On the Trail
It’s fall, we’ve already seen that big old harvest moon. The trees are still yellow and red with just brief twinges of green leaves all waiting for the next big wind storm to blow them down. Ranchers are getting the cows down from summer pastures and thinking about shipping ” or perhaps already engaged in that activity. Fortunately it isn’t yet snowing enough to require daily feeding, so that all means it’s time to pack your bags for a week of entertainment.
Head out to Heber City, Utah, for the 13th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Buckaroo Fair. I’d heard about this event for most of a decade before finally having the opportunity to attend last year. Now that I’ve been there once, I can say I’ve been planning my schedule around that gathering for the past 11 months.
Waddie Mitchell hosts this event so you will see him at almost every activity: seven main concerts, an opening dinner show, on the Heber Valley Railroad, eating Eddie Deen’s East Texas Barbecue, roaming the Buckaroo Trade Show or Mountain Man Trader’s Camp, at the buckaroo dance, and at the jam sessions.
Events begin Nov. 6, at the cowboy steak and dinner show highlighting Waddie, Dave Stamey, Gary McMahan, Belinda Gail, Curly Musgrave and Jeff Carson. This event takes place in Midway, Utah, where the gathering began a baker’s dozen years ago.
On Wednesday, Nov. 7, a tribute to John Wayne gets underway at 1 p.m. to recognize the 100th anniversary of his birthday. Some of the Duke’s greatest movies will play both Nov. 7 and Nov. 8. Wednesday evening Eddie Deen serves his first cowboy dinner, which will be followed by a horse show extravaganza.
On Thursday, Nov. 8, folks head to the Heber City Railroad for the Cowboy Poetry Express that rolls through the valley toward Provo starting at 1 p.m. and features a number of entertainers on board providing continuous music and poetry. That evening Michael Martin Murphey performs with the Philharmonic Symphony and Gary McMahan also takes the stage in the first of the big concert shows. A jam session will follow at the Homestead Resort and full activities begin at the Buckaroo Fair, and Mountain Man Traders Camp.
Continuous entertainment on the Cow Camp stage begins at noon on Friday, Nov. 9, with three main concerts that day as well. In the 2 p.m. Jubilee Show you can see Waddie, Dave Stamey, Kip Calahan, Chris Isaacs, Belinda Gail, and Curly Musgrave. The 5 p.m. show features Sons of the San Joaquin, Rich O’Brien, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Waddie, and Yvonne Hollenbeck. For the final show of the day, at 8 p.m. hear Riders in the Sky as they celebrate their 30th anniversary, plus Sons & Brothers, Jess Howard, and Waddie. A buckaroo dance follows all the other events.
Saturday’s lineup begins with a colt starting clinic at 9 a.m. and continuous music and poetry on the Cow Camp Stage underway at 10 a.m. The Bar J Wranglers give two concerts, one at 11 a.m. and one at 7 p.m. For the first concert they are joined by Belinda Gail, Curly Musgrave, Kent Rollins, and Waddie, and for the second they take the stage with Kip Calahan, Gary McMahan, Andy Nelson, and Waddie. Baxter Black headlines the 3 p.m. concert that also includes Dave Stamey, Carin Mari & Pony Express, and of course Waddie.
Sundays events include cowboy brunch at both Zermatt Resort and Homestead Resort at 11 a.m. and cowboy church at 3 p.m.
Besides the headline performers, a raft of other singers and poets will be on hand including Highway 40, Saddle Strings, Steve Moulton, Latigo, Jim Bone, Brooke Turner, In Cahoots, Gary Russell, Richard Espinoza, Stampede, and Root Beer Reunion. There are an open mic sessions where you’ll have a chance to hear even more good music and poetry.
Whether you come for a day or the full six-day event, I can guarantee you will be entertained. Heber City is nestled in the beautiful Heber Valley close enough to Provo/Orem, Park City and Salt Lake City for convenience, but far enough away to avoid traffic nightmares.
Tickets and other information are available at http://www.hebercitycowboypoetry.com, or by calling (435) 654-3666.
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From June through September, John Etchart spends most of the day driving a tractor through hayfields below the mountains near Meeker in northwestern Colorado.