Elko's Cowboy Poetry Gathering In Full Swing

Jan 29, 2016

Cowboys and cowgirls have convened in Elko for the 32nd annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering, celebrating the oral traditions of the Old West. Reporter Julia Ritchey is there and has more.

From spontaneous jam sessions to spoken-word performances, the event draws nearly 6,000 people and has become a major boon to the local economy.

“These next three days are the busiest days all year for us,” says Jessie Deleon, a bartender at the Duncan Middle Creek Bar & Gallery in downtown Elko.

It’s not all music, poetry and commerce, though. With the topic of federal lands a hot-button issue, this year’s festival features a number of panels on conservation and management of private and public lands.

Darcy Minter is a spokeswoman for the Western Folklife Center, which organizes the festival.

“People are able to discuss issues that can be very difficult," she says, "but because the energy is really positive, it allows people, I think, to be more civil and have discourse.”

Minter says their goal is to promote ranching culture and encourage open dialogue on issues that affect communities across the West.