The old western trope of "meanwhile, back at the ranch" will soon be changed to "meanwhile, back at Yavapai College" for the 28th Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, Thursday through Saturday, August 6-8. Celebrating a style of poetry that's been around since after the Civil War, this year's featured night show entertainers are Don Edwards, Belinda Gail and Trinity Seely.
In a release, Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering Committee Member Sally Bates said the annual event was thought of in 1987, with the first gathering that following year.
"The 'Sheraton Inn and Resort Center' in Prescott offered their facility as the first location, and in the fall of 1988, three meeting rooms housed 27 invited poets as they used a round-robin format of poetry and music to entertain a small crowd of people," Bates wrote. "The night show was held in the 'grand ballroom' of the Sheraton, and a full house crowd assured interest and support of a Gathering of cowboy poets in Prescott."
Lori Richey, another board member, said that not much changes from year to year except the names of featured entertainers. According to the release from Bates, Prescott's Gathering adheres to strict requirements for its presenters to perpetuate and preserve the heritage, culture and traditions of the working cowboy and his family, to educate the public about the men and women who continue to live the life of the working cowboy through songs, stories and poetry. These requirements include having worked on or been raised in the livestock industry as well as writing poetry and music that reveals understanding of the working cowboy.
This year more than a few poets, storytellers and singers are invited from Arizona and other states, including Slim McWilliams, Tom Sharpe, Doris Daley, Mike Dunn, Bail Steiger, Ashley Westcott, Suzi Killman, the Rusty Pistols Band, Bar 4 Outfit, and the Arizona Fiddlers. The featured night show entertainers for this year are Don Edwards on Thursday, Belinda Gail on Friday and Trinity Seeley on Saturday.
"All of these entertainers are truly cowboys who have lived or are living the life,' Richey said, noting that of their performances, "some are funny, some are sad."
And whether performances are funny or sad, Richey said some people attend every year to listen to these poetry and songs, adding that many follow particular performers.
Others come for the first time and Richey remembers being among that group of people. She said those coming for the first time will fall in love with it just as she did.
The poets will gather at Yavapai College Performing Arts Center and the featured night performers will take the stage at 7 p.m. for their respective nights. For a schedule of other poets,' storytellers' and singers' performances, visit www.azcowboypoets.org.
Tickets for the night performances range from $20 to $55 and can be purchased online at www.ycpac.com or at azcowboypoets.org.
Follow Reporter Jason Wheeler on Twitter @PrescottWheels. Reach him at 445-3333 ext. 2037 or at 928-642-5277.