Every year during the week of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Western Folklife Center organizes workshops on a variety of topics. It's an excellent opportunity to learn new skills, meet artists and performers, explore and gain knowledge of meaningful and interesting topics, and have a chance to meet and get to know others who share similar interests as you take part in the larger community found at the Gathering. Bookmark this page to quickly see the workshops offered for our next Gathering when information is available.

Become a Western Folklife Center member so you can purchase tickets the day after Labor Day for the 33rd Gathering, to be held January 30-February 4, 2017.

Monday, January 25, 2016

workshop icon Hatmaking
Monday - Wednesday
Learn the art and craft of hatmaking using methods that have changed little since the 19th century. This 3-day workshop will introduce you to hat craft without machines, using a few simple tools and techniques. Participants will learn dry and wet blocking, choosing the correct block, pouncing and finishing the 100% beaver felt. Hats will then be sized, trimmed and ready to wear! Master hatters Roy Jackson and Bernice "Ben" A. McNeven build quality custom hats for clients worldwide at the Jaxonbilt Hat Company, International, based in Salmon, Idaho.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

workshop icon  Hatmaking - Day 2 of 3
workshop icon A Gathering of Masters: Leather Carving
Tuesday & Wednesday
Hone your tooling skills at this 2-day, beginning-to-advanced level workshop with master leather carvers Bob Park, Doug Krause, Steve Mecum, Pedro Pedrini and Andy Stevens. These leather artisans will help you tool a pattern, teach you new techniques and give tips along the way. With one-on-one attention you will learn pattern layout and improve your carving skills. Leather is provided; bring your own tools. Sponsored by Thoroughbred Leather, The Leather Machine Co., and Barry King Tools.
workshop icon Cooking Workshop: Basque Paella and More
SPECIAL NOTE! We've changed locations so this workshop is no longer sold out!
Northeastern Nevada is home to a robust Basque community, famous Basque restaurants, the National Basque Festival and a rich ranching heritage. Among the area's respected Basque cooks are the Zaga family, ranchers from south of Elko at the foot of Harrison Pass. Choch Zaga is known for his Basque-style paella (a rice-based dish prepared for special occasions) and other traditional dishes. In this workshop, Choch and his mother, Simone, will share their version of paella, Basque bread and other family favorites.
workshop icon Photography from the Field
Tuesday 1:00-5:00pm &
Wednesday 8:00am-4:00pm
Join Jessica Brandi Lifland—photo journalist, instructor, cowboy poet photographer and documentarian—as she guides you from pre-shoot to post-shoot. Tuesday afternoon will focus on topics such as f-stops, shutter speeds, how to create a better composition, and understanding moments, emotion and visual storytelling. Use these skills on Wednesday when you shoot at a local ranch, followed by one-on-one editing time, group discussion and a final group slide show. Designed for photographers with basic knowledge of the DSLR camera to experienced amateurs looking to take their image-making to the next level.

Wedesday, January 27, 2016

workshop icon Hatmaking - Day 3 of 3
Leather Carving - Day 2 of 2
Photography - Day 2 of 2
workshop icon A Day at the Ranch

Get a load of the land and the people that make working ranches work on this tour guided by native Nevadan John Collett. Robin and Steve Boies of the Boies Ranch and Agee Smith of the Cottonwood Guest Ranch will share their holistic approach to land stewardship. Both ranches are part of the Shoesole sustainability project and work to improve land and riparian areas through collaborative, consensus-based practices with local stakeholders, agencies, each other, and even the beavers.
workshop icon Cooking Workshop: Let's Have Lunch
SPECIAL NOTE! We've changed locations so this workshop is no longer sold out!
Those who enjoyed dining at the former Elko Basque restaurant, Biltoki, will remember fondly the cabbage soup that opened every meal. In this workshop, Basque chef Ramon Zugazaga promises to share his version of the soup for all to enjoy. Pair it up with homemade Basque sheepherder's bread and croqueta and you are guaranteed some soul-satisfying recipes to try at home.
workshop icon An Afternoon of Cowpoke Cosmos
Poetic Knee-Steerings with Paul Zarzyski
Paul Zarzyski does not write poetry so much as he rides it—"spurring the words wild across the open range of the blank page." In this brutally honest, yet sentimentally intimate, discussion, he'll show how he strives to keep his poems "free of the wire," to keep them following the lodestar lead steer into creativity's infinity. This is a rare opportunity to ask Paul all your burning questions about his work and, more importantly, to hear his heart-felt responses to your work. As seriously as Paul always takes such interactions with his fellow writers, make no mistake: we're talking three hours of 200-proof music-juice FUN! Participants should bring 1-2 unfinished poems of reasonable length to read and discuss.
workshop icon Cooking Workshop: Traditional Foodways of the
Northern Plains
SPECIAL NOTE! We've made changes so this workshop is no longer sold out!

Spend an afternoon making sauerkraut and schnitz, and swapping tips on scrambled pancakes or schmarren with Pam (Beyer) Jones. Pam grew up in Hays, Kansas, a predominantly Volga German community. Many of that county’s residents are descendants of German immigrants who had migrated to the Volga River region of Russia - they brought their foods, dialect, and other cultural aspects with them to Kansas. Being a second generation American, Pam infuses her Volga German heritage into her current life and cuisine, leading participants through the preparation and sampling of bierocks (sometimes called runzas - Pam will tell you all about the distinction), kraut und klobble (sauerkraut and dumplings), schnitz soup (dried fruit soup) and more. This hearty fare from the Plains combined with Pam’s hearty enthusiasm and knowledge on the topic will sustain your interest (and your stomach). Pam currently resides in Casper, Wyoming where she is an adjunct faculty member, coordinator for the Center for Excellence and teaches cooking classes at Casper College.

Friday, January 28, 2016

workshop icon Two-Step Basics
With this classic western dance, you'll have no problem asking that cutie to dance when the lights go down and the band swings into action. The Texas two-step is the perfect way to snuggle close while gliding around the room. Learn the basics and a few fancy twirls from Amy Mills in time for tonight's dance. No partners or experience necessary!
workshop icon Bones Workshop

Learn the knack of clacking the bones! American songster Dom Flemons, co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, teaches the history and skill behind this popular traditional rhythm-maker. Don't have bones? Visit the Western Folklife Center Gift Shop before the workshop.
workshop icon Jump Up and Jitterbug
Jitterbug, jive or six-count swing—no matter what you call it, this perennial favorite promises a wild good time. Join Amy Mills to learn the versatile dance that lets you romp to Texas swing, rockabilly, hot jazz or sultry blues. Amy makes it easy as pie and you make it look great. All levels are welcome and you don't need a partner to attend!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

workshop icon Rodeo Swing

If your toes are tapping but you need some good moves, this is a perfect dance workshop for you. Rodeo swing is the easiest form of swing dancing and the style you'll see at rodeo dances around the West, as well as at our Midnight Dance. Craig Miller will teach you the moves and keep you smiling. Geared to beginning and intermediate dancers, but all levels are welcome. You don't need a partner to attend!
workshop icon Gary Allegretto's "Learn to Play
Cowboy Harmonica Instantly"
Join the world-renowned "Harmonicowboy" Gary Allegretto and learn four western songs at lightning speed—guaranteed. Family fun for adults and kids ages five and up. No experience is necessary! Admission includes a top-quality harmonica, song booklet and everything you need to start playing.
workshop icon Old-Time Ranch Dances
With the current old-time music revival booming across the country, young and old are rediscovering the joys of social dancing to live music. A few simple moves, and these dances can still raise the roof when the bow hits the fiddle strings. Accompanied by live music, Craig Miller will lead you through dances like the Virginia Reel, circle dances an a variety of other dances with simple steps. Partners aren't necessary, just come prepared to meet a lot of people and have a ton of fun, the old-fashioned way.

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