La Sal, Elko, Heber City
I was in Hawaii years ago and stood in line behind a man who wore a cap embroidered with the words, “Paris, New York, Moab”.
Hmm, thinks I, must have bought the hat in Moab. Bet he didn’t get it in Paris or even New York.
So now La Sal can tout that it goes with Elko and Heber City. What do these towns have in common? Most folks won’t know, but a few of the “breed” will recognize the commonality.
Two weeks ago, a friend of my husband’s, Darrell Holden, who I mentioned last we spoke, offered to entertain the folks of Sierra La Sal with an evening of cowboy poetry.
He and family were in the vicinity for the division wrestling in Monticello. By the way, his son took first at the meet and was voted outstanding wrestler. Way to go. That made it well worth the trip.
For a La Sal social gathering there was a nice crowd, about 40 people. I’ve not seen that great a turnout for an event here in many a year.
I think everyone in attendance thought it well worth the effort to brave the cold, wintery night to be entertained for an hour.
What was surprising to me was how many folks came up to me afterward and said they had never heard of Cowboy Poetry. Say what?
These are people who are products of the western US-of-A and connected to the land and livestock and an agrarian way of life. I had to explain to them about Elko and Heber City gatherings.
The primo event in this field of entertainment is the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV first held in 1985.
To be invited to participate there is a great honor in the realm of cowboy poetry. For the State of Utah, the same holds true for Heber City.
Poets, very often real cowboys, set to rhyme their way of life. That includes the ups and downs, the long hours, and short pay.
They also speak of the joy of cowboy life – wide open spaces and working with the animals, both horses and the often frustration of working with cattle.
Sunsets, fresh air, dogs, and horses that are man’s best friends – they speak of it all.
They don’t let the Feds off the hook, cussing the Forest Service and BLM.
These gatherings aren’t just about the recitation of cowboy life, but include food, music, dancing, exhibits, and many other features of western life on the range.
And it is not just obscure folks who are involved. The guest speaker in Elko for their 25th year was Judge Sandra Day O’Connor.
What started in 1985 in Elko with 40 poets and 1,000 attendees has grown and the success of the gathering has led to others throughout the West. That includes one in Durango, CO which I believe is still held in October. It includes a parade in the historic town.
Fifteen or twenty years ago, Moab held a gathering and besides poetry had some excellent musical entertainers who were familiar to “cowboys”.
I’m not sure why they were not continued as I thought them to be a lot of fun. I guess that equates to a lot of work too.
If you want to know more about Cowboy Poetry, you can find lots of recitations on YouTube.
Try it. You might like it. And if you’re a true child of the West, I bet you find something with which you can identify.