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During the 33rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, it was easy to take full advantage of all the Gathering had to offer by coming early in the week - Sunday, January 29 - Wednesday, Febuary 1, 2017.  Those who did had more time and space to visit with friends, chat with the artists in the Pioneer Saloon, experience great storytelling, poetry and music, or take a hands-on workshop in Western arts that was not available later in the week. And by participating in a workshop, a discount to an early week show was received!

Sunday, January 29

Rawhide Braiding with Doug Groves

Jan 29, 9:00am - 5:00pm
Jan 30, 9:00am - 5:00pm
Jan 31, 9:00am - 5:00pm
Feb 1,
9:00am - 5:00pm

Great Basin buckaroo and braider, Doug Groves, makes rawhide reatas, quirts, reins and bosals of great beauty and function. A 2009 recipient of the Nevada Governor’s Arts Award and 2017 recipient of the Nevada Heritage Award, Doug learned rawhide braiding from peers in the bunkhouse and beyond, and now passes on these techniques for turning rawhide into fine horse gear. Assisted by his son, Grant, and daughter, Katie, Doug will guide students in creating a beautiful 12-strand, 2-rein bosal. Students will also learn techniques for processing their own rawhide from hide harvest to finished string. This workshop is very interactive, with alumnae of the class sharing methods and experience in hide processing and braiding. An added bonus is the camaraderie and cooperative learning that takes place among braiders of different experience levels in this 4-day celebration of rawhide!

SPECIAL NOTE: Join us at 3:30pm on Thursday, February 2, as Doug Groves is presented with the Nevada Heritage Award in the G Three Bar Theater, during the Exhibition Opening Reception.

Monday, January 30

Carolyn Dufurrena, by Jessica Brandi Lifland

It’s Your Story: Share It with the World, a Digital Storytelling Workshop

Jan 30, 9:00am - 5:00pm
Jan 31, 9:00am - 5:00pm
Feb 1,
9:00am - 5:00pm

Learn the art of digital storytelling with poet, writer and filmmaker, Carolyn Dufurrena. Whether your story is about your great-grandmother’s pioneer trek across the country, the ranch where you grew up, or a project you’re hoping to undertake next spring—you’ll build a short film of your tale to share with friends, family and the world. Bring your own laptop if you have one, a box of old family photos or the diary you found in Nana’s trunk. We’ll help you blend them all into a tale for the next generation.

Horsehair Hitching with Toni Schutte

Jan 30 9:00am - 5:00pm
Jan 31, 9:00am - 5:00pm
Feb 1, 9:00am - 5:00pm

Toni Schutte has been a horsehair hitcher for many years, and was a part of a folk arts apprenticeship program of the Nevada Arts Council. Both beginners and more advanced hitchers will benefit from this workshop. Participants will learn the fundamentals of hitching horsehair and will complete their choice of a hitched bracelet or key fob. Hitching materials will be provided. Sponsored by Hitching Post Supply.

Tuesday, January 31

Veterans Writers Project

Jan 31, 9:00am - 4:00pm
Feb 1,
9:00am - 4:00pm
Free for Vets and their families / Drop in anytime and stay as long as you like. Spouses and family of veterans encouraged to participate.

Veterans Resource Center, McMullen Hall 114, Great Basin College

Great crisis often produces great writing. War is no exception. And, while the historians and politicians write the history, a soldier's version is often found in poems, songs and stories. Soldiers’ spouses and loved ones often also have their own stories to share. These stories need to be told. The Veterans Writers Project will provide a place to tell and refine these stories with the help of other veterans and writers. Initiated in Elko last year by Bill Jones, Vess Quinlan and the Veterans Resource Center at Great Basin College, the project comes together again to enable, encourage and support veterans (and their loved ones) as they share their experiences with others. If you're interested in participating, just drop in or contact the Veterans Resource Center at 775-753-2346 for more information.

Spit Cooking with John Lemich

Jan 31, 9:00am – 12:00pm

john Lemich, owner of Machi’s Saloon & Grill in downtown Elko, learned from his father, grandfather and close family friends how to cook on a spit. John’s family originated in Croatia and immigrated from there to Nevada where his grandfather worked in the mines. John learned at a young age that spit cooking was a great way to gather, tell a few stories, have a drink or two and feed everybody a delicious meal. He has cooked whole pigs, lambs, goats, turkeys, chickens and a 500-pound beef. This class will show you from start to finish how to cook on a spit at home. John will show how to season the meat, put it on the stick, start a fire for the BBQ and control the coals for even spit cooking. You will also cook a pot of Basque style beans, a salad and dessert for lunch when you finish.

Desserts with Kent & Shannon Rollins

Jan 31, 1:00pm – 4:00pm

You can never forget dessert when feeding cowboys on a ranch. Shannon and Kent serve up dessert twice a day on the chuck wagon, and in this workshop they’re going to teach you some of the top cowboy-approved desserts including banana split cobbler, strawberry balsamic vinegar pie and their most requested—bread pudding with whiskey cream sauce that has a secret ingredient you’d never guess! As they tell cowboys, “Loosen up the cinch a little,” because you’ll want to make room for these sweet desserts. Kent has appeared on the Food Network and is the official chuck wagon cook of Oklahoma. He and his wife Shannon travel the country catering and cooking for traditional working ranches.

Wednesday, February 1

A Day at the Ranch Tour

Feb 1, 9:00am – 4:00pm

This year, it's a day at the ranches! Native Nevadan John Collett leads his ever-popular ranch tour to two of the region's historically significant family-owned ranches. Spend the morning traipsing the grounds, tack shed and mechanical shop at Glaser Land & Livestock headquartered in Halleck, Nevada. This centennial ranch has been in the family for over 100 years. Cowboy John himself worked on this ranch cowboying and haying: Ever heard his rattlesnake story? This is where it came from. A morning on this stretch of the ranch is sure to draw out even more stories. Mid-day, a short bus ride will take you to the California Trail Interpretive Center, where you'll be greeted with a lunch of Basque paella, Dutch Oven dessert, and more stories from local cowboys before heading off to your afternoon destination, the old Dressi Ranch. Hosts Mitch and Bob Heguy will lead you through the day-to-day workings of their family ranch while sharing knowledge of ranch issues, the cattle industry and the family's history of sheep ranching and Basque culture. There's never a dull moment when you spend the day with Cowboy John and his friends!

Making Oral History

Feb 1, 9:00am – 3:00pm

Oral histories give people a chance to tell their own story in their own words in their own voice. Learn how to facilitate this process, gaining insight into an individual's life as well as the social, cultural and historical context in which they tell their story. Andy Wilkinson, songwriter, poet and scholar (and this year's keynote speaker), will walk you through the whys and hows of the oral history process and teach you the technical aspects of recording, the conversational aspects of interviewing, and the skills for listening with a keen ear and curious mind. A live interview or two will be conducted and participants will leave better prepared to facilitate oral histories on their own.

Soups, Stews and Cornbread with Kent & Shannon Rollins

Feb 1, 9:00am – 12:00pm

Hearty meals are a must when feeding working cowboys from the chuck wagon. In this workshop, Kent and Shannon will be rounding up some classic southwestern chili, savory cabbage soup and hearty elk stew that will take the chill off any buckaroo’s bones! Any good stew needs a saddle partner and moist Mexican Tres Corn Bread Bake is also on the menu. Get your spoon ready and bring your appetite.

Good Food, Good Humor and Good Will: Cooking Up Something Vegetarian with Tamara Adams

Feb 1, 1:00pm – 4:00p

So, your son's new girlfriend is coming to visit… and she's a… gasp… vegetarian!  Worry not!  Veggie burgers to the rescue!  Learn which grain to combine with which legume... when to add nuts and seeds... how to put every kind of vegetable imaginable into a tasty, nutritious, down-right delicious veggie burger. Condiments and buns, too! For over 40 years, Tamara Adams has managed the kitchen and overseen the organic gardens at Emandal, a family retreat camp and mountain farm founded in 1908, in Mendocino County, California. In 2015, Tamara completed her much anticipated cookbook Emandalicious! Recipes from Emandal - A Farm on a River.

Giving the Imagination Its Musical Say, with Paul Zarzyski

Feb 1, 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Giving the imagination its musical say across the whole emotional spectrum, from tragedy to comedy: an encounter of the otherworldly Cowpoke Cosmos poetic kind with Paul Zarzyski. Part philosophical discussion, part ars poetica palaver, part demonstration of the “Muse’s Cueings” from Paul’s own work, and a very small part workshop, this interaction with a poet of 44 years, which includes 31 consecutive Elko Gatherings, promises to incite fresh ventures into your own writing. Participants are encouraged to bring a single poem that they deem both their most musical and most imaginative, not so much for critique, as to lend further evidence to the “thesis" that our most potent sensibilities and/or visions are hitched, like horsehair—strands of actual experience with strands of the imagination—into oftentimes our most absolute truths.

Friday, February 3

Old Time Ranch Dances

Feb 3, 10:00am – 12:00pm

With the current old-time music revival booming across the country, young and old are rediscovering the joys of social dancing to live music. With a few simple moves, these dances can still raise the roof when the bow hits the fiddle strings. Craig Miller will lead you through dances like the Virginia reel, circle dances and a variety of other dances with simple steps. Partners aren't necessary, just come prepared to meet a lot of people and have a ton of fun, the old-fashioned way.

Songwriting: A Conversation with Corb

Feb 3, 10:30am – 12:00pm

From goth girls to survivalists, bovines to bibles, antique pistols to vintage motorcycles: Alberta-born honky-tonker Corb Lund's songcraft plumbs the depths of his personal experience of the West. His critically acclaimed new album, Things That Can't Be Undone, landed on lists like NPR Music's "Favorite Songs Of 2015," CBC's "Best Canadian Albums of 2015," American Songwriter's "Top 50 Songs of the Year," and Boston Globe’s "Most Overlooked Albums of 2015." Corb will share how he crafts a good song, why he draws on so many genres for his tunes and much more.


Feb 3, 2:00pm – 4:00pm

With this Western classic, you'll have no problem asking that cutie to dance when the lights go down and the band swings into action. And the Texas two-step is the perfect way to snuggle close to your sweetie, while gliding around the room. Learn the basics and a few fancy twirls from Amy Mills in time for the dances. No partners or experience necessary.

Saturday, February 4

Getting Inspired on Guitar: No Limits, a talk session with Mike Beck

Feb 4, 9:00am – 10:00am
Free with 3-Day Deluxe or Day Pass

Gear up to get past your musical limits as guitar maestro Mike Beck talks about an often under-discussed aspect of guitar playing. Forget about fingering, chords and technique and focus on getting inspired. Mike will share his secrets for summoning the creative drive and fire up your inspiration engines in this motivating conversation session. Open to all interested creative souls—the more the merrier. (If you want to work on your guitar technique and playing with Mike, sign up for the combo package that includes this session and a hands-on guitar workshop.)

Bones Workshop

Feb 4, 9:30am – 10:30am

Learn the knack of clacking the bones! Described as the American songster, Dom Flemons draws on his extensive old-time and folk music knowledge to teach the history and skill behind this popular traditional rhythm-maker. Bring your own bones. Don't have bones? Visit the Western Folklife Center Gift Shop prior to the workshop to purchase some.

Getting Inspired on Guitar: The Nitty Gritty Guitar Workshop with Mike Beck

Feb 4, 10:30am – 12:00pm

Mike Beck's rousing and inspiring talk session earlier today sets the stage for this hands-on guitar workshop. Mike will demonstrate technique, fine-tune your individual playing, and impart his guitar-strumming finesse in this more intimate session. Watch your fingers flow as you combine what you learn about inspiration and guitar wizardry from Mike on Friday with your own guitar in front of you on Saturday. Participants need to be experienced guitarists–this workshop will not cover the basics of guitar playing. Registration for this workshop is a package and includes attendance at Friday's Getting Inspired on Guitar: No Limits (no pass necessary for workshop ticket holders).

photo by Jessica Brandi Lifland


Feb 4, 10:00am – 12:00pm

It's been said that if you can't waltz, you can't fall in love! Amy Mills will teach you the tricks to lilting your way across the dance floor in triplet time. (Romantic advice not included—but once you stop stepping on your partner’s toes, who knows what might happen?) No experience or partners necessary.

Rodeo Swing

Feb 4, 2:00pm – 4:00pm

If your toes are tapping but you need some good moves, this is a perfect dance for you. Rodeo swing is the easiest form of swing dancing and the style you'll see at rodeo dances around the West, as well as at Saturday's Midnight Dance. Craig Miller will teach you the moves and keep you smiling. Geared to beginning and intermediate dancers, but all levels are welcome. You don't need a partner to attend.


Banner image: Charlie Ekburg
Workshop images: Andrea Graham, Carolyn Dufurrena, Kevin Martini-Fuller, Jessica Brandi Lifland, Doug Krause, Charlie Ekburg, Luisa del Giudice