Baxter Black famously, and poetically, said: “Cowboys aren’t a vanishing breed, you just can’t see ’em from the road!” So it make sense that True West kicks off its tribute to real-life, modern-day cow combatants who entertain the heck out of all of us with this venerable cowboy, poet and humorist who lives “between the horse and the cow,” as he puts it, in Benson, Arizona.
When we asked Baxter what fans can expect from him this year, he told us: “I speak to cattlemen, rodeo hands, lab techs, corn growers, horse people, Farm Bureau, veterinary meetings, county fairs and the occasional National Public Radio urban groups. I have a mountain of stories and poems, and so I pick the ones that I think will appeal to each group and put them together like a string of pearls.” So when you’re out there, fans, know that Baxter is truly speaking to you—he’s not just going through a set list.
Even so, quite a few of Baxter’s stories appeal to all audiences: “The Vegetarian’s Nightmare,” “The Cow Attack” and “The Dog and the Rabbit” are sure to make the rounds this year. Baxter’s latest pearl is “Tissue on the Range.” “I owe the last one to Sheryl Crow for inspiration,” he admits to us.
Among the last, biggest Western entertainment shows out there is the Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival in California on December 10-12. You’ll want to make sure to attend the concerts of Wylie & the Wild West, an act Baxter says has “changed the water level in the ‘cowboy entertainment aquarium.’”
Joining Wylie Gustafson and crew, other top cowboy wordsmiths will be doling out rhymes and tunes at these popular gatherings.
Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering
August 12-15, 2010 • Lewistown, MT
866-912-3980 • MontanaCowboyPoetryGathering.com
The Next Act: Plan a picnic and go for a summer swim in the 68-degree fahrenheit Gigantic Warm Springs, located 14 miles north of town at the foothills of the North Moccasin Mountains. Rancher David Vanek, who owns the hot springs, charges a nominal admission fee during the June to September season.
Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering
August 13-14, 2010 • Prescott, AZ
928-776-2000 • AZCowboyPoets.org
The Next Act: Located at downtown’s Whiskey Row, the Galloping Goose Gallery offers Navajo and Hopi jewelry, as well as Western art by Howard Terpning and Bill Anton. The gallery is named after a Buick Railmotor that chugged down Colorado’s mining rail lines in the 1930s.
National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo
September 16-18, 2010 • Montrose, CO
435-899-1100 • CowboyPoetry.com
The Next Act: Head to El Jimador restaurant in Montrose for a tasty bowl of chile verde. Wash it down with a margarita of your choice—they make more than 60 varieties. “El Jimador” is the name given to farmers who cultivate blue agave—the main ingredient in tequila.
Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering
Sept. 24-25, 2010 • Hot Springs, SD
800-325-6991 • HotSprings-SD.com
The Next Act: You must have a bowl of buffalo chili at the Blue Bison café. You can’t miss the sandbrick building, with the shellacked blue buffalo on the roof.
Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering
September 30-October 3, 2010
Durango, CO • 970-749-2995
The Next Act: Starting in October, you can take an American Indian-guided tour of the Ute Mountain Tribal Park, six times larger than Mesa Verde and filled with virtually untouched archaeological Ute sites.
Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering
September 30-October 3, 2010
Valentine, NE • 800-658-4024
The Next Act: Plains Trading Co. Booksellers offers out-of-print, Western and cowboy titles, and books by Nebraska authors and the Sandhills region. Yet what most don’t know is you can grab some cowboy grub for the trail here; the bookstore’s “Sandhills Crates” package up cowboy beans to fry bread mix, and are topped with a bouquet of sand bluestem grass.
Heber City Cowboy Poetry Gathering & Buckaroo Festival
November 1-7, 2010
Midway, UT • 435-654-3666
The Next Act: Try more than 20 different varieties of salsas at the Tarahumara Mexican restaurant’s salsa bar. Quite a few locals have raved that the cheese and onion enchilada is the best enchilada they’ve eaten in their lives.
Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival
December 10-12, 2010 • Monterey, CA
800-722-9652 • MontereyCowboy.org
The Next Act: Order the Baja Laughing Bird Shrimp at Lalla Grill; the name may be silly, but the flavors are dead serious. Grilled shrimp on three tacos with cilantro, cabbage, onions, queso fresco and chipotle mayo. Wash it down with the house specialty, white peach mojito.
2011 Cowboy Poetry & Music Festivals
National Cowboy Poetry Gathering
January 22-29, 2011 • Elko, NV
775-738-7508 • WesternFolklife.org
Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering
January TBA, 2011 • Arvada, CO
720-898-7200 • ArvadaCenter.org
Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering
February 11-13, 2011 • Sierra Vista, AZ
520-266-0558 • CowboyPoets.com
Moab’s Western Stars Cowboy Poetry Gathering
February 18-20, 2011 • Moab, UT
435-259-6272 • MoabWesternStars.com
Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering
February 25-27, 2011 • Alpine, TX
800-361-3735 • Cowboy-Poetry.org
Genoa Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival
April TBA, 2011 • Genoa, NV
775-782-8207 • GenoaCowboyFestival.com
Cowboy Legends Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival
May TBA, 2011 • Antelope Island, UT
Echoes of the Trail Cowboy Poetry & Music
June 10-12, 2011 • Fort Scott, KS
620-223-0736 • EchoesOfTheTrail.com
White Mountains Roundup
July TBA, 2011 • Show Low, AZ
866-532-4070 • WhiteMountainsRoundup.com