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On the Trail

by Candy Moulton
Encampment, Wyo.

My good friend Mike Blakely, an award winning songwriter/musician and novelist, will be headlining events at the Sixth Annual Grand Encampment Cowboy Gathering July 18-20, in my hometown of Encampment, Wyo., and I surely would like to invite all Fence Post readers to come to town to meet him, and hear his music. Mike just won the Spur Award from Western Writers of America for Best Western Song with his song, “The Last Wild White Buffalo.” This is the first time a Spur has been given for a song, and Mike has set the standard high. I first heard him perform this particular song last year and was blown away by its lyrics.

Mike is currently collaborating with Willie Nelson on a Western novel, that will eventually be adapted to the big screen with Willie playing himself in the lead role. Mike has won other Spur Awards for his novels, and he has entertained in his home state of Texas ” where he has an annual music bash at Luckenbach known as Mike Blakely’s TexAmericana Fandago ” and across the pond (as they say) for crowds in Europe. He is best known in Texas and Switzerland, but has also performed in Australia, Austria, Holland, German, Italy, and Mexico … not to mention Cheyenne, Cody, Colorado Springs, and Idaho Falls during conventions of the Western Writers of America.

Joining Mike on stage for the main performance at the Grand Encampment Cowboy Gathering will be Jake Fleming, an accomplished musician from Baggs, Wyoming, Chuck Larsen, a cowboy poet from Saratoga, Wyoming, and Doris Daley, one of the top female cowboy poets working today, from Southern Alberta, Canada. Doris was named the Best Female Cowboy Poet of North America in 2004 by the Academy of Western Artists.

Other events at the Grand Encampment Cowboy Gathering include a stick horse rodeo, melodrama, living history, chuckwagon breakfast and cowboy church.

The main concert begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 19, at the Encampment School. Tickets are $15 and are available in advance or at the door. Cowboy Gathering memberships are also available with prices beginning at $25, but the Gathering opens on Friday, July 18 with a gunfighter reenactment at 6 p.m. at the Encampment Opera House followed by a melodrama presented by the Grand Encampment Opera Company and a campfire poetry and music jam session at Grand View Park immediately after the melodrama.

The Grand Encampment Museum will hold a book signing at 10 a.m., on July 19. The Cowboy Outfit will hold the annual Stick Horse Rodeo for kids of all ages beginning at 11 a.m., at Grand View Park in Encampment. Cowboy music and poetry will be presented on the stage in Grand View Park beginning at 1 p.m. with performances by Daron Little, Tom and Donna Hatton, Al “Doc” Mehl, Ken Kresuel, Jess Gallatin, Paul Harris, Sam Platts, Laurie and Cora Wood, Steve Moulton, and the Encampment Community Choir. Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon show is Jerry Paxton.

The Encampment-Riverside Lions Club will serve lunch at the park beginning at noon.

Following evening events informal music and poetry jam sessions will be held by the campfire in Grand View Park. Anyone interested in sharing music or a poem is encouraged to attend.

On Sunday, July 20, events include a cowboy breakfast to be served from 8 to 10 a.m. on the museum grounds. Also Sunday cowboy church will be conducted by Ken and Becky Kreusel in Grand View Park beginning at 10 a.m. Doris Daley will present a poetry workshop at 1 p.m.

The Grand Encampment Museum will have living history, “Celebrating the Slow & Easy Railroad,” from noon to 5 p.m. During the day volunteers will engage in pioneer activities and crafts. Everyone is urged to dress in pioneer outfits for the day at the museum.

The Grand Encampment Cowboy Gathering is organized by ranchers, musicians, poets and writers living in the area as a way to help preserve and promote ranching and cowboy culture and lifestyle. It is co-sponsored by the Grand Encampment Museum with assistance from the Town of Encampment, Town of Riverside and many businesses and individuals in the Platte Valley.

For more information on any of the events contact the Saratoga-Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce at (307) 326-8855 or visit the Cowboy Gathering Web site at http://www.grandencampmentgathering.org.

Funding for Doris Daly to attend the Gathering comes from WESTAF and the National Endowment for the Humanities.


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