National Cowboy Poetry Gathering focuses on future of rural West

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National Cowboy Poetry Gathering focuses on future of rural West

Cowboy_poetry_gathering_belt_buckle

This year's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering includes an art exhibit called Expressing the Rural West--Into the Future! It includes a collection of western artistry from young gear makers, including this belt buckle by Braidie Butters.

The thirtieth annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering kicked off Monday in Elko with a focus on the rural West and its future.

Organizers expect up to 7,000 attendees for this year's gathering, which will include live music, films, workshops, and, of course, poetry.

Darcy Minter is with the Western Folklife Center, which hosts the event. She says the gathering is a time for ranchers from isolated areas to share ideas and advice on common challenges, like keeping young people on the ranch and turning a profit.

"They're finding new ways to make money," Minter explains, "with different kinds of cattle, grass-fed beef, organic farming, guest ranches, and doing things differently in terms of how they're managing their land so it produces more grass and is healthier."

Other young ranchers are diversifying their work.

"So they may be running a ranch, but they're also working in other professionals at the same time," Minter says. "And a lot of the digital connectivity that they have now in these really remote places allows them to do other jobs from home, so they can pay the bills."

Ranchers aren't the only people who come out for the event. Minter says about forty percent of attendees are city slickers looking to get their hands dirty with workshops on rawhide braiding, hat making, and Dutch oven cooking.