Poets to gather in Prescott, celebrate culture of the American cowboy
More than 40 cowboy poets and musicians are moseying into Prescott next week to share their talents as well as their heritage and the culture of the American cowboy.
The 32nd annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, held at Yavapai College, is looking pretty good this year, said Joe Konkel, board member and past president. Featured this year are Trinity Seely (Thursday, Aug. 8), Chris Isaacs (Friday, Aug. 9) and The Cowboy Way (Saturday, Aug. 10), a group that consists of Jim Jones, Doug Figgs and Mariam Funke. Coming to the event is a lot of fun, Figgs said.
“I’ve met so many great people at these gatherings,” he said. “It’s like a family reunion, coming back and seeing all these people that are poets and musicians and stuff.”
Figgs also said he still has a lot of family that lives around Prescott. It’s always fun to see them, and it makes coming to the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering extra special, he said.
What’s gratifying about the event is that it’s cultural, with the objective to give audiences a window into the world of the working cowboy, Konkel said. The goal, he said, is to promote western heritage through music, poetry and art.
“The term ‘cowboy’ has a lot of different connotations these days, and we define it really as the cowboy is a professional in the field of agriculture and his contributions to society is that he puts food on our tables and he usually does that on horseback and with cattle,” Konkel said. “What we try to do is we try to present that image.”
Most of the performers at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering have some background and have worked, or are currently working, in the world of the rancher and cowboy, he said.
Being a cowboy comes pretty natural because it’s the kind of life he wants to do, Figgs said. As for the singing, he’s always been into music, and western music comes naturally to him as well, he said.
“I tried to do a lot of other types of music, but it suits me better,” Figgs said.
The free daytime sessions from noon to 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9 and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10 allow people to meet and learn from many of the visiting poets and musicians. A full schedule is available at www.azcowboypoets.org. The featured performances begin at 7 p.m. and tickets start at $20, available at www.ycpac.com or at the door.
Duke Vance will also be awarded the Gail I. Gardner Award for Cowboy Poetry Thursday night.
New at this year’s Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering is an art exhibit in the Yavapai College Art Gallery. Joe Netherwood, Bill Nebeker, Steve Atkinson, Shawn Cameron and Marless Fellows will be displaying their work.
“It’s been suggested over the years,” Konkel said.
Every year, an artist has been featured on the event’s poster, and it has been represented by some good western artists each year, he said. The gallery was available for use this year and the board thought it would be a nice element to the Gathering, Konkel said.
Additionally, for many years, a local ranch and its family history have been featured at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, he said. This year, it will be the Rafter Eleven ranch and the Fain family, Konkel said. Prescott Valley now sits on that ranch, he said.
“They’re still actively ranching that ranch land there and they themselves are going to tell their story,” Konkel said. “They date back to 1874 in Arizona and that ranching operation was one of the largest ranches in the state of Arizona.”
There is a lot of history in their ranching as well as their history and involvement in Arizona politics and community affairs, he said. Almost everyone who lives in the Prescott area or has come to the Prescott area has in some way, been affected by the work the Fain family has done in the area, Konkel said.
The session dedicated to the Fain family’s ranching history is at 1 p.m. in Building Three, Room 119.
Other special events include Coffee with the Cowboys in the Art Ranch Amphitheatre at 8 a.m. Saturday morning and Student Poetry Winners in the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center at 9 a.m. Saturday morning.
Yavapai College is located at 1100 E. Sheldon St.
For more information about the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, visit www.azcowboypoets.org.