August is a special time in Prescott when people come from across America to attend the 31st annual Gathering of Cowboy Poets at Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. Nightly performances are at 7 p.m. Aug. 9, 10 and 11.
More than 40 authentic cowboy poets and singers will perform for two days and three nights, sharing the heritage and the culture of the American cowboy. The theme for this year’s gathering is “Nightcap” and features a poster by nationally recognized Western artist Steve Atkinson.
Organizers of the gathering believe in sharing the authentic way of the cowboy and how cowboy poetry and music is developed. The gathering will feature free day sessions in which attendees can meet cowboy poets and singers to enjoy stories about the colorful culture and history that celebrate the true American cowboy.
The public is invited to attend five different venues throughout the Yavapai College campus. Daytime sessions run noon to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Attendees are invited to experience more about the cowboy heritage and culture by having “Coffee with the Cowboys” at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Performances begin at 7 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Thursday night will feature Texans Jean and Gary Prescott, whose song “Fair Blows the Wind” received Top Cowboy Song of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists in 2005. Friday night’s featured performer is Alberta ranch woman Doris Daley, whose love of wordsmithing has made her one of North America’s favorite Western poets and humorists. Kevin Davis, an award-winning singer and songwriter from Oklahoma, will be featured on Saturday. Tickets are available at the door, but ordering in advance is advised to insure seating.
The Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering has maintained a standard that has been abandoned by most other gatherings by inviting men and women who are now, or have been, a part of the working cowboy environment and workplace. It is respected by the cowboy poets as one of the best gatherings in the country because it helps maintain the true “working cowboy” culture and heritage. This gathering each year has kept its focus on the working cowboy, the land and their livestock.
At its inception, a small group of volunteers produced the event at the Sharlot Hall Museum. Due to its popularity, the gathering was moved in 2008 to the bigger venue on the campus of Yavapai College.
“We really couldn’t do this large event without our hard-working volunteers who have dedicated their time to bring this to Prescott for the past 31 years,” said the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering’s Board President Joe Konkel. “The culture of the American cowboy lives on stage here every year and it’s been an honor to bring this form of entertainment to locals and tourists alike.”
Poet Gail Steiger said, “Cowboy poetry is generally about living the life of a cowboy working on a ranch. The material comes from the heart. It comes from experience. The Arizona Cowboy Poetry Gathering gives working cowboys writing and reciting cowboy poetry an opportunity to get on the stage and share poems, songs and stories that are important to them. Some will make you laugh, some might bring a tear to your eye, some might make you think about what’s important to you. Most cowboy poetry and music is not Western novel and movie fare. It comes from real life, out here in the real West.”
Board member Jim Buchanan added, “The Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering is respected by the cowboy poets as one of the best gatherings in the country because we’ve done so much to maintain the true ‘working cowboy’ culture and heritage. Our patrons can’t say enough good things.”
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.azcowboypoets.org.