In the form it takes today, cowboy gatherings have only been around for about 30 years.
But they stem from the ways of the Old West, and people can experience the tradition at the 27th annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering, which comes to …
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In the form they take today, cowboy gatherings have only been around for about 30 years.
But they stem from the ways of the Old West, and people can experience the tradition at the 27th annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering, which comes to Golden Jan. 21-24.
“It’s a folk art that started with the cattle drives, and it carried on,” said performer and event coordinator Liz Masterson.
This year, people can enjoy four days of old—and contemporary—cowboy tradition through poets and western singers.
The gathering takes people back to a time before iPods and watching movies on a mobile device, Masterson said.
“Everybody is rushed these days,” she said. “This gives them a chance to step back in time and relax a bit.”
People familiar with cowboy gatherings generally enjoy the nostalgia, Masterson said, but the gathering is “also a chance for city folks to be in a different culture.”
Cowboy poetry is a little more animated than what people usually think of as urban poetry, Masterson said.
One of the 15 performers this year is Susie Knight of Conifer, who has been “on the stage and in the saddle” for more than 50 years. Knight performs poetry and songs with her guitar.
“We’re a genre that relates to all ages,” Knight said. “It gets people caught up in a feeling or a memory.”
For example, one of her crowd pleasers is a story about a grandmother, who tells about life as a ranchwoman— milking the cows and fixing her make-up.
People relate because everyone has a grandmother, or is a grandmother, Knight said.
“You write about what you know,” said Andy Nelson, a cowboy poet from Wyoming who includes a lot of humor in his works. And “there’s nothing a cowboy likes more than hearing about a horse wreck.”
But a person does not have to be involved in the cowboy culture to enjoy the gathering, he said.
“Don’t let the topic scare you away,” said Nelson, who has performed at the gathering at least a dozen times. “Those who have never experienced it before become hooked. This is a good opportunity to get your feet wet and delve into the genre.”
Pop Wagner has seen generations grow up through the nearly two decades he has been performing at cowboy gatherings. Along with performing, Wagner will also be having a cinch-making class at this year’s gathering.
The “old-time cowboys” would make their own cinches, he said. The class provides people the opportunity to work with their hands and make something original for their horse that will last a long time.
Golden always turns out an appreciative and interested audience, Wagner said.
“Cowboys have been a part of Colorado since the early days — it makes sense to have it here,” he said. People will “get a taste of the Old west and the New West.”
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