Cowboy poets and singers gather in Medora on Memorial Day weekend

The 36th annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering is set for Memorial Day weekend at the Medora Community Center.

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The annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering will take center stage Memorial Day weekend, Saturday May 28 and Sunday May 29, at the Medora Community Center.
Dickinson Press file photo

MEDORA, N.D. — Long before the ranches and homesteads dotted the valleys, buttes, prairies and badlands of North Dakota, and before the wires that fenced the west ended it, cowboys would drive herds of cattle and horses all the way from Matamoros, Mexico, to open-ranges of the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana.

For nearly one-third of a year, groups of valiant, tough and sometimes ornery cowboys would spend their days atop a saddle, riding into unknown territory for the promise of an adventure and a leg up in a new world. The more than 2,000-mile trek paved the way for today’s ranchers and cattlemen.

The path they carved through it all would become known as the Great Western Cattle Trail, and on that trail Cowboys would share stories and sing songs aimed at entertaining and lifting spirits. Cowboy poetry, as it would become known as, remains an active part of western folklore and modern life.

The 36th annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering is set for Memorial Day weekend, Saturday May 28 and Sunday May 29, at the Medora Community Center.

The special event will launch the annual festivity from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Saturday morning with presentations by Pegie Douglas and Kim Bachman of work from South Dakota’s first poet laureate, Badger Clark.


Following the presentations the stage will be opened to any area poets and cowboys to wax eloquently or sing their range songs to a gathered audience from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Saturday night show is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., and will lead off with Nebraska poet Marci Broyhill, followed by Vernon Prestegord of Twin Valley, Minnesota with cowboy singing.

Veteran and well traveled cowboy poet Jim Hamilton, a rancher from Decker, Montana, will share a lifetime of cowboy events, while Great Falls, Montana’s Kurt Rockeman will anchor the show singing many of the great old cowboy classics that originated the tradition.

Sentinel Butte, North Dakota rancher, cowboy poet Bill Lowman will handle the emcee chores.

The always popular cowboy gospel event will commence at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, followed again by an open mic session from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m.

The evening performance on Sunday will be emceed by well-known cowgirl songwriter and singer Connie Gjermundson, of Taylor, North Dakota. The evening show will consist of performances by cowboy poet Ron Hansen of New Town, North Dakota, followed by cowboy singer Richard Mosch of Erhard, Minnesota. Duane Nelson, of Tygh Valley, Oregon, will share his cowboy poetry with attendees.

The final performance will be anchored by nationally known singer Tom Brosseau from Grand Forks, North Dakota.

The Western Art Show will run both days of the event and be featured prominently in the Roosevelt Room of the Medora Community Center. For more information about the event, please call Bill Lowman at 701-872-4746.

James B. Miller, Jr. is the Editor of The Dickinson Press in Dickinson, North Dakota. He strives to bring community-driven, professional and hyper-local focused news coverage of southwest North Dakota.
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