Events: December

Find links to all months here.



•  December 5-14, 2019
National Finals Rodeo (NFR) Cowboy Christmas Las Vegas, Nevada

•  December 6-7, 2019
31st Annual Cowboy Christmas Poetry Gathering  Wickenburg, Arizona

•  December 6-8, 2019
Christmas at Fort Concho  San Angelo, Texas

•  December 6-8, 2019
Old Fashioned Cowboy Christmas Medora, North Dakota

•  December 14,  2019
10th annual Black Hills Cowboy Christmas Lead, South Dakota

•  December 14,  2019
Curly’s Cowboy Christmas Victorville, California

•  December 19-21, 2019
83rd Larry Chittenden Cowboy Celebration Anson, Texas
See our feature on Larry Chittenden and his famous poem here

•  December 22, 2019
Michael Martin Murphey’s 25th Annual Cowboy Christmas Ball at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

•  December 26-31, 2019
The 72nd Annual Arizona National Stock Show Phoenix, Arizona

• • • • •

•  Events not yet received for 2019
New Tradition Christmas Concert with a Cowboy Twist Pierre, South Dakota

Western Music Association Awards 2016



2016 WMA Awards of Excellence

2016 Instrumentalist of the Year
Jeanne Cahill

2016 Male Performer of the Year
Dave Stamey

2016 Female Performer of the Year
Mikki Daniel

2016 Duo or Group of the Year

2016 Entertainer of the Year
Kristyn Harris

2016 Crescendo Award
Jeneve Rose Mitchell

2016 Radio DJ/Radio Program of the Year
Judy James – Cowboy Jubilee & Western Heritage Radio – Weatherford, TX

2016 Male Poet of the Year
Floyd Beard

2016 Female Poet of the Year
Susie Knight

2016 Cowboy Poetry CD of the Year
Fillin’ Tanks – Susie Knight

2016 Cowboy Poetry Book of the Year
Is She Country? – Marlene Bussma

2016 Western Album of the Year
Western Stories – Dave Stamey

2016 Cowboy Swing Album of the Year
Trail Jazz – Cowboy Joe Babcock

2016 Song of the Year
Land Where Cedars Grow – Written by Dave Stamey

2016 Harmony Contest
Youth Division: Olivia Morgayne & Leah Sawyer
Open Division: Miss Devon & The Outlaw
Marilyn Tuttle Best of the West: The Hanson Family

2016 Yodeling Contest
Male Division: Marty Kosel
Female Division: Lori Brooke

2016 Poetry Contest
Duane Nelson
Trey Pearson

2016 Georgie Sicking Award
Jessica Hedges

2016 Curly Musgrave Cowboy Spirit Award
Ray Rutherford

2016 Bill Wiley Award
Doug & Betty Carter

2016 Hall of Fame Inductees
Pat Brady
Dave Stamey

Events: November

Find links to all months here.


•  November 1-2, 2019
Western Slope Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering Grand Junction, Colorado

•  November 1-2, 2019
54th annual Cowboy Artists of America Sale and Exhibition  Fort Worth, Texas

• November 1-2, 2019
Bob Wills Fiddle Festival & Contest Greenville, Texas

• November 1-3, 2019
17th Annual Moab Folk Festival Moab, Utah

• November 3, 2019
31st Annual Storyfest George West, Texas

• November 6-10, 2019
24th annual World Championship Ranch Rodeo Amarillo, Texas

• • •

• November 7-10, 2019
24th Annual Cowpoke Fall Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering Loomis, California


Visit our Sponsor supporters:  Cowboy Fall Gathering

• • •

• November 8-9, 2019
Texas Hill Country Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Fredricksburg, Texas

• November 8-10, 2019
Wayne Nelson Memorial Cowboy Gathering (22nd annual Diamond Field Jack Cowboy Poetry Gathering) Rupert, Idaho

• • •

• November 13-17, 2019
30th Annual Western Music Association Festival Albuquerque, New Mexico


Visit our Sponsor supporters: The Western Way and the Western Music Association

• • •

• November 23,  2019
Cariboo Country Christmas Trade Show Williams Lake, British Columbia

• • • • • •

• Dates not yet received for 2019
Comstock Cowboy Poet Gathering  Comstock, Nebraska

• No event in 2019
Chisholm Trail Cowboy Poetry Gathering Duncan, Oklahoma

ONE LAST BRANDING by Jessica Hedges


by Jessica Hedges

From the hackamore to the two rein, from the two rein to the bridle
Steeping in Spanish tradition, he is every cow pony’s idol

Year after year he has made the push to this old cedar round corral
Held sliding reata dallies, watching rise and fall of crew’s morale

He has been rim fired, wrapped up, burned, had ropes between his legs like snakes
With each rawhide loop that shakes out, he proves what he can mentally take

Experience has taught him to pin his ears and shift his weight just so
For he has found victory in positioning for the perfect throw

Jerking slack from a head loop that settles right is only just the start
It takes patience to build up quiet, pulling to fire shows heart

Avoiding the trap’s dangers, trotting straight to set up the double hock
Taking slack out for the heeler, loop coming tight right at the calf’s sock

Facing up, holding strong, while rider slides coil helping the ground crew
Ropes get set, build up short, hold tight until the bull to steer change is through

With a nod from the ground crew and the heeler, dallies are popped off clean
Grateful for the day, grateful for the anything but basic routine

He first gathered to here at two, watching the branding chaos unfold
He smelled the scorch of burning hide, watched the wrecks, heard bridle crickets rolled

In his third year he came to the fire on the heels, guide horse beside him
That smoke was a lot scarier then as it floated up under limb

With time and patience, he was brought through jaquima to freno traditions
Perfected by the Moors, the Spaniards, and the vaqueros of the missions

Each hackamore and bridle has brought with it a new expectation
A level of finesse understood across boundaries of nation

His eleven year teeth long gone, semi-retired status at best
No more circles, branding pens and sorting alleys by boss’s request

The go to for youngsters and elders, guide horse for an upcoming colt
They question if he’ll make another winter while I secretly revolt

Through his stiff, slackened moves I still see the cow horse he was in his prime
I’m just asking for one more branding, just one more before his due time

© Jessica Hedges, used with permission

Cowboy, mother, ranch wife, and more, Jessica Hedges and her poem took home the Georgie Sicking Award (which included custom spurs by Tommy Thompson) at last weekend’s Western Music Association (WMA) convention.


The Georgie Sicking Award, offered by the Western Wordsmiths chapter of the WMA, “…is presented to the author of a single poem that honors a working ranch cowboy’s lifestyle and celebrates our Western heritage.”

Watch a video from Jessica Hedges in which she talks about the award and recites the poem.

The award is named in honor of beloved cowboy and poet Georgie Sicking (1921-2016). Read more about her and find links to her poetry  here on this blog.

Jessica Hedges is also an entrepreneur and event organizer, and she performs across the West. This Friday she’ll be at the Temptations Cowboy Concert Series in Lovelock, Nevada, and in coming weeks she’ll be emceeing other shows there featuring Mary Kaye, Brenn Hill, and Andy Nelson.

Find more about Jessica Hedges, including her poetry CDs and schedule, at,  at her site,; and on Facebook.

Jessica Hedges also shared this photograph.


“PURT NEAR!” by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)



by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

They called him “Purt Near Perkins,”
for unless the booger lied,
He’d purt near done most everything
that he had ever tried.
He’d purt near been a preacher
and he’d purt near roped a bear;
He’d met up with Comanches once
and purt near lost his hair.
He’d purt near wed an heiress
who had money by the keg,
He’d purt near had the measles,
and he’d purt near broke his leg.

He’d purt near been a trail boss,
and accordin’ to his claim,
He’d purt near shot Bill Hickock—
which had purt near won him fame!
He’d purt near rode some broncs
upon which no one else had stuck
In fact he was the feller
Who had purt near drowned the duck!

Now mostly all the cowboys
On the Lazy S B spread,
They took his talkin’ with a grin
And let him fight his head.
But one named Tom Maginnis
Sorter told it to him rough:
“You’re ridin’ with an outfit now
Where ‘purt near’ ain’t enough!
We tie our lasso ropes to the horn,
An’ what we ketch we hold,
And ‘purt near’ is one alibi
We never do unfold!
In fact, right now
I’ll tell you that no word I ever hear
Sounds quite so plain damn useless
As that little pair: ‘purt near’!”

That’s how ol’ Tom Maginnis
Laid it out upon the line,
And like a heap of preachin’ talk,
It sounded mighty fine.
But one day Tom Maginnis,
While a-ridin’ off alone,
He lamed his horse
And had to ketch some neighbor nester’s roan
To ride back to the ranch on.
But somewhere along the way
A bunch of nesters held him up,
And there was hell to pay!

Tom claimed he hadn’t stole the horse—
Just borrowed it to ride.
Them nesters hated cowboys,
And they told him that he lied.
The cussed him for a horsethief
And they’d caught him with the goods.
They set right out to hang him
In a nearby patch of woods.
They had pore Tom surrounded,
With their guns all fixed to shoot.
It looked like this pore cowboy
Sure had heard his last owl hoot!

They tied a rope around his neck
And throwed it o’er a limb
And Tom Maginnis purt near knowed
This was the last of him.
Then suddenly a shot rang out
From somewhere up the hill!
Them nesters dropped the rope an’ ran,
Like nesters sometimes will
When bullets start to whizzin’.
Tom’s heart lept up with hope
To see ol’ Purt Near Perkins
Ridin’ towards him at a lope.

“Looks like I purt near
Got here just in time,” ol’ Perkins said,
“To see them nesters hang you!”
Tom’s face got kinder red.
“You purt near did!” he purt near grinned.
“They purt near had me strung!
You’re lookin’ at a cowboy
That has purt near just been hung!
And also one that’s changed his mind—
For no word ever said,
Can sound as sweet as ‘purt near’,
When a man’s been purt near dead!”

© S. Omar Barker, from his 1954 book, Songs of the Saddlemen, and reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker

Watch top reciter and respected horseman Randy Rieman recite the poem on the Western Folklife Center’s YouTube channel.

New Mexico’s S. Omar Barker gave many humorous poems to the world of cowboy poetry. A good number of them, including this one, remain widely recited today. He inserted a bit of himself in this poem in referring to the “Lazy S B spread.” He enjoyed signing his name with his brand, “Lazy SOB.”

Barker was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman. Find more about S. Omar Barker at

This image is from an old trade card for Wiedemann Beer. In the late 1800s, it became Kentucky’s largest brewery.

The picture is from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about it here.


INSIDE WAR by Joel Nelson


photo © 2016, Ken Rodgers


by Joel Nelson

We read stories of Wars
Hist’ries written on pages
And records of battle
Drawn on walls of the cave
Read of Glory and Honor
And Right through the ages
And all those who fell
‘Neath the crest of the knave

The themes are eternal
Of wars on the ocean
Of axes and swords
On the Otterburn Plain
The ninety gun Frigates
The horsemen in motion
The bleeding has stopped
But the stories remain

There are terms of Armistice
And flags of surrender
This war fought for freedom
That war saved a race
Twixt savages cruel
Or soldiers yet tender
The scholars record them
And each has its place

Some go unrecorded
Wars fought self-contained
Conflicts never ending
No respite or truce
For the foe lives within
Lashing out unrestrained
And the warrior wears thin
From the battles’ abuse

The shelling subsides
Then intensity quickens
With most unaware
Of the state of the war
Leaving soldier and loved ones
With Conflict that thickens
Outsiders observing
The scene from afar

There is only so long
Any warrior can battle
‘Til he must succumb
To the enemy inside
So loosening the reins
Stepping down from the saddle
Heaving sigh of relief
He will cease his long ride

His allies left standing
Gather somewhat uncertain
Refraining from judgment
United by love
Acknowledging peacetime
And drawing the curtain
Leaving all in the hands
Of the Maker above

© 2008, Joel Nelson

On this Veterans Day and Remembrance Day, we’re honored to share the words of Texas rancher and horseman Joel Nelson. He served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division. A National Endowment of the Arts Heritage Fellow, Joel Nelson is respected for his writing and his reciting.

You can find Joel Nelson next weekend at the 18th annual Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival, November 18-20, 2016 in Monterey, California. The event has a great outreach with local schools and libraries, and includes a great a Western art and gear show.

There, Joel Nelson joins a stellar lineup of Dave Stamey, Mike Beck, Don Edwards, Randy Rieman, Peter Rowen, Skip Gorman and the Waddie Pals, Connie Dover with Tom Sauber, Juni Fisher, Janet Bailey, Rich O’Brien, Rex Allen, Jr., The Hanson Family, R.W. Hampton, Bruce Forman & COW BOP, Karen Ross, Jim Ross, Ross Knox, Hot Club of Cowtown, and Whit Smith.

Find more about the Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival at and on Facebook.

Find more about Joel Nelson at

This photograph, by Idaho filmmaker, writer, teacher, and photograph Ken Rodgers, was taken last month at the San Antonio Veterans Memorial Plaza and Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Ken and Betty Rodgers are the creators of the award-winning film, Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor, about the men of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines during the 1968 siege at Khe Sanh in Vietnam, with whom Ken served. Find more about it  on Facebook and at, where there is an engaging blog.

Their latest project, a work in progress, I Married the War, tells the stories of the lives of combat veteran spouses, from WWII through today. Find more about it at and on Facebook.

Find poems and more for Veterans Day at

START OF A COLD MORNIN’ by Deanna Dickinson McCall


painting by JaNeil Anderson

by Deanna Dickinson McCall

When posts are glazed like a cake
And the wire is taut with ice
The troughs need busting
The mornin’s ain’t so nice.

The red roan resembles a camel
His back has such a hump
You’d better cheek him up
He’ll likely buck and jump.

The saddle is sitting high
Good inch above his back
He’s sucked all up
Under blanket and kack.

On mornings like these
It’s a chance you take
Sliding into the stirrup
No room for mistake.

You wish you were 20 again
When you make that swing
But, you’ll do it because
That’s what cold morning’s bring.

© 2016, Deanna Dickinson McCall, used with permission

Award-winning poet, writer, and fourth-generation New Mexico rancher Deanna Dickinson McCall and noted painter and rancher JaNeil Anderson collaborated, pairing poems and paintings, in an attractive and engaging book, Split Reins.


In the foreword, respected singer, songwriter, and rancher Randy Huston comments that the book, “…is a wonderful look into real life in the rural West, a contemporary landscape still flavored by the frontier era, and a place in which many values and traditions haven’t changed in more than a hundred years. The hardships, triumphs, and daily routines of this unique world come to life in this collection.”

He explains that “split reins” are associated with the working traditions of Southwest cowboys; “two independent reins that must be used in concert to signal a horse.” He concludes, “As the saying goes, the sum is greater than the parts.”

Deanna has two highly praised books of stories, Rough Patches, which just won a Will Rogers Medallion Award, and Mustang Spring, which also includes poems. She also has an award-winning CD of her poetry, Riding. She’s a popular performer at gatherings, often appearing at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and other events.

Find more about Deanna Dickinson McCall at; at her web site,; and on Facebook.

JaNeil Anderson studied under Cowboy Artists of America painters James Reynolds and R.S. Riddick. She and her husband live on their family’s third-generation ranch along the banks of the Gila River in southwest New Mexico. She is represented by Thunder Horse Gallery in Riudoso.

Find more about JaNeil Anderson at her web site,, and on Facebook.