Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear |

Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear

Montana’s 26th Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Western Music Rendezvous galloped down the trail to the Yogo Inn in Lewistown, Mont., Thursday, August 11 through Sunday August 14.

So, how was it? You ask.

Wow! The 2011 Gathering dropped a loop on a sensational event.

On Thursday, poets and pickers hunkered down to a barbecue held in the Yogo courtyard. Followed by an open microphone where poets and pickers stunned one another with poetry and song. (Thursday – always a fun dry-run complete with leg-pulling jokes and wry banter crow-hopping in the air like heel flies on posies).

On Friday, daytime sessions burst out of the chutes with poetry and song starting at nine in the morning. In the evening, a foot-stompin’ Jam ‘n Dance in the Sapphire Room nearly burst the walls. The room was a sea of big hats swaying to the music.

By Saturday, the Yogo Inn hallways were awash with people hurrying from one poetry and song venue to the next. Or they browsed cowboy CD’s and books in the bookstore. Or they hiked among the stalls of an amazing bunch of western gear vendors. Paintings, artifacts, jewelry, books, leather items, iron work, clothing – the mind boggled.

Meanwhile out in the courtyard, kids (and quite a few adults) tried their skill (or lack thereof) at roping a plastic steer head. Each participating young roper was awarded his or her very own cowboy bandana.

Bull Mountain Drifters (not a rock group) brought straight shootin’ entertainment to the Gathering in the form of Fast Draw. Have you ever pretended to be the Lone Ranger or Matt Dillon or Annie Oakley, or John Wayne or …? (Pick your favorite western hero or heroine). Bull Mountain Drifter pros taught wanna-be’s how to outdraw the bad guys with a Colt .45.

And then along came Saturday evening and Riders in the Sky. Double and triple, WOW! These superb musicians-songsters-comedians-song writers blew everybody’s minds with their sell-out show at the Fergus Co.

For more than 30 years, America’s favorite singing cowboys have “brought good beef to hungry people.” Meet Ranger Doug (Idol of American Youth) on guitar and baritone vocals, Too Slim (a man aging like fine cheese) on bunkhouse bass and tenor vocals, Woody Paul (King of the Cowboy Fiddlers) on fiddle, tenor and rope tricks, and Joey (the Cow Polka King) on accordion and baritone vocals. For an hour and a half this cowboy quartet had the audience enthralled with a mixture of lively cowboy music and humor.

Riders in the Sky epitomize the real deal – the spirit of cowboy comes shining through.

The Code of the West

• Live each day with courage.

• Take pride in your work.

• Always finish what you start.

• Do what has to be done.

• Be tough, but fair.

• When you make a promise, keep it.

• Ride for the brand.

• Talk less and say more.

• Remember that some things aren’t for sale.

• Know where to draw the line.

~ From James P. Owens book: “Cowboy Ethics.”

This was the biggest Montana Gathering yet, so you may be thinking: That’s it for breaking records. Oh, be ye not of little faith! Karen Kuhlmann, Gathering Coordinator and Bob Steinmann, owner of Yogo Inn, let no grass grow under their feet – oh, no. Karen has already booked phenomenal Baxter Black for next year. Karen, with a big shiny silver-dollar smiles says, “Montana Cowboy Poetry makes a lot of friends for Lewistown and helps to preserve our cowboy history.”

She adds that next year’s Gathering will be August 16-19, 2012. She’s already posted tickets for sale on the website:

Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Western Music Rendezvous Mission Statement: To preserve and celebrate the history, heritage and values of the American cowboy in the upper Rocky Mountain west.

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