The 32nd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering starts Monday, January 25, and runs through Saturday, January 30, in the high desert town of Elko, Nevada. An international arts and cultural festival that celebrates the American West, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering brings together an international audience united in their passion for all things Western.
At the 32nd Gathering, nearly 50 poets, musicians and musical groups from the U.S. and Canada will perform on seven stages at four different venues. The line-up includes Don Edwards, Michael Martin Murphey, Waddie Mitchell, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Dave Stamey, Stephanie Davis, Wally McRae, Paul Zarzyski, Elizabeth Ebert, Hot Club of Cowtown, Wylie Gustafson and many more. Produced by the Western Folklife Center, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering also features hands-on workshops in traditional Western arts including hatmaking, leather carving and traditional foodways, as well as Western dances, films, open-mic sessions, and discussions about topics of importance to the rural West. Visit www.westernfolklife.org for a full list of artists, bios and audio samples.
This 32nd Gathering spotlights the Northern Plains of the US and Canada. Sixteen ranchers, poets, musicians and artists from the Northern Plains will perform. A special exhibition in the Western Folklife Center’s Wiegand Gallery will present an artful view of the Northern Plains through photography, illustrations, paintings and handcrafted work. Tickets to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering can be purchased online atwww.westernfolklife.org.
The Gathering was US. Founded by folklorists in 1985, and for a long time was known as the Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering. That inaugural year featured 40 poets, and an audience of less than 1,000. In 2000, the U.S. Senate proclaimed the event’s new name. At the 25th anniversary gathering in 2009, retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was the keynote speaker. Other participants have included Riders in the Sky, George Sicking, Ian Tyson and Baxter Black.
There is something new this year.
The Western Folklife Center will host its own Western Mercantile in the Elko Conference Center. This is the first year the organization will sponsor an area for vendors to sell their wares. The board decided to host the show “to give merchandise vendors a venue to market their products in a location right in the middle of all the action at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering,” said Western Folklife Center CFO Lucy Tomera-Miller.
If you can’t get to Elko, you can still be there. Here is an archive of highlights from past Gatherings, courtesy of Nevada Public Radio in concert with the Western Folklife Center.