians. They’re interesting, important, informative, and entertaining and I hope fans of the Old West learn something new." Find more about Rod Miller in our feature here and visit and for more about him and his non-fiction, fiction, and poetry.

Also in the current issue of RANGE: The annual Outback Roundup photography competition results, which includes runner up Kent Reeves' photograph, "Packing in to Gilman Lake"; an extensive  cover story on last year's "Grass March" to Washington; Larry Angier's words and images in "Branding"; a Portrait of the West feature on Don Edwards; and many other articles and features.

Posted 5/13



  We're honored to have cowboy artist, cowboy, and rancher Gary Morton's "Crash of Thunder" for a special National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur.

Gary Morton generously donated two signed prints of "Crash of Thunder" for a drawing giveaway. Entries were accepted through July 22. The winners were Jerry Brooks of Sevier, Utah and Jean Haugen of Lander, Wyoming.

Find our feature on Gary Morton here, and visit his web site,

Updated 7/25


  The National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo (NCPR) has launched a web site for the event: The organizers comment, "You can view and print the rules and entry forms and watch for pictures and bios of the contestants as they are gathered up. Entries are rolling in so be sure to get your entries in as soon as possible as they are limited."

The National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo also has a Facebook page.

Rodeo judges have been announced: cowboy poet and songwriter Jay Snider; poet, cowboy, and ranch manager Trey Allen; poet and NCPR veteran judge and co-organizer Ed Nesselhuf; Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss; and KFRM General Manager Kyle Bauer. Find more about each at

Previously, Dawn and Geff Dawson announced information for the 2015 Rodeo:

The dates for the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo are July 30-August 1, in Abilene Kansas. This is the during the biggest free fair and rodeo in the Midwest (Central Kansas Free Fair and Wild Bill Hickok PRCA Rodeo).

There will be lots to see and do so you may want to spend more time than just the days of the NCPR. The deal is made with the fair board and they have welcomed us with open arms.

If you would like to come as a contestant or a spectator, contact Geff Dawson, or call 785-765-2357 and we will get you hooked up. You're not going to want to miss this event. We have several special guests coming to judge and entertain, and contestants can win thousands of dollars and prizes. Entries are open now.

Find more in our feature on the event here.

Updated 5/19


  Great friend of cowboy poetry, Jim Thompson, is retiring from his daily Country Cafe of the Airwaves / Live! With Jim Thompson show at the end of May. The final show will be May 29, 2015, the 4,250th show.

Poets and others have and will appear on the final shows. See a poem by Yvonne Hollenbeck, "Cowboy Poets Thank You," here, written for Jim, and also one by Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns. Baxter Black was on the Monday, May 18 show and other scheduled guest poets included Andy Nelson, Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns, and Slim McNaught.

An article by Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns, "Jim Thompson Signs Off After 50 Years," appeared in the Tri-State Livestock News.

Jim Thompson will continue his short, syndicated "Good Stuff" (which includes cowboy poetry) and "On the Road" programs. He invites poets to email poems for his final shows and "Good Stuff" to

Find more, including archived shows, and listen online at

[photograph by Jeri Dobrowski]

Updated 6/5



  The death of popular bush poet Milton Taylor (1943-2015) on May 16, 2015 is lamented by his many friends and fans. An award-winning poet and reciter in his Australian homeland, he was a frequent performer at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and other events.

His friend, top reciter Jerry Brooks comments, "Milton's passion for poetryfor sharing poetryset a standard few will ever attain. His mastership of performance and mentoring shone bright. A rare soul."

Earlier this year, he received the Australian Bush Laureate Awards' Judith Hosier Award for "outstanding achievement in nurturing Australia’s unique heritage of rhymed verse." The organization states, "Now in his 70s, Milton is a renowned and highly awarded poet. However it is Milton’s gentlemanly ways and his willingness to help others that has earned him this accolade. He has encouraged and mentored generations of young poets and has unstintingly supported bush poetry events all around Australia for many decades." Find more here.

The Australian Bush Poets Association ( comments, "Milton Taylor was an encouragement and inspiration to so many bush poets. Not only was he a wonderful bloke to know, he was a sensational performer and excellent writer of bush poetry. Many of his award-winning poems appear on the poetry page of this site. On the Roll of Honour page you'll see Milton was five-times Australian Champion—more than anyone else. Very few people are able to master both writing and performance and even fewer can create and deliver both joy and pathos with equal effectiveness. Milton was such a master. He will be greatly missed in bush poetry circles."

Find more tributes and photographs here.

[photograph by Jeri Dobrowski from a 2008 report]

Updated 6/5



  We celebrated the 14th annual Cowboy Poetry Week April 19-25, 2015.

In ranching communities and beyond, from Texas to Florida, poets, musicians, and others took part in events and activities. Western radio shows featuried cowboy poetry programming. Hundreds of libraries in Cowboy Poetry Week's associated Rural Library Program received this year's poster and invitations to receive the forthcoming CD, The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Ten. Cowboy Poetry Week was been recognized this year by many states' governors. Find Cowboy Poetry Week news here.

This year's Cowboy Poetry Week and Rural Library Program were made possible with generous program support from the Sage Foundation; a grant from the Margaret T. Morris Foundation; and the faithful support of all of the Center's sponsors and other donors. initiated Cowboy Poetry Week, and for the celebration's second year, in April 2003, the United States Senate passed a resolution, with unanimous approval, recognizing our Cowboy Poetry Week celebration. Twenty-three states' governors and other officials have recognized Cowboy Poetry Week since, and many activities take place in communities across the West and beyond.

It's not too early to get involved for next year's 15th annual Cowboy Poetry Week. Find ideas and more in the Cowboy Poetry Week news.

Updated 4/30


Top cowboy chef, poet, and storyteller Kent Rollins and Shannon Keller Rollins are great ambassadors  of cowboy culture. The Rollins have just released A Taste of Cowboy, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Cookbooks. The handsome volume is filled with humorous and heartwarming stories and reminiscences; stunning photos; cowboy logic, lore, and wisdom; cookware tips; and nearly 100 mouth-watering inventive yet uncomplicated recipes from breakfast to dessert. It is like no other cookbook as Kent is like no other cook. He comments, "It is my hope that 'A Taste of Cowboy' will be a journey for you into the pastures I’ve been to, the faces I’ve seen and the fires I’ve built." He means it, and it is.

Kent is a popular star on television cooking shows, including PBS, QVC, Food Network's Throwdown with Bobby Flay (Kent won), Chopped Grill Masters and Chopped Redemption, and (currently) NBC's Food Fighters

Kent is the Official Chuck Wagon Cook of Oklahoma. The Rollins take their restored 1876 Studebaker wagon to festivals and events and they cook for cowboys on working ranches. For a great look at their style, see their impressive two-part video, "Spring Works on the Bell Ranch: Reviving Tradition." They also offer a cooking school at their Red River Ranch each spring and fall. See some cooking videos here.

Find more about the Rollins and A Taste of Cowboy at

Find more about Kent and some of his poetry here at and at his web site,, where you'll also find his engaging blog.

Posted 4/11



  The April, 2015 issue of Western Horseman ( includes a feature article by Senior Editor Jennifer Denison about cowboy, ranch manager, and poet Trey Allen, "Iron Will."

Trey Allen is featured on the Cowboy Poetry Week poster in a painting by Don Dane, from a reference photograph by Carol Barlau. The poster is also included in the article. Posters are sent to libraries in Cowboy Poetry Week's Rural Library Program and to supporters of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Find more about the poster here.

Trey Allen has been battling multiple myeloma, and the article focuses on his cowboying experience, his character, and his sense of gratitude. His friend, poet Jay Snider, is quoted, "Trey is one of those guys that lives every day by the same code of ethics as the old-timers. It means something to him that your word is your bond and that you do what you say you're going to do."

A benefit trail ride for Trey Allen is being held May 29, 2015, near Junction, Kansas. Read about it here.

Find more about Trey Allen in our feature here.

Posted 4/6


  The April, 2015 issue of Western Horseman ( includes a review of The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Nine CD, the most recent compilation of classic and contemporary cowboy poetry from

Senior Editor Jennifer Denison writes, "...The annual anthology takes listeners on an oral excursion to places throughout the West, introducing them to colorful cowboy characters, explaining their connection to the land, and telling their tales of tough times and the rewards they receive from living the Western lifestyle..."

The BAR-D Roundup CDs are offered to libraries in Cowboy Poetry Week's Rural Library Program, sent to supporters of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, and are available for purchase.

The BAR-D Roundup is in good company in Western Horseman: there is also a review of Shannon and Kent Rollins' outstanding new book, A Taste of Cowboy, and of Daron Little's likewise impressive Dos Amigos CD.

Find more about all nine volumes of The BAR-D Roundup here.

Posted 4/6

  The young cowboy poets of Cal Farley's Boys Ranch ( in Amarillo, Texas, are featured in an article and video from Live Here from Panhandle PBS. The cowboy poets have recently visited the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Saddle Up in Pigeon Forge.

Cal Farley’s gives a home to children with various challenges, and cowboy poetry has long been a part of their curriculum. One of their best known graduates is Jack "Trey" Allen (depicted on this year's Cowboy Poetry Week poster, now a ranch manager and poet).

The article comments, "One of the many skills taught at the ranch is a fairly unconventional one: cowboy poetry [the story] takes a look at how Boys Ranch students' accept the challenge of penning their own poetry—and it reveals the joy that many of them express at being able to accomplish this task."

Read the article and view the video here.

Posted 2/24



  The Western music and poetry world mourns the loss of cowboy and songster Glenn Ohrlin (1926-2015) who died February 9, 2015, just days after returning from performances at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

A National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow, Glenn Ohrlin's career is described in a biography there. It tells, "As a boy, he heard and liked cowboy songs, and by the age of five, he was singing himself. 'In Minnesota, where I was born,' Ohrlin said, 'everyone sang cowboy songs, even my aunts and uncles. My father was musical; my mother wasn't, particularly. I used to listen to the radio a lot. When I was growing up in the 1930s, every reasonably big radio station had its own singing cowboy. In those days, it wasn't too hard to find one. If a station wanted a cowboy singer, they'd go out and find a working cowboy who knew a few songs.'" Find the complete biography here.

The National Endowments for the Arts also has a thoughtful announcement of Glenn Ohrlin's death, which includes, "....Ohrlin was known for singing in an unornamented Western style, accompanying himself on the guitar with understated rhythms, sometimes embellishing his introductions with his harmonica. Most of his repertoire stems from the period 1875 to 1925 and includes traditional British ballads carried west, sentimental melodies, journalistic poetry, bawdy songs, hobo ditties, and border Spanish tunes he learned as a working cowboy. He also performed a number of folk songs that he learned while in the Army during World War II, as well as many popular country and western songs. In 1973, the University of Illinois Press published The Hell-Bound Train, a book of Ohrlin's 100 favorite cowboy songs and poems. He also produced an album of the same name that consists of cowboy lore and songs."  Read the entire announcement here.

The photograph above shows Glenn Ohrlin with his friend, gifted musician 14-year-old Brigid Reedy, with whom he frequently performed.

Find more and more photos in our announcements here.

[photo by John Michael Reedy;]

Posted 2/10



  The 29th annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering (February 27-28, 2015) has selected Texas artist and rancher Wayne Baize's painting, "Two After One," for its 2015 poster.

Wayne Baize has been a member of the prestigious Cowboy Artists of America since 1995. Find more about him at and on Facebook at

Poets and musicians who will appear at gathering include Apache Adams, Gary Allegretto, Amy Hale Auker, Eli Barsi, "Straw" Berry, Mike Blakely, Jerry Brooks, Dale Burson, Don Cadden, Bob Campbell, Craig Carter, Allan Chapman & Rodeo Kate, Doris Daley, Mikki Daniel, John Davis, Kevin Davis, Elizabeth Ebert, Doug Figgs, Ray Fitzgerald, Pipp Gillette, Jeff Gore, R.W. Hampton, Audrey Hankins, Kristyn Harris, Andy Hedges, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Randy & Hannah Huston, Chris Isaacs, Jill Jones & Three Hands High, Jim Jones, Suzi Killman & Cyndi Bettis, Linda Kirkpatrick, Ross Knox, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Pat Meade, Glenn Moreland, Terry Nash, Joel Nelson, Sam Noble, Kay Nowell, Steve Porter, Gary and Jean Prescott, Mike Querner, Luke Reed, Randy Rieman, Gary Robertson, Heather & Nathan Schmidt, Trinity Seely, R.P. Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger, Rod Taylor, Keith Ward, Andy Wilkinson, and Jim Wilson.

Find more about the event at and here on Facebook.

Posted 2/9


  Australia's Radio National, the country's largest single network, presents Texas Cowboy Songsters, an absorbing radio documentary produced by Sherre Delys and Hal Cannon. From the description:

Texas Cowboy Songsters is an hour-long radio documentary featuring Don Edwards, Andy Hedges and other fine Texas singers and musicians. The story not only tells the story behind the cowboy songster tradition but is a personal exploration into the meaning and value of keeping music alive in the heart. It also contains archival tape of a Abilene cowboy singer, Archie Jefferies, who reminisces about his life of music on local radio in the fifties. He also happens to be the grandfather of Sherre Delys, an award winning Australian radio producer whose roots are in Texas. She co-produced the show with Western Folklife Center Founding Director, Hal Cannon.

The show, which premiered in late January, 2015, can be downloaded or streamed online here.

Posted 2/9



  The current Ranch & Reata magazine (Volume 4.5) includes a feature story, "Each Face Has the West Etched Into It, by Rod Miller about photographer Kevin Martini-Fuller ( and his work in capturing the portraits of cowboy poets over the history of the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Kevin Martini-Fuller is quoted about the experience, "Each January I look forward to the trip to Elko—sort of a cleansing of the soul, to experience the endless space and meet up with the special people I have come to know." Photos of poets Yvonne Hollenbeck, Baxter Black, Joel Nelson, Doris Daley, Rusty McCall, Buck Ramsey, Gail Steiger, Georgie Sicking, Wally McRae, Henry Real Bird, Randy Rieman, Bimbo Cheney, Paul Zarzyski, and Waddie Mitchell are included in the article.

Another feature article, "A Poet and a Dreamer," by Hal Cannon, profiles Texas writer, poet, musician, and "Renaissance man" Andy Wilkinson. Hal Cannon introduces his subject, "How many artists truly believe it's their obligation to use their art to tell the truth about the past, help society deal with the present, and pave the way for the future?" The piece discusses Wilkinson's history and his work. Andy Wilkinson states that "Critical review is healthy to any art. Without it, we won't advance." He comments on the current cowboy poetry and Western music genres,  "There are damn few songs and poems that reflect this place and its real people and culture. Instead, we hear a lot of superficial and nostalgic stuff, much that is looking backwards, hoping to find something better than the present and certainly not as scary as the future."

Also of note in the current issue of Ranch & Reata are an article about Doug Morrione's forthcoming film, Everything in the Song is True, which features Gary McMahan, Yvonne Hollenbeck, and others (read it here); regular contributor Tom Russell's "Four Dreamers on a Western Landscape"; and Scott Ripley's "Portrait of a Saddlemaker," about Justin Thorson.

Visit Ranch & Reata at

Posted 1/8

  His many friends mourn the passing of cowboy poet, farrier, and all-around nice guy Don Kennington on January 1, 2015.

An obituary here tells that Don was born in 1931 in a two-room cabin Star Valley, Wyoming, the second of six children. He became a farrier shoeing over 33,000 horses in his 37-year career. Don was a popular performer at cowboy poetry gatherings, often accompanied by his wife Arlene and often performing with his brother, Phil.

A January 4, 2015 article here in the Standard Examiner, "Friends honor, remember legendary Utah cowboy poet," quotes his long-time friend, Stan Tixier, "The thing most impressive about Don is he didn't know how much he was well known, well liked, and famous locally. He was a humble kind of guy."

Find some of Don Kennington's poetry here at the BAR-D.

Posted 1/5

  Writer and poet Rod Miller is teaching a course, "Introduction to Cowboy Poetry," at the University of Utah Division of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning. The course will be offered on Wednesday evenings from March 25 through April 29, 2015 at the Sandy, Utah campus.

The course is described, with additional information, here:

An introduction to a time-honored literary and folk art of cowboys and the American West, this course will examine the tools and techniques that turn ordinary words into poetry. Poetic works by master cowboy poets, past and present, will be studied, and class members will have the opportunity to create and critique their own compositions. Recitation will also be addressed. While serious attention will be paid to the hows and whys of cowboy poetry, this course will be all about the enjoyment that comes from well-written and carefully crafted words.

Find Rod Miller's announcement in an entry here at his blog.

Find more about Rod Miller in our feature here and visit his web site and his blog,

Posted 12/15


Popular singer and songwriter Michael Martin Murphey and Spalding Labs are creating videos about classic cowboy poets and songwriters, with vintage images, Western art, and performances by Murphey and his band.

The first video is about D.J. O'Malley (1867-1943) and his poem, "When the Work's All Done This Fall," which became a song. Find the video here:

Find more about the poem and song and more about D.J. O'Malley here at in our feature that includes selections of his poetry and prose.

This evocative painting by Kenneth Wyatt, "Stampede and Resurrection," is included in the video. Find more about Kenneth Wyatt at

Spalding Labs has a ticket giveaway for Michael Martin Murphey concerts. Find information here:

They also host Spalding Labs' Flying SL Ranch Radio Show, hosted by Charley Engel on their 24/7 streaming station:

[image © Kenneth Wyatt]

Posted 12/2


  Top cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell has a new collection of his poems, 100 Poems, published by Western Jubilee Recording Company.

From our review:

It doesn't get any better for Waddie Mitchell fans. On the heels of his outstanding Sweat Equity CD, America's top cowboy poet has released an equally outstanding collection, 100 Poems. Both are produced by the estimable Western Jubilee Recording Company (

And what great companion offerings they are. Where the CD offers a breadth of humor and thoughtfulness, the book offers an ever greater depth of both....

Read the entire review here.

Posted 11/22


  The annual Western Music Association awards were announced at the organization's annual convention, November 14-16, 2014, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Andy Nelson received the Male Poet of the Year award and Susie Knight received the Female Poet of the Year award. Deanna Dickinson McCall's Mustang Stories was named the Cowboy Poetry/Western Book of the Year and Andy Nelson's How I Taught Bruno a Lesson was recognized as the Best Cowboy Poetry CD.

Deanna Dickinson McCall received the first annual Georgie Sicking Award, and the winners of the Western Wordsmith chapter's Cowboy Poetry Jackpot were Dennis Russell, Novice Division, and Al "Doc" Mehl, Professional Division.

See a list of all of the winners in all poetry, music, and other categories in our Awards News here, and also here at the Western Music Association web site.

Posted 11/18

  The Western Folklife Center has announced the performers for the 31st annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (January 26-31, 2015). From their announcement:

We are pleased to announce the awesome line-up of poets and musicians performing at the 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 26-31, 2015, in Elko, NV. A total of 55 poets, musicians, duos and bands will perform, including 10 artists who have never performed at the Gathering before. It's time to start planning your trip to Elko! Here they are:

Eli Barsi, Moosomin, Saskatchewan, Canada; Mike Beck, Monterey, CA; Baxter Black, Benson, AZ; Dave Bourne, Agoura Hills, CA; Jerry Brooks, Sevier, UT; Cowboy Celtic, Turner Valley, Alberta, Canada; John Dofflemyer, Lemon Cove, CA; Elizabeth Ebert, Lemmon, SD; Don Edwards, Hico, TX; Thatch Elmer, Bear River, WY; Dick Gibford, New Cuyuma, CA; DW Groethe, Bainville, MT; Kenny Hall, Tropic, UT; Linda Hasselstrom, Hermosa, SD; Chuck Hawthorne, Manor, TX; Andy Hedges, Lubbock, TX; Carol Heuchan, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia; Brenn Hill, Hooper, UT; Yvonne Hollenbeck, Clearfield, SD; Ross Knox, Midpines, CA; Corb Lund & The Hurtin' Albertans, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Deanna Dickinson McCall, Timberon, NM; Gary McMahan, Bellvue, CO; Wally McRae, Forsyth, MT' Doc Mehl, Westminster, CO; Augie Meyer, San Antonio, TX; Chuck Milner, Reydon, OK; Waddie Mitchell, Twin Bridges, NV; Andy Nelson, Pinedale, WY; Joel Nelson, Alpine, TX; Rodney Nelson, Almont, ND; Wayne Nelson, American Falls, ID; Kay Kelley Nowell, Alpine, TX; Glenn Ohrlin, Mountain View, AR; Sharon Salisbury O'Toole, Savery, WY; Ed Peekeekoot, Crofton, British Columbia, Canada; Gretchen Peters & Barry Walsh, Nashville, TN; Shadd Piehl, Mandan, ND; Vess Quinlan, San Acacio, CO; Henry Real Bird, Garryowen, MT; Brigid Reedy, Boulder, MT; Pat Richardson, Merced, CA; Randy Rieman, Dillon, MT; Kent Rollins, Hollis, OK; Tom Russell, Canutillo, TX; Sandy Seaton Sallee, Emigrant, MT; Georgie Sicking, Kaycee, WY; Sourdough Slim & Robert Armstrong, Paradise, CA; Gail Steiger, Prescott, AZ; Caitlyn Taussig, Kremmling, CO; Charis Thorsell, Burbank, OH; Ian Tyson, Longview, Alberta, Canada; The Western Flyers, Burleson, TX; Wylie & The Wild West, Conrad, MT; and Paul Zarzyski, Great Falls, MT.

Find more news about the Gathering here at the BAR-D and find more at the Gathering web site.

[31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering poster by artist Carlos César Díaz Castro]




  The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum presents its annual Small Works, Great Wonders exhibit and sale on Friday, November 14, 2014 (the exhibit continues through December 1, 2014. The exhibit is described, "...Designed with both new and experienced art collectors in mind, this event features paintings and sculptures by National Cowboy Museum Prix de West artists and other specially invited artists."

Among the invited artists are Shawn Cameron, artists whose art was selected for the 2012 Cowboy Poetry Week poster, Shawn Cameron and Tyler Crow, whose art has been featured in Art Spur.

Find more about the event here at the museum's site.

[pictured: C. Michael Dudash, "Headin’ for Town ‘n’ Cashin’ In," Oil on linen panel, 20” x 16, courtesy of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum]

Posted 10/13

    Austrian documentary filmmaker Herbert Krill's outstanding film, Song of the Cowboy: An American Icon Between Yesterday and Tomorrow airs on 3sat TV in Germany on October 18, 2014. The film was available on streaming video for seven days.

Song of the Cowboy captures the spirit of the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and, with stunning photography, explores the work and lives of musicians Gail Steiger, Wylie Gustafson, and Kristyn Harris, and of poet Henry Real Bird.

The film opens with poet and picker
DW Groethe singing "Git Along Little Dogies" in front of the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada, during the gathering. There are clips of Ian Tyson, Waddie Mitchell, Stephanie Davis, Trinity Seely, Glenn Ohrlin, Paul Zarzyski and lively scenes from the event. The heart of the film is in its visits, through a year's seasons, to the ranches where Gail Steiger, Wylie Gustafson, and Henry Real Bird live and work, and in scenes in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area with Krystin Harris. Folklorist David Stanley appears throughout, adding historical and social background.

Herbert Krill comments on the film:

I have filmed a lot in the U.S., but this was special. It was very much outdoors, in the middle of summer and in the dead of winter, on the Montana Hi-Line, on the Crow Reservation, at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, on the Spider Ranch near Prescott, Arizona, and in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area. There were airports, rental cars, and lots of driving, but mostly we were out in nature, immersed in a different kind of lifestyle, far from our usual habitat, close to the ground, among cattle, horses, and cowboys. We filmed SONG OF THE COWBOY in seventeen days, not counting travel. The crew came from Hamburg and Berlin, I arrived from Livingston, Montana, where I had visited friends. And for the second trip, I came straight from Vienna, Austria.

What impressed me a lot: the small town of Conrad, Montana, not far from the Canadian border. This is where Wylie Gustafson grew up and lives now again. Where nothing seems to be going on, and how relaxing that is. Or the beautiful buildings of the Spider Ranch, built out of concrete but comfortable, especially Gail Steiger's house and the guest house where we stayed for a night. Or the cattle drive at the Ft. Worth Stockyards, performed twice a day as a reenactment for tourists, in the middle of the "Metroplex" of seven-odd million people.

And DW Groethe's friendliness, with an easy formality, a tipping of the hat, fascinating to watch over and over again in our editing room in Vienna, where such behavior hasn't been seen for a hundred years or so. Yes, in the editing room, in front of the computer screens, it was soothing to be dealing with the American West, its people, its music, and animal life. The editing process35 dayssurely was hard work for us as usual, but therapeutic as well. The music that we constantly listened to while we were shaping our documentary had healing qualities.

Herbert Krill has "spent many years in the U.S. and especially California, where he worked during twenty years as a Hollywood correspondent for Austrian and German Public TV. Among his over thirty documentary films are several about the history and culture of the U.S. He has made documentaries on Robert Altman, Robert Redford, and Tennessee Williams as well as about Livingston, Montana."

See some stills from the film in
Picture the West.

[title photo, Action Agency Austria; detail of photo of Herbert Krill by Lenka Pleskotova]

Posted 10/17

  Ranch & Reata magazine's Volume 4.3 (August/September, 2014) is filled with compelling articles. Among them, Rod Miller's in-depth profile of talented North Dakota singer-songwriter Jessie Veeder; Hal Cannon's examination of "Little Joe, the Wrangler"; Tom Russell's rich piece on the horses of the L.A. Basin, "Ceremonies of the Horseman"; a richly illustrated "conversation" with noted Western artist William Matthews, "Creating a Coherent Self"; New Mexico photographer Gene Peach's "Cowboy Kids" photograph; and many other features, including Buck Branaman's regular column.

The previous issue led off with a vintage Kurt Markus photo of Waddie Mitchell taken in the mid-1980s at the Stakes Ranch in Jiggs, Nevada. Also among the highlights in that issue are Hal Cannon's "Cowgirl Crooner" profile of Kristyn Harris; Rod Miller's story on sports psychologist Nora Hunt-Lee, "Success is All in Your Head"; Tom Russell on "The Wild West in Europe"; and a beautiful presentation of Jason Rich's Western art, "Rough and Romantic."

Magazine subscribers also have access to all of the previous issues of the impressive publication. There is a free newsletter.

Find more at Ranch & Reata,

Posted 10/3


The image for the poster for Utah's 20th annual Heber Valley Western Music and Cowboy Gathering (October 29-November 2, 2015) is by noted Western artist Carrie Ballantyne. It depicts Montana cowboy Jackson Wald (son of TJ and Nate Wald, who were featured on the first Cowboy Poetry Week poster in a painting by the late Joelle Smith).

From the event web site, "For thirty years, Ballantyne has portrayed her family and friends, neighbors, ranch hands, buckaroos, all the people she has met along the way in the world that attracts her the most...Not one to romanticize the West, her desire is to show real people, sometimes isolated individuals, who love what they do and wouldn’t choose any other way of life." Find more about Carrie Ballantyne at the event's site here and visit

Featured poets at the event include Waddie Mitchell, Doris Daley, Andy Nelson, Paul Bliss, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Jeff Carson, Sam DeLeuww, Rolf Flake, Curly Syndergaard, Thatch Elmer, BJ Smith, and Dick Warwick.

Featured musicians include Michael Martin Murphey, Bar J Wranglers, Home Free, Suzy Bogguss, Sweetback Sisters, Sourdough Slim, Dave Stamey, Belinda Gail, Billy Dean, Eli Barsi, Gretchen Peters, Don Edwards, Steve Spurgin, Saddle Serenade, Texas WildFire, Erica Hansen, Call of the West, Rollie Stevens, Sophia Dion, Doc Mehl, Chuck Pyle, Saddle Strings, David and Jenny Lynn Anderson, Trinity Seely, Hank Cramer, and Kenny Hall.

Find more on the event's Facebook page and at

Posted 8/25

  The image for the gathering poster for Colorado's 26th annual Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering (October 2-5, 2014) is a painting, "Eye of the Beholder," by noted Western artist Billy Schenck (

The artist's bio tells, "Billy Schenck is a contemporary artist with work in over 40 museum collections and corporate collections that include Sony, IBM, Saatchi and Saatchi, American Airlines and others. His subject matter spans genres from western landscape to cowboy pop. He has been exhibited widely in the United States and Europe. He is a World Champion Ranch Sorting winner and the proprietor of the Double Standard Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, his home for the past two decades."

Gathering performers include Tom Russell, Juni Fisher, Ken Cook, Kristyn Harris, Diane Tribitt, Georgie Sicking, Kevin Davis, Trinity Seely, Skylar Harwood, Dick Warwick, Gary Allegretto, Jack Blease, Almeda Bradshaw, Ernie Buhler, Teresa Burleson, Nona Kelley Carver, Mikki Daniel, Mike Dunn, Thatch Elmer, Peggy Godfrey, Paul Harris, Miss "V" the Gypsy Cowbelle, Sid Hausman, Jim Jones, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Slim McWilliams, Peggy Malone, Al "Doc" Mehl, B.J. Smith, Laurie and Cora Rose Wood, Steve Porter, and others.

Gathering Coordinator Linda Mannix comments, "We are honoring ranch women this year and have several events based on that theme." Among the guests are author/artist Teresa Jordan and photographer Barbara Van Cleve. There will be a special screening of
Ridin' and Rhymin', a documentary about revered cowboy and poet Georgie Sicking, followed by a panel discussion about the life of ranch women. Mikki Daniel will host a special "Rising Western Stars" youth show.

Find much more about the gathering, the performers, and all of the activities at and visit the gathering's Facebook page.

Posted 8/6

  Popular poet, storyteller, and chuckwagon cook Kent Rollins returned to the airwaves on August 5 and 12 to take part in Food Fighters, a new NBC show.

See full episodes of both shows: August 5 and August 12.

Kent has two post-broadcast blog posts: "Episode 2 Recap," and "Behind the Scenes."

Kent has gathered a large, enthusiastic audience in past multiple appearances on The Food Network.

Food Fighters ( is described:

This summer, the table is set for the ultimate culinary clash in "Food Fighters," one part cooking competition, one part game show. In a delicious twist, host Adam Richman ("Man v. Food") will give homegrown amateur cooks the chance to test their skills against professional chefs.

Every down-home cook has that one "signature dish" or "secret family recipe" that always gains favor with friends and family. Now, imagine going head-to-head in the kitchen against five professional chefs, who try to cook your specialty dish even better than you - in the hopes of winning over a dinner party made up of the American public. Talk about pressure!

With each savored victory, the cash prize gets bigger and bigger as the home cooks rise to every challenge and out cook the professional chefs. Think you've got what it takes to serve up the competition?

From creator Tim Puntillo ("Minute to Win It," "Baggage") comes "Food Fighters," the competition that proves it's not about the size of your kitchen, it's how you use it! ...

Find more about Kent in our feature here, visit, which includes a link to his interesting blog.

[photo courtesy of Shannon and Kent Rollins]

Updated 8/21

  The National Day of the Cowboy ( organization has announced the recipients of its 2014 Cowboy Keepers Award. From their media release:

With its annual Cowboy Keeper Award, the National Day of the Cowboy 501(c)3 organization has been recognizing individuals, organizations, and projects that have contributed significantly to the preservation of pioneer heritage and cowboy culture, since its founding in 2005. The four exemplary honorees selected by the NDOC Board of Directors to receive the 2014 Cowboy Keeper Award are Andy Nelson; Barb Richhart; Dodge City, Kansas; and Earl W. Bascom. The beautiful image contributed for this year’s award, "Sunrise Chill," is the work of world renowned photographer, Charles Phillips of Mariposa, California.

Wyoming’s Andy Nelson is a farrier, poet, award winning entertainer, author, sound engineer, humanitarian, rodeo announcer, humorist, emcee, and Cow Radio show host, who can “ride, rope and work cattle with the best of ‘em.” The weekly syndicated radio show, "Clear Out West (C.O.W.) Radio," which Andy hosts with his brother Jim, is a leading source for contemporary and vintage cowboy poetry and music and cowboy lore and practices. Through his show, Andy works to promote the talents of others, especially nurturing young poets and musicians. He is aptly described by Brenn Hill as “cowboy all the way.” Nelson cares deeply about cowboy culture and is an active participant, living his life the cowboy way; always exhibiting diligence, generosity, integrity, and humility. He is devoted to his wife, children, and siblings, and is actively involved in their interests and lives.

Read the entire release in our Awards News here.

This year the National Day of the Cowboy is celebrated on July 26. It takes place each year on the fourth Saturday in July.

This year's National Day of the Cowboy Hatch poster includes the work of Oklahoma artist Tyler Crow.

Find more at

Posted 7/10

  Kevin Martini-Fuller ( has created a unique and valuable archive: he has photographed the poets and musicians at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering nearly every year of its 30-year history.

Some of those photographs will be a part of an exhibition, "Portraits and Poems," June 27 to October 20, 2014, in Labruguière in southern France at Espace Photographique Arthur Batut. (Labruguière is the birthplace of pioneer aerial photographer Arthur Batut (1846-1918).

Photos of cowboy poets and their poems will be shown along the main street of Labruguière, along with related events. Kevin comments, "...The exhibition is built around poets, their thoughts through their poetry and scenes of the landscape in which they live."

Find more about the exhibit here: here and on Facebook here.

Posted 6/17


  Arizona artist Marless Fellows' painting, "Cowboy's Journal," was selected as the poster art for the 27th annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering (August 7-9, 2014). The title is the theme for this year's event.

Marless Fellows' art has been featured previously on the gathering's posters. She has been selected many times as a “Quick Draw’ artist at the Phippen Museum of Western Art’s Western Fine Art Show. Her long-awaited book, "A Handshake is Enough: The Cowboy Way Through Art and Poetry," which combines her art with poetry by others, will be released later this summer. Find more about her and her work at

The lineup for the gathering includes Dave Stamey, Mary Kaye, Kristyn Harris, Gail Steiger, Vess Quinlan, Chris Isaacs, Jay Snider, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Carole Jarvis, Terri McCall Knight, Paul Bliss, Rolf Flake, Trinity Seely, Hannah Houston, Randy Huston, Daron Little, Bill Barwick, Gail Starr, Charlotte McCoy, The Broken Chair Band, Jim Dunham, Gary Robertson, Mary Matli, Mike Dunn, Rusty Pistols Cowboy Band, Mike Prince, Sam DeLeeuw, Sue Jones, Straight from the Heart, Tom Weathers, Josiah Lindsey, Josiah Lindsey, Mike White, Joe Konkel, Janet Moore, Janice Deardorff, Jordan Brambila, and the Mountain Saddle Band.

Find more about the event at

Posted 8/1

  The Western Music Association and its Western Wordsmiths chapter has announced the first annual Georgie Sicking Award, to be "presented to the author of a single poem that honors a working ranch cowboy's lifestyle and celebrates our Western heritage." The first award will be given at the 2014 WMA Festival, November 12-16, 2014 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Georgie Sicking, now 93 and still active in performing her cowboy poetry, cowboyed for much of her life. She is a Cowgirl Hall of Fame honoree. Find some of her poetry and more about her in our features here.

The deadline for submissions for the Georgie Sicking Award is September 15, 2014. A pair of trophy spurs, "created in a style that represents spurs that Georgie would herself wear, will be awarded to the winner."

See details about submissions here and on the Western Wordsmiths Facebook page here. Find more about the Western Wordsmiths at their web site,

Posted 6/12

  Persimmon Hill, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum's award-winning journal on the West, features "Women of the West" in its Spring, 2014 issue. Included are two articles by journalist, photographer and designer Jeri Dobrowski: "Working and Living in Paradise," about Montana poet and outfitter Sandy Seaton Sallee, and "Eveyln Cameron, Frontier Photographer," a profile of the celebrated pioneer photographer Evelyn Cameron. Also features are popular singer and songwriter "Buckaroo Girl" Adrian; rodeo great Alice Greenough Orr, top Western photographer Londie Padelsky, and others.

Persimmon Hill, first published in 1970, is the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum's flagship publication. Find more here at the Museum's web site.

Posted 6/4

  The Summer, 2014 issue of RANGE magazine, "The cowboy spirit on America's Outback," includes Jeri Dobrowski's profile of Montana poet and humorist Gwen Petersen in the popular "Confessions of Red Meat Survivors" feature. The article tells how Gwen Petersen made her way to Montana, about her ranching life, and her performing and writing. When asked about her inspiration, she is quoted, "The world is a funny place.  It has its tragedies, but there's a lot of humor."

Also in the current issue, top songwriter and horseman Mike Beck writes movingly about "Healing Hearts" in his work with horses and military veterans in the Joyful Horse Project ( The project rehabilitates horses that have been abandoned, abused, or neglected and works to make them adoptable. Combat veterans in the program learn to do much of that work. Mike Beck comments it is the perfect match, "...putting these wounded or abandoned horses together with veterans who are no helping each other. You should see it. You should feel it ..."

The Summer issue has many other additional features, including the annual Outback Roundup photography winners; Scott Baxter's photo feature about "Arizona Cowpunchers"; Baxter Black's regular column; and more. Visit the RANGE web site at

Posted 5/16

  Hal Cannon, folklorist and retired Founding Director of the Western Folklife Center and National Cowboy Poetry Gathering writes about the origins of "Old Paint" in the latest issue of Ranch & Reata, "the journal of the American West." He investigates the song's authorship and follows a path that leads back to its likely African American roots. In exploring the song's history, he quotes Don Edwards, Rooster Morris, Beth Lomax Hawes, and others. His eloquent piece speaks to the legacy of the West found in a song he calls "a truly American classic."

Also included in the current issue: writer and poet Deanna Dickinson McCall's article about the "Expressing the Rural West Into the Future Exhibition" of young gear makers at the Western Folklife Center; writer and poet Rod Miller's profile of Western writer Johnny D. Boggs and a piece on "cutting phenom" Paige Hadlock; songwriter and regular contributor Tom Russell's article, "A White Horse Named Tequila"; Photographer Lori Faith's article about her Ranch Women Project; and much more.

The magazine's stunning cover is a watercolor by top Western artist Teal Blake.

Publisher Bill Reynolds writes about the magazine's "experiment in a new kind of journalism for the West and the western enthusiast": "Our goal is to have Ranch & Reata reach beyond the passionate and be invitation to those interested in this root-based culture of ours that celebrates not only the entrepreneurial and pioneer spirit embodied in 'westerners' but promotes the idea of proper stewardship of the finite resources of the region..."

Find more at

Posted 5/13

  The Western Folklife Center has announced that Baja vaqueros will be celebrated at the 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (January 26-31, 2015 in Elko, Nevada). In the past, the gathering has celebrated cowboys, herding, and horse cultures from around the world, from Argentina to Mongolia and beyond.

From their newsletter:

... We’ll be visiting a little-known corner of Mexico by celebrating the vaquero culture of Baja California Sur. For nearly 300 years, ranching families have carved out an existence in the rugged, arid environment of the sierra of the Baja peninsula. These ranching families are the direct descendents of Spanish missionary soldiers, and continue to maintain their horseback traditions and use riding equipment that is patterned after the horse gear of these Spanish ancestors. These vaqueros are a living link between Spain and the American buckaroo. Because of their geographic isolation, they continue to produce much of what they need by hand and have retained Spanish Colonial and Native practices of gearmaking, livestock handling and use of medicinal plants that are rarely seen outside the region. Due to the lack of economic opportunity, however, many are leaving the sierra for the city.

Join us to celebrate a real rural western culture that has had a strong influence on our own buckaroo/californio heritage, and learn how Baja vaqueros are responding to their own modern challenges in the rural West.

The 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering will also celebrate the creative American West with an exceptional program of poetry, music, stories, exhibits, films, dancing, workshops and more. Mark your calendars for another winter hoedown with old friends and new.

Featured poets and musicians selected for the 31st gathering will be announced in June.

Find more at the Western Folklife Center,

Posted 5/5

  It's back! Kansas ranchers Dawn and Geff Dawson will head up the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo (NCPR) and plan an August, 2015 event in the central U.S. From their announcement:

Sam Jackson, founder and long-time highly successful producer of the NCPR, has handed off the reins of this event to well-known Cowboy Entertainer and Midwest Event Producer, Geff Dawson. Sam Jackson had decided to retire and had planned on retiring the NCPR event as well—until Sam and Geff struck a deal to keep the NCPR event going. With Geff’s long-time event producing experience and his own successes at previous NCPR events, Geff was thrilled with the opportunity to continue the long-time traditions of cowboy poetry competition through the NCPR format that Sam Jackson created.

Dawson will strive to maintain all the same framework and format that Sam designed and built the event on. The event will continue to include Championship trophy buckles, cowboy prizes and great prize money to the winners. All this and more are in store for the 2015 event which will coincide with a major western event in the central part of the United States. Geff hopes that making the location more centrally located will encourage more fan and contestant participation from the central eastern parts of the U.S. as well as giving the western states folks a new place to venture to. Sam Jackson has agreed to be an advisor and to attend 2015 event.

Find the complete announcement and contact information for being a part of the event in our feature here.

Posted 4/28


  The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum announces the 41st Anniversary Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition and Sale featuring more than 100 artists. The complete catalog is available on line, here.

Included in the exhibit are artists whose work has been featured at Jason Rich (the 2014 Cowboy Poetry Week poster artist), Tim Cox (the 2007 Cowboy Poetry Week poster artist), and Bill Anton (The Big Roundup cover artist).

From the Museum's media release:

... The exhibition and sale will include in excess of 300 Western paintings and sculptures by the finest contemporary Western artists in the nation. Art seminars, receptions and an awards banquet round out the exhibition's opening events June 13-14, 2014...

The exhibiting artists bring a diversity of styles to this prestigious art exhibition. Works range from historical pieces reflecting the early days of the West, to more contemporary and impressionist works of art. Landscapes, wildlife and illustrative scenes are always highlighted in the exhibition. The annual event kicks off with two days of art-related seminars and art demonstrations, a sale of all the art pieces on Saturday and concludes with the Prix de West 41st Anniversary Gala and Awards with Special Live Auction.

....The exhibition runs through Aug. 3. It is just one of the many signature events the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum hosts each year. For information about Prix de West opening weekend, to make reservations, order a catalog of art or make arrangements for proxy bidding call (405) 478-2250, Ext. 233 or visit

[Image by Tim Cox, "Maybe This Will be a Good Year," Oil 22" x 30"; courtesy of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum]

Posted 6/2

  Spalding Labs has launched an internet radio station, featuring Western Music, cowboy poetry, and more. From their announcement:

Spalding Labs Radio Network features 24/7 cowboy-themed music, as well as poetry and western swing, horse tips, interviews with famed equine experts, and much more. Streaming on the internet as the radio station, NFLY—No Fly Radio.

“This is music and content you won’t hear anywhere else. It takes you back to a kinder, maybe not gentler, but more honest time.” According to Tom Spalding the Chief Fly Guy at Spalding Labs. “And it will also get your toes tapping with great music and tickle your funny bone with the sublime humor of cowboy poets.”

Created and produced by syndicated radio talent and horseman, Charley Engel, highlights include one-hour, daily variety shows called The Flying SL Ranch Radio Show. It’s hosted by “Chuckaroo the Buckaroo,” and his pee-wee pard, “Buzz O’Bannon” (the roughest, toughest Fly Predator in the whole United States–AND Texas!). The program’s announcer is “Desert Pete” (Bill Palmese).

Musicians and poets presented include Ian Tyson, Baxter Black, Mary Ann Kennedy, Sons Of The Pioneers, Lyle Lovett, Michael Martin Murphey, RW Hampton, Waddie Mitchell, Gene Autry, Riders In The Sky, Stephanie Davis, and a thousand more! ....

Charley Engel writes, "Not only will you hear The Flying SL Ranch Radio Show with Chuckaroo the Buckaroo, but other great programming as well, like The Best Of The Rick Lamb Show (horse talk), Boogie Back To Texas (western swing), Geezer Theatre (old time western radio shows), and Cowboy Camp Meetin' (inspirational)."

Find the network at

Updated 5/15

© 2013, Jason Rich,  We celebrated the 13th annual Cowboy Poetry Week, April 20-26.


Inaugurated in 2002, Cowboy Poetry Week was officially recognized by unanimous resolution of the United States Senate. The celebration, with a special focus on rural libraries with its Rural Library Program, is held during the third week of April each year, in conjunction with National Poetry Month in the United States and Canada.


We're honored to feature "End of Day," the work of Jason Rich of Utah, Cowboy Artists of America member, as the selected painting for the 2014 Cowboy Poetry Week poster and as our 37th Art Spur offering.

Through Cowboy Poetry Week's outreach Rural Library Program, hundreds of libraries across the West have received this year's original Western art poster and an invitation for the forthcoming ninth edition of
The BAR-D Roundup, our annual CD of classic and contemporary poetry. Some of those libraries are hosting exhibits and events.

Find more about Cowboy Poetry Week events, exhibits, and news here.

All week we shared some of the best-loved cowboy poems here at and also on the
Facebook page.


Find more about Cowboy Poetry Week here.

Updated 4/28

  An outstanding new book from the Western Folklife Center, The Anthology: Celebrating 30 Years of Wrangling Words, collects the works of some of the contemporary cowboy poets and songwriters who have appeared on its National Cowboy Poetry Gathering stage in its thirty-year history.

In the book's introduction, top poet
Baxter Black writes about "...the comet's tail of fireworks that for thirty years has blossomed from its flame...[poetry] has been the key that let Elko beget the phenomenon. The word drives a wooden stake through the heart of every editor, publisher, producer, or director with reason, and yet ... thirty years ago, when an innocent group of people in Nevada had the brass monkeys to connect the word 'cowboy' with the word 'poetry,' it was like mixing uranium-235 with strontium-90. Cowboy Poetry became a magic phrase ..."

There are examples of the finest serious poetry as well as the most popular humorous poetry (for example, Pat Richardson's "The Donner Party" and Yvonne Hollenbeck's "What Would Martha Do?").

The book collects poems and lyrics from  J.B. Allen, Carlos Ashley, Amy Hale Auker, Sally Harper Bates, Virginia Bennett, Everett Brisendine, Ed Brown, Laurie Wagner Buyer, Walt "Bimbo" Cheney, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, Stephanie Davis, John Dofflemyer, Carolyn Dufurrena, Elizabeth Ebert, Rolf Flake, Leon Flick, Dick Gibford, Frank Gleeson, Peggy Godfrey, DW Groethe, Sunny Hancock, Linda Hasselstrom, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Jess Howard, Linda Hussa, Chris Isaacs, Teresa Jordan, Echo Ray Klaproth, Ray Lashley, Bill Lowman, Rod McQueary, Wallace McRae, Larry McWhorter, Lynn Messersmith, Waddie Mitchell, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Kay Kelley Nowell, Howard Norskog, Mike Puhallo, Vess Quinlan, Buck Ramsey, Henry Real Bird, Pat Richardson, Sandy Seaton Sallee, Bob Schild, Georgie Sicking, Jesse Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger, Kent Stockton, Colen H. Sweeten Jr., Andy Wilkinson, and Paul Zarzyski.

Informative sidebars on a variety of themes ("Women and Cowboy Poetry," A Renaissance of Gear Making," "Cowboy Poetry and Song," "Cowboy Poetry Around the World," and pieces on "classic" poets Badger Clark and S. Omar Barker) complement the poetry. There are illustrations throughout by Pat Richardson, Walt LaRue, and Glenn Ohrlin. Longtime gathering photographer Kevin Martini-Fuller provides photographs for each of the contributors.

Find more here at the Western Folklife Center.

Posted 4/3

  The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum has announced the recipients of its prestigious Western Heritage Award, the "Wrangler Award." From the museum:

First presented in 1961, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum Western Heritage Awards were established to honor and encourage the legacy of those whose works in literature, music, film, and television reflect the significant stories of the American West. The awards program also recognizes inductees into the prestigious Hall of Great Westerners and the Hall of Great Western Performers as well as the recipient of the Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award, named in honor of the Museum's founder. Each honoree receives a Wrangler, an impressive bronze sculpture of a cowboy on horseback.

Among the recipients are:

Outstanding Poetry Book
Brushstroke's and Balladeers, Caroline Joy "CJ" Hadley, editor; Range Conservation Foundation & Range Magazine, Publisher

Outstanding Photography Book
A Family of the Land: The Texas Photography of Guy Gillette, Andy Wilkinson, author; University of Oklahoma Press, publisher

Outstanding Traditional Western Music Album
Just Me And My Guitar, Don Edwards

Outstanding Original (Music) Composition
Portrait of a Cowgirl, Eli Barsi

New Horizons (Music)
Gotta Be A Cowgirl, Mikki Daniel

Find all of the recipients (and past recipients) here.

Awards will be presented at a gala event on April 12, 2014, the 53rd annual, with Toby Keith as the Master of Ceremonies.

Posted 3/21

    Jessica Hedges, poet, ranch woman, designer, mother and wife is featured in the February/March 2014 issue of Ranch & Reata magazine in a profile, "Living Poetry," by writer and poet Rod Miller.

In the article, Rod Miller writes, "...she considers cowboy poetry to be therapeutic for society." She is quoted, "I think we have an entire generation who has lost touch with oral tradition. In this day and age of social media, e-mail and texting we've forgotten how to communicate...Cowboy poetry is part is continuing the history and heritage. I'm passing on a way of life that we're living right here and right now. Because in a hundred years, this is going to be incredibly interesting to somebody, just like cowboys from a hundred years ago are incredibly interesting to us."

Jessica Hedges received the Rod McQueary Scholarship this year from the Western Folklife Center, where she has been an invited poet to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. At this year's event, she participated on a lively and informative panel about being "Cowboy in a Digital World."

Recently, Jessica Hedges began posting videos on Youtube with the hashtag #cpfortradition and encourages other poets to take part by posting their own videos. It started with "How it All Began." She recites Waddie Mitchell's poem, "Where to Go," in another of the videos, here. "Where to Go," is referenced as a guiding light in the "Ranch & Reata" article.

Find more about Jessica Hedges here at; at her site,; and  Facebook.

Also of note in the current issue of Ranch & Reata: Western Folklife Center founding director Hal Cannon writes about "Why America Adopted Cowboy Music" and the influence of John Lomax and Theodore Roosevelt.

Find more about the magazine at

Posted 3/14

  California artist Morgan Weistling's ( painting, "The Pursuit," is selected as the poster image and festival icon for the 21st annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival (April 24-27, 2014).

The festival comments:

Morgan Weistling is recognized as one of America's top contemporary painters. He draws upon his many years as an illustrator to create masterful compositions. Most often, his subjects are period pieces, evoking a gentle and gracious time. His paintings have a deep sense of history due to research and authentic costumes.

At Autry National Center's Masters of the American West he was the recipient of the 2000 David P. Usher Patron's Choice Award, the 2003 the Trustees' Purchase Award, and the 2007 and 2008 David P. Usher Patron's Choice and Booth Museum of Western Artists' Choice awards. In 2001, he became the youngest recipient of the coveted Prix de West Purchase Award and Nona Jean Hulsey Buyer's Choice Award. In 2008 he received his second Prix de West Purchase award and in 2011 his third Patron's Choice Award from the Autry National Heritage Museum show "Masters of the American West" for his painting titled "Where Stories Were Told."

Among the performers at the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival are Don Edwards, Sons of the San Joaquin, Waddie Mitchell, Dave Stamey, Cow Bop, Paul Zarzyski, Jon Chandler, Belinda Gail, Tom Corbett Band, Allegretto & Espinosa, Mary Kaye, The Lucky Stars, Band of the California Battalion, Dave Bourne, Joey Dillon, Pop Hayden, Messick Family, Dave Thornbury, Dave Rainwater, Biskit Hatch, and The New Buffalo Soldiers.

Visit the Festival web site for complete information:

Posted 3/10

  New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art presents Stories and Art of the American West: A Festival for All Ages, March 7-8, 2014.

The event is presented in conjunction with the exhibitions The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925 and Early American Guitars: The Instruments of C. F. Martin.

A variety of activities are planned, including performances by cowboy singer Ernie Sites, rope tricks by the Federation of Black Cowboys, Native American music and dance, and more.

Find more information here at the museum's site.

Posted 2/17

  The striking poster art for the 14th annual Saddle Up! at Pigeon Forge event, (February 19-23, 2014) is by Tennessee's Ken Jenkins, a nationally known wildlife photographer. The organizers comment, "He uses his photography skills on his travels to the American West and has an extensive library of images that reflect the western lifestyle. Ken will share stories of his travels and his photography at a Saddle Up Symposium on Wednesday, Feb. 19." Find more about Ken Jenkins, his blog, and examples of his impressive work at

The lineup for Saddle Up! includes T. Scot Wilburn and the Shut Up -N- Playboys, Don Edwards, Red Steagall and the Boys in the Bunkhouse, Ray Doyle, Hot Club of Cowtown, Andy Nelson, Kent Rollins, Belinda Gail, and Joyce Woodson.
The four-day tribute to the American West "features concerts by top cowboy and cowgirl musicians and poets, a chuck wagon cookoff and other western-themed activities for the entire family." Find event and ticket information here.

Posted 2/13

  The 28th annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering took place in Alpine, February 21-22, 2014, "celebrating the oral tradition of the working cowboy in poetry, stories, and music." 

This year's gathering poster image is a painting, "The Snake Charmer," by top Western artist Teal Blake (, whose work is also featured at the Trappings of Texas event at the Museum of Big Bend, the opening of which coincides with the gathering.

Featured performers at the gathering are Amy Hale Auker, Doris Daley, Jill Jones & 3 Hands High, Mary Kaye, and Gail Steiger on the Friday night show and Cowboy Celtic, Allan Chapman and Rodeo Kate, Ken Cook, Chris Isaacs, and Dan Roberts on the Saturday night show; more than 50 performers take part.

Find much much about the gathering, the performers, and all of the activities at

Updated 3/3

  The Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering has been named the "Best Cowboy Poetry Gathering" by True West Magazine.

About the gathering, which was held in early February, from the organizers, "The 22nd Annual Gathering will be held in the Buena Performing Arts Center in Sierra Vista, Arizona, February 7-9, 2014. More than 50 artists from all over the U.S., Canada and Australia will perform in three major stage performances. In addition, there will be mini-concerts at the Arts Center throughout the day on Saturday. The theme this year is 'Train's a Comin’! How the Railroads Changed the West.' Stage performances are on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:00PM and a Sunday matinee at 1:00PM. The mini-concerts run all day Saturday from 10:00AM until 5:00PM. Come and enjoy the adventuresome weekend. There are lots of new faces coming. … And there’ll even be model trains as well. Visit for updates on the event. Phone for information: (520) 266-0558 or 520-249-3545."

Among the poets and musicians are Juni Fisher, Doris Daley, Susie Knight, Kay Kelley Nowell, Randy Huston, Teresa Burleson, Krystin Harris, Marci Broyhill, Susan Parker, Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns, Mikki Daniels, Miss Devon and the Outlaw, Patty Clayton, Al "Doc" Mehl, Peggy Malone, Van Criddle, and many others.

Updated 2/10

  Top cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell has been named as Nevada's honorary poet for the state's 150th birthday celebration and will appear at some of the 150 events scheduled.

From an article here in the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

... Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, chairman of the Sesquicentennial Commission, said Mitchell will debut a poem, "The Dame Nevada," he has written about the state's birthday on Jan. 27 at the annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko....

"As a native of this great state, the inspiration of this poem  came straight from my experience and time spent in Nevada," Mitchell said...

Joining Mitchell for the special performance is poet Walt "Bimbo" Cheney, writer Carolyn Dufurrena and songster Richard Elloyan. The event runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 27 in the Western Folklife Center in Elko.

Read the entire article here and find more about the Nevada 150 celebration at

Photo by Donald Kallaus

Posted 1/20


  Poet, writer, and working cowboy Amy Hale Auker is featured in the January, 2014 issue of Cowboys & Indians magazine, in a feature announced on its cover, "Cowgirls: These Boots Are Made for Working.

Her essay, "But Now I Ride," tells about her experiences, how she came to work as a cowgirl, and what her work means to her. She introduces the piece, telling how she came to "see" the essay, not by sitting in her office, but by working cows, "I wrote it down in my notebook when I got back to camp after the first day of gathering cows, literally unable to write it until I had dirt under my fingernails and horse sweat as my perfume."

Read the entire essay here.

Amy Hale Auker has published an award-winning book of essays, Rightful Place, and has a new novel, Winter of Beauty (recently named the "Best Ranch Life" book by True West magazine). She appears at gatherings across the West, and in coming weeks is a featured performer at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (January 27-February 1) and at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering (February 21-22). Find more about her in our feature here, at, and on her Facebook page.

Posted 1/9

  An inspired new anthology, Brushstrokes & Balladeers: Painters and Poets of the American West, from editor and publisher C.J. Hadley and RANGE magazine, celebrates the depth and breadth of both arts. Starting with Charlie Russell’s “Self-Portrait” and ending with Red Steagall’s “Hats Off to the Cowboy,” many dozens of classic and modern works are offered in the impressive, high quality large-format hardcover book. The volume engages on many levels; the thought-provoking words and pictures include the familiar and obscure, humorous and serious, spirited and serene, irreverent and inspirational.

C.J. Hadley explains, “How did we choose the poets? From twenty-nine years attending the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. From a collection of dozens of cowboy poetry books, hundreds of tracks on CDs, and from suggestions from the first wordsmiths we picked. And for love of language and art, awe for horses, and an appreciation for cowboys, cowgirls, and ranch life.”

There are the words of beloved cowboy poets, lost to us in our time:
Buck Ramsey, Larry McWhorter, Sunny Hancock, Rod McQueary, J. B. Allen, Leon Flick, and E.J. Kirchoff. Contemporary poets include Wally McRae, Baxter Black, Waddie Mitchell, Red Steagall, Vess Quinlan, Joel Nelson, John Dofflemyer, Linda Hussa, Henry Real Bird, Georgie Sicking, Rod Miller, Linda Hasselstrom, Virginia Bennett, Randy Rieman, Bill Jones, Jesse Smith, Carolyn Dufurrena, Jack Walther, Sue Wallis, Shadd Piehl, Gwen Petersen, Laurie Wagner Buyer, Katie Andraski, Patty Barnhart, William E. Black Jr., John L. Moore, and Trish O'Malley.

Classic Western and cowboy poets are represented by S. Omar Barker, Bruce Kiskaddon, Will Ogilvie, Henry Herbert Knibbs, Badger Clark, Curley Fletcher, Jack Thorp, Mary Austin, Allen McCandless, Banjo Paterson, Joaquin Miller, Margot Liberty, and Everett Ruess. Additionally, fitting words are lent by Irish novelist and poet James Joyce; lawyer and U.S. Representative Eleutheros Cooke (1787-1864); and the Navajo Nation’s first Poet Laureate, Luci Tapahanso.

Complementing the poems are paintings, drawings, and illustrations from more than two dozen artists: Roger Archibald, John Bardwell, Buckeye Blake, Teal Blake, James Boren, Nancy Boren, Tom Browning, Mary Ross Buchholz, Tim Cox, Mollie Erkenback, Patty Fox, Don Gill, David Graham, Ann Hanson, Dave Holl, Teresa Jordan, William Matthews, Vel Miller, Karen G. Myers, Bill Owen, John Phelps, Thomas Quinn, Frederic Remington, Jason Rich, C.M. Russell, Steven Saylor, Craig Sheppard, Sophie Sheppard, and J. N. Swanson.

Biographies of all the poets and artists are included.

Find more in our new books news and at

Posted 12/4

Posted 11/5

  Cowboy poets and musicians will come together in a fundraising event "All About the Livestock," at the Historic Homestake Opera House ( in Lead, South Dakota, on Sunday, November 24, 2013 at 2 p.m.

The organizers describe the event, "An afternoon of cowboy music and poetry to raise funds for the ranchers affected by the October 2013 snowstorm Atlas. The afternoon will be filled to the rafters with outstanding cowboy music and poetry ... All proceeds will be donated to the Rancher's Relief Fund ...."

All of the performers are donating their performances. The event is headlined by top Western singer and songwriter
Dave Stamey and emceed by cowboy poet and storyteller Chuck Larsen. Participants include Ken Cook, Robert Dennis, and Paul Larson of Cowboy Culture: South Dakota Style; Trinity Seeley;
Caitlyn Taussig.

Find event details here at the BAR-D and also find the event here on Facebook.

Donations may also be made to The South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund,; PO Box 231, Rapid City, South Dakota, 57709.

Posted 10/30

  Slate magazine features photos of cowboy poets by Jay Sauceda in a November 18, 2013 photo blog, "This is what cowboy poets look like." Included are Jim Cathey, Jay Snider, Joel Nelson, R.P. Smith, Audrey Hankins, and others.

The article tells about the photograph, "He didn't know anything about cowboy poetry until he met a couple cowboys at the Terlingua International Championship Chili Cookoff one year and started photographing them at their camp. One of the cowboys was planning to go to Sul Ross State University for the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, an annual event that brings together poets and poetry enthusiasts for two days of performances. He invited Sauceda to come along.

Read the article here and see more of Jay Sauceda's photos of cowboy poets here at his web site.

Posted 11/18

 The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum has announced that nominations are open for its prestigious Western Heritage Award, the "Wrangler Award." From their media release:

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum® announced the call for entries for the 53rd Annual Western Heritage Awards (WHA) to be held on April 12, 2014. The competition recognizes the best in Western literature, music, television and film. Creators are invited to compete in 16 different Western categories, including Western Music New Horizons, Original Western Music Composition, Traditional Western Music Album, Theatrical Motion Picture, Television Feature Film, Docudrama, Documentary, Television News Feature, Fictional Drama, Western Novel, Nonfiction Book, Art Book, Photography Book, Juvenile Book, Magazine Article and Poetry Book.

Open to anyone producing work in the Western genre, the 2014 WHA will be judged by independent judges who consist of qualified professionals from outside the Museum staff selected for the various categories. The cost is $50 per entry. Submission  deadlines are Nov. 30, 2013 for Literary entries and Dec. 31, 2013 for entries in Music, Television and Film. Awardees will be announced after each judging session, providing participants with early visibility into their competition status. In April, winners will honored at the WHA awards banquet in Oklahoma City where honorees will be awarded the Wrangler, an impressive bronze sculpture.

Find information and past winners here at the museum web site.

    California photographer Heather Hafleigh's photograph of legendary horseman Bill Dorrance (1906-1999) is pictured on the 2013 Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival poster.

Heather Hafleigh is known for her images that document "contemporary ranchers, horsemen and craftsmen in California who are carrying on the Vaquero and Charro traditions."  Some of her work is featured here in a 2011 Picture the West entry. Find more about her and her work at

The Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival takes place December 13-15, 2013 in Monterey, California. Feature performers include Diane Tribitt, Mike Beck, Juni Fisher, Dave Stamey, Paul Zarzyski, Don Edwards, Kristyn Harris, Carolyn Martin, Ed Peekeekoot, Gary Allegretto, Mikki Daniel, Brigid Reedy, Jim and Karen Ross, and The Old West Trio.

Find more about the event here on Facebook and at

Posted 11/6

  Popular poet, storyteller, and chuckwagon cook Kent Rollins returns to the Food Network's Chopped on Tuesday, November 5, 2013. From the announcement:

Kent Rollins, a fan favorite from the Food Network's Chopped Grill Masters, returns for a new episode seeking redemption. Rollins, along with three other former runner-up Chopped contestants will compete again in hopes of reclaiming a victory. Shot in the New York City studio location, this will pose a new adventure for the Oklahoma cowboy. "During Grill Masters, I was more in my element - outside with live fire. New York is a bit intimidating because it's in their kitchen. I may not know what groceries they give me, but I'm out to prove I can cook anything, anywhere, in any condition.

Many may remember Rollins from the widely popular grilling tournament that aired last summer. After a gripping finale and close call, Rollins placed second out of 16 of the nation's top grillers.

Rollins was a unique addition to the cast with his authentic and polite cowboy nature. But what impressed judges the most was his ability to take bizarre foods and make them simple and satisfying. "Like I told Chef Murphy, life is simple, it's people who complicate it."

Rollins makes his home in Hollis, Oklahoma, with his wife Shannon. They are the owners of Red River Ranch Chuck Wagon which was named the Official Chuck Wagon of Oklahoma by its Governor in 1996. The couple travel the country cooking for festivals and private events and are also among a small handful of chuck wagon cooks who maintain the tradition of cooking for cowboys on working ranches during spring and fall works. Rollins has also appeared on the Food Network's
Throwdown with Bobby Flay, beating Flay with his famous chicken fried steak.

The episode "Redeemed or Re-Chopped" will premiere on the Food Network November 5, 10 PM ET/PT, with re-air dates: November 6, 1 AM ET/PT and November 14, 9 PM ET/PT.

Kent and Shannon Rollins take their restored 1876 Studebaker wagon to ranches for spring and fall gatherings; to events such as Saddle Up at Pigeon Forge and Silver Dollar City's "Salute to the American Cowboy" at the National Harvest Festival and also cater weddings and corporate events.

Don't miss two exceptional two-part video, "Spring Works on the Bell Ranch: Reviving Tradition," produced by Kent and Shannon Rollins, with music by Don Edwards and Chuck Cusimano. It is described, "Not since 1958, has a traditional chuck wagon been pulled out on The Bell Ranch. This mini-documentary follows the crew of The Ranch, and chuck wagon cook, Kent Rollins, for four weeks during spring works. Cowboys, remuda and wagon trek across the 290,100 acres of the Bell in northern New Mexico on a mission to revive tradition: Part 1, Part 2.

Kent recites his poem, "Horseshoes and Heaven" on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Two.

Find more about Kent in our feature here, visit, which includes a link to his interesting blog.

[photo courtesy of Shannon and Kent Rollins]

Posted 10/31

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City hosted Cowboy Crossings, October 11-12, 2013. From their announcement:

... The Museum is presenting the Cowboy Artists of America (CAA) 48th Annual Sale & Exhibition alongside the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA) Exhibition and Sale, now in its 15th year. The combination offers collectors of Western fine art an unparalleled opportunity in one location.

The CAA works to authentically preserve and perpetuate the culture of Western life through fine art. The group's inaugural exhibition was held at what was at the time the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1966. Since that time the CAA Sale & Exhibition moved to the Phoenix Art Museum until 2011 when the group returned to the Museum. Today, the organization represents some of the most highly regarded Cowboy artists, including 21 active members, exhibiting more than 100 works of art during the exhibition. Additionally, a minimum bid oil on canvas by the late Cowboy Artist Bill Owen titled, "Caught A Little Deep," will take place at 6 p.m. or by proxy.

The TCAA is dedicated to preserving and promoting saddle making, bit and spurmaking, silver smithing and rawhide braiding, all traditional crafts evolving from the cowboy culture of the American West. TCAA members are master craftsmen who have elevated their work to an artistic level. This year 15 artists will offer approximately 45 works of functional art for purchase and exhibition.

The Museum is hosting a full slate of activities around the opening of the two exhibits....

Find more information at the museum's web site,, where you can also view the entire Cowboy Crossings catalog.

[Pictured: "Caught a Little Deep" by Bill Owen, Oil on canvas, 34" x 34"; image courtesy of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.]

Posted 10/2

  Montanan Chris Owen's art is featured on this year's Heber Valley Western Music & Cowboy Poetry Gathering poster.

He tells about the piece, "Back to Your Momma":

This detail of a cattle drive is set in front of an extraordinary array of limestone palisades just southeast of Red Lodge, Montana...The star of the show is a little “bully” calf that has cut back from the herd which exists unseen in front of the figures. His momma (who is actually way up at the front of the herd) is half of a mile back up the trail, and he has broken from the cattle and gone on the run in search of her. After dutifully taking off after him, one of the cowboys (about half of a mile and ten minutes later) is joined by the other hand who had noticed the calf’s skill at zipping around a horse and heading back up the trail! The viewer of this painting is introduced to the scene after the calf has finally conceded and is being guided back to the bunch. The title “Back to Your Momma” is a statement I overheard an experienced Montana cowhand utter several times under similar circumstances."

Find more about the poster here at the gathering site and visit

Among the poets and musicians featured at the 19th annual Heber Valley Western Musica & Cowboy Poetry Gathering , October 31-November 3, 2013, are Dave Stamey, Waddie Mitchell, Baxter Black, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Andy Nelson, JoLynne Kirkwood, Tom Russell, Brenn Hill, Gary McMahan, Trinity Seeley, Kristyn Harris, Paul Bliss, Gary Allegretto & Ian Espinoza, Rich O'Brien, Belinda Gail, Jeff Carson, R.P. Smith, Jesse Smith, Bar-J Wranglers, Sam DeLeeuw, Joey+Rory, Sons of the San Joaquin, Sweetback Sisters, Red Desert Ramblers, Cook Brothers, Devon Dawson and Outlaw, Call of the West, Rollie Stevens, David and Jenny Lynn Anderson, Hank Cramer, Kenny Hall, Many Strings, Nancy Ruybal, and C. R. Wood.

The event includes, "concerts and western entertainment, a Buckaroo fair and mountain man traders camp, dances, and horse events." Find more at

Posted 10/25

ccamdden.jpg (17340 bytes) With sadness, we learned of the death of much-loved horseman, cowboy poet, singer, and storyteller Charlie Camden on October 19, 2013. In the early years of, Charlie shared stories and poetry in a feature, Just Beyond the Ridge

Charlie was active in many Western organizations and he co-hosted The Western Heritage radio show. He and Kathy Camden founded the Lewiston/ Clarkston Cowboy Poetry, Music, and Western Art Festival.

Find more here and find an additional biography and some of Charlie Camden's words in our feature here.

Posted 10/21

  The popular Wylie & the Wild West band is touring China on an American Routes touring program. From the media release:

The highly regarded American cowboy band Wylie and the Wild West will perform in China for 8 days from September 6-13 as part of a new American Routes Touring program. The band, lead by renowned singer, yodeler and award-winning Montana cowboy will perform at the World Music Essence Festival in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, over three days (Sept-6-8) in an event devoted to preserving and promoting the grasslands and its horse and herding culture as well as music.  Following that they will travel to U.S. Consulates in Shenyang (northeastern China) and Beijing. These two  locations will present workshops and concerts at universities and public theaters. 

Nick Spitzer, American Routes producer and professor of American studies and anthropology at Tulane University, is artistic director of the tour. American Routes received a Taiji Traditional Music Award from the Conservatory of Music (2012) for preservation and presentation.  Spitzer said, “It is gratifying that Chinese festival producers now seek us out for advice on American vernacular performance like cowboy songs and occupational culture, and to have the Embassy in Beijing affirm that interest.”


Tour director is Josh Kohn, program officer for Jazz & Traditional Arts at Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, where he facilitates cultural programs including the French-American Jazz Exchange. Kohn previously created stage and touring concerts for the National Folk Festival and the National Council for the Traditional Arts.


Wylie Gustafson concluded, "I look at the trip as a chance to learn about an ancient horse culture and hopefully our kind of music will resonate with them.  Maybe I'll get a chance to yodel on horseback while I'm there!"

Find more, including audio and video links here at American Routes.

See a September 29, 2013 article in the Great Falls Tribune, "Wylie brings cowboy music to China."

See our feature about Wylie & the Wild West here and visit

Updated 9/23

  Popular Western artist Don Dane's poster for this year's Silver Dollar City "Salute to the Great American Cowboy" (September 12 - October 26) is his fifth for the annual celebration. Pictured are cowboys Chris Isaacs, Kent Rollins, Fred Woehl, and Rex Roberts.

Poet Chris Isaacs and chuck wagon cook Kent Rollins join an outstanding collection of Western music performers at the event , including Riders in the Sky, Kristyn Harris, Jimmy Burson, Open Range, Sons and Brothers, Bill Barwick, Flying W Wranglers, Judy Coder, Stan Mahler, Johnny Kendrick, The Quebe Sisters, R.J. Vandygriff, STAMPEDE!, 3 Trails West, Kerry Grombacker, Barry Ward, Carolyn Martin Swing Band, Mustang Mikki, Dave Stamey, J. Parson, and others. Find more about the event, a part of the National Harvest Festival, which also includes a craft festival, trick riders and stuntmen, and more at their website.

Don Dane is an award-winning artist, with a particular focus on "cowboys, horses, and cattle." His work is featured, along with cowboy poetry and, in a recent blog post by Flemish storyteller
Rob Vanderwildt.

Don Dane's painting, "Great Day to Be a Cowboy," was an Art Spur subject in a special 2007 National Day of the Cowboy feature. Find more about him in our feature here and visit

Posted 8/23

  Cowboy Rusty McCall, a man of courage and fortitude, left this world August 31, 2013. Rusty lived his short life as his entire extraordinary family does, full of love, generosity, and purpose.

About Rusty's life from his family:

David Russell McCall was born June 25th, 1986 in Elko, NV. Rusty, as he was known, grew up on the Elko County family ranch, attending a one room school 25 miles away in Currie until 8th grade. In order to attend high school 65 miles away, he boarded in Wells, NV, with family members and the Louise Lear family. He loved ranch life, riding, working cattle, hunting, and trapping. Rusty loved animals, from cats to chickens, and heifers to horses. He learned old cowboy poems and stories on the ranch, many from his granddad. Rusty was the youngest poet to perform at the Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and went on to perform throughout the West. The cowboy poetry and music community became a second family to him. He was a member of 4-H and FFA. He participated in junior rodeos and on the Wells High School rodeo team, riding in the bareback bronc event. Rusty attended CSI, studying water resource management.

Rusty was diagnosed with a rare disease at age 20, known as NF2. He underwent brain tumor surgeries, chemo and radiation. The disease resulted in deafness, gradually causing many disabilities. Regardless of this, he still kept up a miraculous spirit and sense of humor. He enjoyed touring the ranch to see the cattle, became an avid collector of guns and hunting paraphernalia. He spent many hours conversing with friends and family via computer, and treasured the folks who took the time to communicate with him. He lost his battle on Aug 31, 2013 at home on the ranch, surrounded by family, as was his wish.

Rusty leaves his parents, Deanna Dickinson and David Kendall McCall, paternal grandfather, William Lyndell McCall, sisters Terrill Knight (Jeremy), Katherine Owen (Greg), many aunts and uncles, his beloved nieces and nephews and numerous cousins.

Rusty faced major brain surgery and other procedures, radiation, and treatment for his serious neurofibromatosis condition, spending the last year of his life visiting friends and family, and having visits from them on the McCall's New Mexico ranch.

A popular poet and reciter, Rusty made his first appearance at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at age 3, in 1989. He performed there many times since and at other gatherings, including the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, sometimes along with other the other poets and reciters in his ranching family, including his parents, Dave and Deanna Dickinson McCall, and his sisters Terri Anne Knight and Katie McCall Owen. In recognition of Rusty's indomitable spirit, the 2010 Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering was dedicated to Rusty McCall, "...for his courage and perseverance in spite of his medical problems to carry on the oral tradition of the cowboy."

Rusty will be deeply missed by many, many devoted friends and a great extended family.

A Celebration of Life will be held at the Timberon Lodge in Timberon, New Mexico, at 1:00 Saturday, September 7, 2013. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to help with neurofibromatosis research:  Advocure NF2, PO Box 4118, Clearwater, Florida 33758-4118;

You can write to Deanna and Dave McCall at PO Box 376, Timberon, NM 88350-0376.

Find a memorial page for Rusty McCall with many photos here.

[February, 2009 photograph © Lori Faith Merritt,; 1989 photograph by Kevin Martini-Fuller]

updated 9/4

  The National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration ( marks 25 years at its event, September 5-7, in Lubbock, Texas. From their media release:

The National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration hosts the 25th Silver Anniversary event in Lubbock, Texas, September 5-6-7-8th, 2013 at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. New attractions include sessions featuring performances by Waddie Mitchell, R.W. Hampton, and Mary Kaye. Historical sessions on “Outlaws and Lawmen” will be scheduled throughout, and other 25th anniversary activities include a Reunion Luncheon on Friday and a special session for all performers on Saturday. The Chuck Wagon Roast Coffee will be featured and for sale during regular show hours in the Exhibit Hall booth and Chuck Wagon area, and at the Chuck Wagon Breakfast on Sunday of the event.

The purpose of the event is to celebrate, preserve and pass along our western heritage and cowboy culture. To carry out these goals, the event schedule includes a variety of talented performers throughout the day and nationally recognized artists Waddie Mitchell and R.W. Hampton for the Friday and Saturday night performances. Many talented musicians, poets and storytellers from across the nation will gather to perform as well as presentations of Native American demonstrations and dancing, western authors, horse handling demonstrations by Chance O’Neal of the Four Sixes Ranch and world-famous horse clinician Craig Cameron, the Horse Parade, the National Championship Chuck Wagon Cook-Off, and exhibits of western artworks and merchandise.

The event features more than 100 performers and presenters including cowboy and cowgirl poets, musical acts, storytellers, authentic chuck wagon cooks, special presenters, and exhibit spaces filled with the best in western art and goods. It truly is the premier event of its kind in existence today! One of the largest events annually held in Lubbock, the Symposium draws visitors from many states and multiple nations, and people from more than 30 nations have attended in the previous twenty-four years.

The event has activities for the entire family! Show goers will be able pick and choose from a full schedule of entertainers, western programs, and activities each day of the event. A schedule of

Find more at

Posted 8/30

  Utah's Kanab Writers Conference 2013 (October 25-26, 2013) features a keynote address by Hal Cannon, Founding Director of the Western Folklife Center and the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering; a session on cowboy poetry led by poet and writer Rod Miller, "Writing Beyond Rhyme: Putting the Poetry in Cowboy Poetry"; additional classes on poetry and other genres; and sessions on writing craft basics and on self-publishing and marketing.

Find detailed descriptions of all of the sessions and more information at

Posted 8/9

The ninth annual National Day of the Cowboy was celebrated Saturday, July 27, 2013.

Award-winning Western artist Don Weller ( donated his original art for the event's Hatch Show Print poster. From the National Day of the Cowboy blog:

Even as a boy in Washington, renowned American illustrator and painter, Don Weller, was already drawing
horses and cowboys. When he was out, exploring on his horse, he rode along the banks of the Palouse River or over the rolling hills that surrounded his home near Pullman. He roped calves in high school rodeos and sold cartoons to Western Horseman magazine. His passions have always been horses and art. In college, he continued to rope in college and amateur rodeos in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho...

Read more about Don Weller on the blog and find more about the poster and order information here at the blog.

Don Weller's work is currently on display at Arizona's Desert Caballeros Western Museum (, in an exhibit, Watercolor Cowboys: Don Weller's West.

Each year at we celebrate with a special Art Spur, inviting poets and songwriters to be inspired by Western art and photography. This year, we're pleased to have poems inspired by "Heading West," from PRCA photographer Molly Morrow ( Find the selected poems here. See our National Day of Cowboy feature, with links to the current and past Art Spur subjects here.

Find more about the National Day of the Cowboy on their Facebook page and also at

See some additional National Day of the Cowboy posts on our Facebook page:

Posted 7/26

  Top singer and songwriter and respected horseman Mike Beck's new project, Tribute, gives 100% of its proceeds to The Joyful Horse Project and its Healing with Horses pilot program, where recent military veterans are working with rescue horses.

He tells about about the new album here on his web site:

The Tribute album is primarily a collection of horse songs, but it also includes two songs that were recorded in honor of U.S veterans and a poem by Jeremiah Watt.

I wanted to make this record as a tribute to horses. and, I wanted the proceeds to support a worthy cause—one that helps both horses and people come together in true partnership.

I spent two months in Austin Texas recording this album while working on a pilot program with The Joyful Horse Project (a 501c3 charity). On the weekends U.S. Veterans came out to work with horses that were being rehabilitated from abuse and neglect.

I was there to help the veterans get to where they could catch the horses and work with them safely. Working with the veterans helps give the horses a sense of purpose and gets them in a
better frame of mind for placement into new homes. It's a perfect blend really and it's amazing to see the changes in the both the veterans and the horses.

...Watch the video about this project on my YouTube Channel:

Find the track list and read much more about Tribute here in our feature about Mike Beck.

Learn more about Tribute and The Joyful Horse Project here and on

Among his many scheduled performances, Mike makes return appearances to the Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival (December 15-17, 2013) and to the Western Folklife Center's 30th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (January 27-February 1, 2014).

Find more about Mike Beck and more of his lyrics in our feature here, and visit

Posted 7/25

Third-generation Montana rancher Wallace McRae and his ranching son, Clint, give voice to an urgent message in an important and impressive documentary in the making. Things of Intrinsic Worth is described as "a feature-length documentary film about the future of energy development, democracy, and the American West."

The filmmakers comment, "Things of Intrinsic Worth follows the McRaes as they struggle to save their ranch and the Tongue River Valley amidst the encroaching forces of coal production. The McRae's ranch sits in the epicenter of a battle over the power of corporations, government's role in protecting citizens and the environment, and the future of the climate. The film weaves together a story that travels from the grasslands of Montana, to the Pacific Northwest, to energy hungry Asia..."

The film project, by Carly Calhoun and Sam Despeaux, is seeking funding. A community of interested people is helping to spread the word by sharing the link here to the film's Kickstarter campaign. The link includes a generous clip from the film, which includes Wallace McRae's recitation of his poem, from which the film takes its name.

Wallace McRae was the first cowboy poet to be awarded the National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a recipient of the Montana Governor's Award for the Arts, and has served on the National Council of the Arts. Find more about him and more of his poetry in our feature here, which includes his poem, Things of Intrinsic Worth.

[photo © 2013, Carly Calhoun; all rights reserved.]

Posted 6/19

  The Western Folklife Center has announced that animal welfare advocate, professor, and author Dr. Temple Grandin to will deliver the keynote address on January 30, 2014 at the 30th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (January 27-February 1, 2014) in Elko, Nevada. From the announcement:

Dr. Grandin is best known for her work in developing animal welfare guidelines and designing humane livestock handling facilities that reduce stress for livestock. Half the cattle in the U.S. and Canada are handled in equipment she has designed for meat plants. Dr. Grandin's achievements are remarkable because
she was an autistic child. At age two she had no speech and all the signs of severe autism. Fortunately, her mother defied the advice of the doctors and kept her out of an institution. Many hours of speech therapy, and intensive teaching enabled her to learn speech. Mentoring by her high school science teacher and her aunt on her ranch in Arizona motivated Grandin to study and pursue a career as a scientist and livestock equipment designer.

After receiving a B.A. at Franklin Pierce College, Grandin earned her M.S. in Animal Science at Arizona State University, and was awarded her Ph.D in Animal Science from the University of Illinois in 1989. She currently is a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University where she continues her research while teaching courses on livestock handling and facility design. Her book, Animals in Translation was a New York Times best seller and her book Livestock Handling and Transport, now has a third edition which was published in 2007...

Dr. Grandin has received numerous awards and received honorary doctorates from McGill University, University of  Illinois, and Duke University. HBO produced a movie about Dr. Grandin's early life and career with the livestock industry. The movie starred Claire Danes and received seven Emmy awards, a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award. In 2011, she was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. She is a past member of the Board of  Directors of the Autism Society of America, and gives lectures to parents and teachers throughout the U.S. on her experiences with autism...In 2012, Grandin was inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame.

Find more about the 30th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at the Western Folklife Center's web site.

[photo provided by the Western Folklife Center]

Posted 6/3

  A group of musicians represented the American cowboy on a recent cultural exchange to Turkmenistan, including those pictured above, Western Folklife Center and National Cowboy Poetry Gathering co-founder, folklorist, and musician Hal Cannon; horse trekking operator, musician, and writer Linda Svendsen; cowboy, filmmaker, poet, and songwriter Gail Steiger; and musician, poet, songwriter, and interpreter of classic poems and songs Andy Hedges.

Hal Cannon has documented the group's experiences in a series of blog posts. He introduces the posts:

I'm just back from a cultural tour titled "The American Cowboy Show," sponsored by Vista 360º, an organization from Jackson, Wyoming headed by the amazing Candra Day. We are here to set up a
booth at a big horse conference where we will display cowboy gear, photos, art and play cowboy songs. The Turkmen horse, the Akhal-Teke, is a symbol for the country and this weekend is a national holiday dedicated to the horse. It's a big deal. After the weekend we start going into schools for the U.S. Embassy,
singing songs, telling poems, and showing some videos including a slide show giving our Turkmen audience an idea of where we come from.

I've traveled before to Central Asia with Candra to Kyrgyzstan and I've been looking forward to sharing this new experience with our five-some. Along to perform and do a bit of grass roots diplomacy is Andy Hedges from Texas, Gail Steiger from Arizona and Linda Svendsen from Montana. It's a stellar group of musicians and people who exude goodwill.

Find Hal Cannon's blog posts here.

[photo courtesy of Hal Cannon]

Posted 5/16

  The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame presents Tough by Nature, May 9 through September 9, 2013. From their description:

The exhibition showcases 65 of Lynda Lanker's drawings, paintings, works on paper, and prints, which document a vanishing way of life that affirmed the role of women in the economy and ecology of the American West.

Lanker, who lives in Eugene, Ore., traveled for 19 years through 13 western states sketching, painting, interviewing, and photographing "matriarchs of the West," women who play the essential roles of hardworking ranchers, mothers, cowgirls, wives and homemakers. She is committed to preserve their pioneering spirit, heritage, and stories before more of their ranches are overtaken by urban and corporate development.

"I didn't go out there to prove that their lives were so different from those of the women I knew or the cowboys we thought we knew; I started to discover that they were," Lanker said. "There were at least as many of the female cowhands and ranchers who were doing the same work as the men but they had mainly been portrayed as rodeo queens in tight satin shirts with lots of sequins and fancy boots....

Find more here at the museum's web site.

Poet and National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Honoree Georgie Sicking is included in the book. See more about that in our weekly poem postings here.

Find more about the book here in our new releases news and visit for images and more.

Also this week at the museum, Georgie Sicking and Honoree Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns take part in a panel discussion with other Honorees about their lives.

Posted 5/6

  Arizona artist Steve Atkinson's "Prairie Starbucks" has been selected by the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering ( as their 2013 poster image. His art was also featured on the 2011 Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering poster.

He told us about this painting's inspiration, "This is the kind of scene that I love to paint: An ordinary moment that was played out on countless mornings across this great land. When cowboys got up early and did what they had to do, not because they liked leaving their warm bedrolls, but because they rode for the brand. But at least the smell and taste of a good hot cup of coffee helped to soften the blow."

Steve Atkinson is a founding member of the Artists of the American West and a Signature member of Oil Painters of America. Find more about him at his web site, and on Facebook.

Each year the Arizona Cowboy Poets invite their performing poets to write poems inspired by the gathering poster.

The 26th annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering—one of the most respected
takes place August 8-10, 2013. Visit and the gathering's Facebook page.

Posted 5/1

  The 12th annual Cowboy Poetry Week was celebrated April 21-27. There were many activities and events, from an NFR cowboy poetry contest to a Heritage of the American West workshop featuring two states' poet laureates, Western radio shows, and much more. Find many of the events in our Cowboy Poetry Week news here.

Through the Rural Library Project, hundreds of libraries have received this year's Cowboy Poetry Week poster, which features art by fifth-generation Arizona rancher, poet, and noted artist Shawn Cameron. Selected Art Spur poems inspired by Shawn Cameron's "Making Adjustments" are posted here.

(Posters are not sold. They are sent to libraries in the Rural Library Project and are premiums for supporters of the BAR-D. Find more information about becoming a supporter here.)

Libraries will also receive this year's The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Eight compilation CD of classic and contemporary poetry. This year it is a special Christmas collection, and will be available in the fall. It, too, is a premium for supporters and is also offered to the public. Find information about the past seven volumes of The BAR-D Roundup here.

In 2003, Cowboy Poetry Week was recognized by the U.S. Senate in a unanimous resolution. Since then, twenty-three states' governors have issued proclamations and letters in support of Cowboy Poetry Week and mayors and other and local officials have also recognized the celebration. This year, many poets and others have requested and received recognition from their states' governors. See some of the resulting official documents in our Cowboy Poetry Week news here.

This year's Cowboy Poetry Week is made possible by generous support from the Margaret T. Morris Foundation; Laura and Edmund Wattis Littlefield, Jr.; and the individuals and organizations who support the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, including those who responded to an important challenge donation in late 2012.

Photos of your Cowboy Poetry Week event or exhibit are welcome for posting in our Cowboy Poetry Week news. Just email us.

Updated 4/29

The Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering celebrates its 25th anniversary October 3-6, 2013 and noted artist and fifth-generation Coloradan Duke Beardsley's striking "Socios" was selected as the event's poster art. The Durango gathering site notes, "Duke cowboyed on ranches in his younger days, and still helps work cattle with friends and neighbors."

See an article here in
Southwest Art Magazine about Duke Beardsley that includes interesting information about the painting.

Find more about the poster, the artist, and past gathering posters by Tim Cox and others here at the gathering site and find more about Duke Beardsley at

There is a great lineup of evening performers for the 25th annual Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering, including
Don Edwards, Waddie Mitchell, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger, Chuck Pyle, Gary McMahan, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Dave Stamey, Belinda Gail, and Chris Isaacs. There's an equally impressive lineup of daytime performers; special sessions including one by Amy Auker; and a special evening concert by Juni Fisher.

Find the event on Facebook and visit

Posted 3/22

Smithsonian National Museum of American History's new initiative, the Agricultural Innovation and Heritage Archive, encourages people to share their ranching and farming stories to help preserve America's agricultural heritage. From the web site:

The history of American agriculture has been marked by tremendous transformations. Over the past seventy years, farming has become both more efficient and more sustainable, even as fewer and fewer Americans make their living as farmers.

With the Agriculture Innovation and Heritage Archive, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is asking the public to help us preserve the innovations and experiences of farming and ranching across the United States. Visitors can share their stories about the technologies and innovations that have changed agricultural work, as well as how these changes have affected their communities. The museum hopes to build a comprehensive digital archive of modern agriculture through user-submitted personal stories, photos, and other ephemera.

This online archive depends on your support. Your stories will be used by the Smithsonian’s staff to help prepare new exhibitions like American Enterprise, and several entries will be featured on our museum’s blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account. Additionally, all accepted submissions will be preserved and made publicly available on the archive's website, creating a new database for students, researchers, and scholars. For more on the story behind the archive, see this blog post by the project's lead curator, Peter Liebhold. 

Changes in American agriculture have affected us all; this initiative will help all Americans explore and appreciate this aspect of our shared experience. 

Find out more on how to participate or share your story now....

Posted 3/19

  Ranch & Reata magazine features in its Western Web feature, in an article by award-winning poet and writer Rod Miller in the February/March, 2013 issue. Rod Miller writes, "...log on to and you're tuned into a world that's larger, deeper, and more diverse than you can imagine." The article quotes top poet Doris Daley ("Everything good about community life that binds and bonds people together also happens in cowboy poetry life by checking in at") and Fife Folklore Archive Curator Randy Williams (the site " an important tool for aficionados and researchers...").

Ranch & Reata, a bi-monthly "journal of the American West" offers p oetry, prose, art, music, photography, horses, ranch life, gear, craft, cuisine, traditions and more.

Among other highlights in the current issue, with a cover art by J. N. Swanson, include Editor A.J. Magnum's commentary on saddlemaking; Hal Cannon's article about iconic horseman Tom Dorrance; Range Radio's Bruce Pollock's profile of songwriter and singer phenomenon Adrian; Paul A. Caňada's look at cowboys, "A Helping Hand"; Jayme Feary's essay, "Moving On," about his working experiences; Argentine artist Carlos Montefusco's article and artwork, "Paintings from the Pampa"; noted photographer Jess Leep's images; Rod Miller's article about Utah's Red Cliffs Lodge; Publisher Bill Reynolds' always-interesting feature about classic works, "Books to Find"; legendary horse trainer Buck Brannaman's regular column, this time, "Working with Fear, Part 2"; Top songwriter, musician, artist, and writer Tom Russell's regular column, this time, "The Falconer: A Journey Into the Outback"; and many additional articles and features.

The Ranch & Reata Roadhouse opened recently in St. Ynez, California. Performers have included Tom Russell, Asleep at the Wheel, Brenn Hill, Don Edwards, and Juni Fisher. Dave Stamey is recording a live album at the roadhouse this month.

Ranch & Reata is published in limited print editions and is available by subscription. Find more about Ranch & Reata here, where you can also view on-line versions of the current and past issues. Find them also on Facebook: Ranch & Reata, Range Radio, and Ranch & Reata Roadhouse.

Posted 3/18

Find earlier news here.