Education is Central to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 14, 2007
Contact: Darcy Minter
Western Folklife Center
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 Education is Central to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering
2008 Gathering Offers Many Learning Opportunities to Adults and Kids

Elko - Whether you are a youngster, getting on in years, or somewhere in between, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering provides many opportunities for you to learn about and enjoy the culture and traditions of the American West. The 24th Gathering, which begins on January 26 and runs through February 2, 2008, welcomes traditional Mexican artists from Sonora, Mexico, and the western U.S. to share their knowledge and skills. At the Gathering you can choose from 16 different hands-on workshops taught by master traditional artists including: horsemanship; ropemaking; ranch tours; poetry, prose and songwriting; haltermaking; ranch roping, dancing; and lots of regional cooking. These classes are a great way to learn new skills, develop creatively and meet others who share your interests. For kids, these activities are just plain fun and a great way to learn about the traditional culture of the West.

Just for Adults

Here are a few of the "adults" workshops offered at the 2008 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering:

Gearmaking: Sonoran ropemaker Jesús García will introduce participants to the process of making a horsehair rope with tools typically used in Sonora.

Ranch Tours: Elko County, Nevada, is cattle country and participants on this tour will visit working ranches, where they will learn about the rich ranching heritage of northeastern Nevada and get a glimpse of the daily routine of the modern rancher's way of life.

Cooking: Several cooking workshops provide opportunities to learn favorite recipes from Sonora, make a Mexican brunch and learn chuckwagon-style dutch oven cooking.

Horsemanship: Renowned horse trainer Bobby Ingersoll will demonstrate and teach the Spanish vaquero style of training stock horses, a time-honored method of working with the heart and mind of the horse.

Dance: Participants can learn to dance in the Latin tradition, or try out the pony swing or the waltz in one of three dance workshops.

Writing and Songwriting: Share and record your stories about food in a writing workshop or listen to two legendary western songwriters -- Ian Tyson and Tom Russell - discuss their work and their collaborations.

For more information about these workshops, including dates, times and prices, visit the Western Folklife Center website, or call the ticket office at 888-880-5885 or 775-738-7508.

Just for Kids

Each year, the Western Folklife Center serves approximately 6,000 school children through its education programs during the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. In addition to assemblies in the schools throughout Elko County, where traditional artists, cowboy poets and musicians perform, kids can participate in workshops designed especially for them, attend the Western Folklife Center Youth Festival, the Cow Kids' Stampede, the Student Art Show and the Young Buckaroo Poetry Session. Rural and home-schooled kids can also get in on the action in a special program.

Youth workshops at the 2008 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering include:

Poetry writing for high school students with Montana poet Paul Zarzyski, who is known for his irreverent and highly creative style. This workshop is held in collaboration with Elko High School English teachers. Monday and Tuesday, January 28 and 29; high school students only.

Corrido writing with Mexican musician Juan Díes. Corridos are Mexican ballads that tell the stories of heroes, horses, love and moments gone wrong. The workshop will focus primarily on corrido writing, but students will also work with Juan to put their corridos to music. Saturday, February 2; ages 10 to 18.

Ranch Roping with Starr Valley, Nevada, rancher Fred Garrett. Kids will learn the basics of throwing, setting and placing loops, and how to cast a variety of throws for horse and cattle, mixed with a few fancy moves. Saturday, February 2; ages 10 to 18.

For the first time, because of local demand, the Western Folklife Center has moved the Cow Kid's Stampede performances to the Elko Convention Center Auditorium, where there is space to accommodate many more students. Most of these activities are only $2.00 a student thanks to the generous support of our sponsors.

Youth activities in 2008 include:

Student Art Show: Elko County student artwork exploring themes of The New West: Grabbing the Future by the Horns will be on display in the Western Folklife Center G Three Bar Theater and lobby areas. Opens Tuesday, January 22.

Western Folklife Center Youth Festival: Students participate in activities to learn about Mexican folklife, take tours of Western Folklife Center exhibits, stamp leather and drink sarsaparilla. At the Western Folklife Center, January 22-24. Grades three though five.

Cow Kids Stampede: This program features young fiddling sensations The Quebe Sisters Band, who will entertain everyone with their fast-paced fiddle music and close-harmony songs. At the Elko Convention Center, January 30. Kindergarten through eighth grade.

Rural and Home School Program: Rural and home-schooled students are invited to participate in a variety of activities that include performances by special guests from Mexico and young accordionist Ginny Mac. After the concert, students will have the opportunity to meet the artists. Elko Junior High Auxiliary Gym, Wednesday, January 30. Grades one through eight.

For the Elko Community

Library Story Time: Storyteller Kent Rollins will be the featured guest at Elko County Library Story Time, Thursday, January 30, 2008, at 10:30 am in the Elko County Library, 720 Court Street, Elko.

Young Buckaroo Poetry Session: Kids perform original poetry, classic recitations and western music. Anyone under 18 can participate, and the event is free to all participants and attendees.


The purpose of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering -- known simply as "Elko" to many -- is to present and preserve the traditional and contemporary arts created by people living close to the land in the American West. Through poetry, music, stories, handcrafted gear, film, photography, food and more, the Western Folklife Center strives to convey the richness as well as the challenges of rural life in the West. In recent years, discussions of rural issues have become an integral part of the Gathering, as leaders in the conservation movement have come together with ranchers to find much common ground in an atmosphere of collaboration and concern for the future of the West.

Started in 1985 by a small group of folklorists, poets and musicians, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering has become an annual ritual for thousands of people who value and practice the artistic traditions of the region, and are concerned about the present and future of the West. Hundreds of cowboy poetry gatherings have since taken hold across the West and the nation over the last 24 years, as the Elko Gathering has reinvigorated a tradition that never ceased to be a part of the lives of cowboys, ranchers and rural westerners. In 2000, the U.S. Senate recognized the cultural value of this tradition and the event responsible for its renaissance when it passed a resolution naming the Elko Gathering the "National" Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

The Gathering will feature performances by close to 60 poets, musicians and musical groups, including new faces and returning favorites. Special exhibits, workshops, films, lectures, panel discussions, ranch dances and late-night jam sessions, all contribute to the depth, richness and authenticity of this one-of-a-kind event.

For information about education programs, contact Christina Barr at 775-738-7508 ext. 236; to register for workshops, contact the Western Folklife Center ticket office at 888-880-5885 or 775-738-7508 ext. 239. Tickets for the workshops can be purchased at the Western Folklife Center's ticket office, 501 Railroad Street, Elko, Nevada or online at

If you are interested in applying for press credentials, submit the Media Credential Application Form online through our website. If you have questions or need more information about the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, please contact Darcy Minter at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 775-340-4240.

These programs are made possible with support from Barrick Gold Strike Mines, Inc., Bretzlaff Foundation, City of Elko, Elko County Recreation Board, Ford Foundation, International Game Technology, National Endowment for the Arts, Nevada Commission on Tourism, Nevada Humanities, Nevada Arts Council, Newmont Mining, Reno Rodeo Charitable Foundation, Wrangler, the Wallace Foundation and many more.

The mission of the Western Folklife Center is to enhance the vitality of American life through the experience, understanding, and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the American West.