Monday, February 13, 2012

The Road to Elko Day 3 ~ Saddle Up!

There are still patches of snow and ice on the ground so you need to watch your step (temperatures range from 9-35 degrees during our stay). I perfect the "flat foot shuffle" to avoid a cartoon pratfall. None of us bounce like we used to and at 66 (say what?) one needs to be conscious of such things. It ain't pretty but it's effective.

Where to start? Oh, how about a small intimate breakfast for 15-20 at Stockman's. It used to be called the "Ladie's Breakfast" but this year it was changed to the "People's Breakfast" ~ menfolk allowed. We took over an entire corner of the restaurant and sort of rotated between bites to catch up with friends we haven't seen since the last Gathering and to meet the newcomers.

Ken, Leland, Trisha, Linda and Betty
The Idaho Contingent
First event of the day is the Keynote Address at the Convention Center by actor Barry Corbin - you may remember him from Lonesome Dove, Conagher, or Northern Exposure.

As Roscoe Brown in Lonesome Dove

His feet are in both worlds, that of a cowboy and that of the mythological cowboy on screen. As a consummate character actor he strives for authenticity in his roles. He regaled the audience with behind scene stories like learning how to drive a six horse stagecoach team just prior to filming a shot.

Our next two events are also at the Convention Center so we decide to grab a bite to eat. So much for the vegetarian, low fat, small portioned California cuisine we're used to. Rod and I split a BBQ beef sandwich on a french roll that has enough meat on it for another meal. Oh well, when in Rome....

Many of the shows and workshops at the Gathering are free and well worth squeezing into the day. These poets do what they love and perform to keep their love of history and the west alive. Check out their websites to find out more.

Rib Ticklers: the lighter side of ranch life
  • Yvonne Hollenbeck is a South Dakota cattle rancher's wife, cowgirl poet and quilter ~
  • RP Smith is a 4th generation cattle rancher from Nebraska who hosts his own radio show "Home Grown" from his ranch.
  • Jay Snider rodeoed in his younger years and now raises horses and cattle in Cyril, OK. He's the 2008 Academy of Western Artists top male poet.
Western Tails (or Tales as it turns out):
  • DW Groethe is an award winning poet, picker and cowboy who writes what he lives and breathes. 
  • Amy Hale Auker is a talented poet and writer from Arizona. Her book Rightful Place is rooted in "ranching, family, and a lifestyle hidden at the end of dirt roads".
  • Paul Zarzyski is a former bronc rider and award winning poet from Montana, the self proclaimed "One-n-Only-Polish-Mafioso-Rodeo-Poet". I've seen him a number of times and always look forward to the next.

News Flash: Paul will be performing here in Sonoma County at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts on February 24th as part of a program of songs, music and poetry of the American West called Don't Fence Me In with Wylie and the Wild West, North Bear, The Quebe Sisters Band, and Los Texmaniacs. Don't miss it!

Afternoon Fare: We recover from lunch, take a little walk and come back for the Western Folklife Center Members Show #1 with Jay Snider, Randy Reiman and the Gillette Brothers.
  • Randy Rieman is a master horseman, poet and reciter living in Dillon, Montana. His voice will hook you at first word and you find yourself traveling down a trail in the footsteps of his story.
  • The Gillette Brothers are singers, guitar and banjo pickers from Crockett, TX who won Best Traditional Western Album of 2010 for their CD "Cowboys, Minstrels and Medicine Shows"

Early evening a bunch of us gather at a the Star restaurant for dinner. As is tradition in a Basque restaurant large bowls of soup, salad, bread and then a myriad of side dishes from green beans to french fries are brought to the table for everyone to share. You can order "dinner" too, but from experience we knew the first round would be more than enough.

Sated and exhausted from a day full of entertainment and making new friends we call it a night and return to the Gold Country Inn. We head over to the little casino in the lobby and play for a bit. The Ernie Sites band is in the bar each night and has the place hooting and hollering. We're rocking on our stools and singing along with everyone else. Friday will come soon so we flat foot it back across the driveway and turn in about 11pm. There is little down time at the Gathering so you have to get some shut eye when you can.

If you go to the Western Folklife Center website you'll be able to enjoy cybercasts of main events. For February 2nd the Keynote, Members Show #1 and Wordsmiths are available at