It's Not a Festival. It's the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering
For the past 29 years, cowboy poets have gathered in Alpine on the campus of Sul Ross State University. It’s called the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering and it kicks off today.
Doris Daley has been coming to this event in Alpine for 13 years. It’s smaller, and she thinks homier, than similar events across the country.
And it’s not a festival – as organizers will tell you - it’s a gathering. One of them, Bill Brooks, says it’s really about the performers doing their thing. The audience just happens to be there.
Brooks is the M.C. for the kickoff event on Friday, which is held in the somewhat sterile environment of a school auditorium.
Performers are here from a dozen U.S. states and Canada. Audience members attend break-out sessions in classrooms to learn more about cowboy poetry and western music.
But outside of the classrooms, It’s what you picture. Cowboy hats and handlebar mustaches. And every morning begins with coffee, eggs and biscuits served from a chuckwagon. Women in bandanas carrying colorful guitars, like Eli Barsi, whose been performing here for the past 4 years.
There are other gatherings. The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, is the granddaddy of them all. It’s been around for more than 30 years. Founder Hal Cannon remembers its launch.
Academics and cowboys may make strange bedfellows, but it worked.
Three years ago, Hal Cannon was the keynote speaker in Alpine. And in some ways, the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering remains just that - an insiders’ deal.