An entertaining step back to the not-so-distant past

John Akal
Posted 1/23/18

It’s kind of weird to think about how certain things used to be, many years ago. As an example, where my house sits now used to be the home of dinosaurs millions of years ago. The view was a little …

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An entertaining step back to the not-so-distant past


It’s kind of weird to think about how certain things used to be, many years ago. As an example, where my house sits now used to be the home of dinosaurs millions of years ago. The view was a little different then as well, the mountains were just forming, and the area was some kind of jungle. Imagine if those creatures were still around. You sure wouldn’t want to crash your car into a Brontosaurus crossing Highway 6 in the middle of the night.

Of course things have changed and eventually the dinosaurs were replaced by herds of buffalo hanging out where my lawn is now, munching on the prairie grass. Then people started moving in. First, groups of what we think of as Native Americans started setting up their own unique style of mobile homes followed by folks of European decent throwing together structures to accommodate and supply other people with an ailment called Gold Fever. Pretty soon we had our own rootin’, tootin’ wild west show going on around here.

Yes, back in the 1800’s Golden was originally one of those crossroads towns where every type of Western character you could think of ended up stopping by for a while. Downtown looked like a set from every cowboy movie you ever saw, complete with hitching posts for horses. Those hitching posts were still around when I was a kid back in the 1960’s and people actually used to ride their horses into town and tie them up right next to the cars parked there.

When you look up at our famous “Howdy folks, welcome to Golden … Where the West lives” sign across Washington Avenue, know that there’s a reason it’s there. Our little metropolis with a college, cute shops, galleries, restaurants and trendy boutiques used to be one of the wildest Western towns around. Adolf Coors didn’t just build his first brewery here because of the water, he had a built in supply of serious beer drinking customers just waiting for him.

Every now and then we have some kind of annual event happening in the area that reminds us all of our Western heritage. In January, it’s the National Western Stock Show in Denver that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. But, at the same time, we have something going on here in Golden that’s a little bit more true to our history and not as well publicized.

It’s the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering, a weekend full of events happening on January 19-21 and is held primarily at the American Mountaineering Center.

Each day and evening the gathering features different shows, classes and programming dedicated to exploring, presenting and preserving the diverse and dynamic cultural heritage of the American West. It celebrates the wisdom, artistry and ingenuity of western folkways through exhibitions, statewide outreach educational programs, and provides a vital link between the past, present and future, where the traditions of the cowboy and the Code of the West are shared through stories, poetry, song and verse.

There are both day and evening programs with some of the best known classic Western musicians, poets and story tellers. The line up includes Vic Anderson, Eli Barsi & John Cunningham, Floyd Beard, Marty Blocker, Doris Daly, Sam DeLeeuw, Richard Elloyan& Steve Wade, Carol Heuchan, Susie Knight, Al “Doc” Mehl, Carin Meri, Dave Stamey, Rod Taylor & Don Richmond, Dick Warwick, Joyce Woodson and the Flying W Wranglers.

Tickets are available for all the shows separately and start at $20 or you can get a total weekend pass for $150. You can find all the information you need, the schedule plus order tickets by going to

The American Mountaineering Center is located at 710 10th Street on the corner of 10th and Washington Ave.

John Akal is a well-known jazz artist/drummer and leader of the 20-piece Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. He also is president of John Akal Imaging, professional commercial photography and multi-media production. He can be reached at


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