The life of a cowboy is surely never short of muses to conjure up stanzas. Whether their poems be flavored as winsome or worrisome, somber or slapstick, cowboy poets put the wax on the mustache of verse.
There’s no better place to hear it than at the Heber Valley Music & Cowboy Poetry Gathering, now celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Every fall, gussied up with their best 10-gallon hats and bolo ties, cowboy poets from around the Mountain West, and beyond, stampede into this little two-horse town. And it’s a spectacle to behold—filled with performances, concerts, and Western entertainment.
For some, ropin’ and rhymin’ is just in the blood. Dozens of poets tell their tales at this three-day celebration of the art and craft of cowboy poetry. They are joined by country balladeers and purveyors of cowboy wares of all makes and models. There’s even a Buckaroo fair, mountain man traders camp, dances, and horse events.
Regular performers over the years have included Waddie Mitchell and Baxter Black, two of the most recognized cowboy poets in the world, the Bar J Wranglers, Michael Martin Murphey, Don Edwards, and many more.
More than entertainment, it’s an authentic and intimate look at a lifestyle that is dwindling like a slow burning fire in a sage field. These cowboy poets are preservers of a nearly by-gone past-time, and it’s worth every minute hearing their tales.
The festival’s mission is to:
“To preserve the cowboy way of life by holding an annual cowboy poetry gathering and giving back to the community along the way. “
The Heber Valley Music & Cowboy Poetry Gathering is one of the most prominent festival of its kind in the country. Learn more about the festival here.
Photographer’s Note: Last year, I took portraits of Jeff Carson and Paul Bliss and included some of their poetry in a 13% SALT post that you can read here.
Photographer and award-winning journalist Austen Diamond specializes in creative portraiture, commercial photography and editorial photojournalism. For booking inquiries and to view his portfolio, go to www.AustenDiamond.com.