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It's easy to take full advantage of all the Gathering has to offer by coming early in the week - Sunday, January 28 - Wednesday, January 31, 2018.  Have more time and space to visit with friends, chat with the artists in the Pioneer Saloon, experience great storytelling, poetry and music, and take a hands-on workshop in a Western art not available later in the week. And by participating in a workshop, you can get a discount to an early week show!

Sunday, January 28

Braiding photo by Jessica Brandi Lifland

Rawhide Braiding with Doug Groves

Jan 28, 9:00am - 5:00pm
Jan 29, 9:00am - 5:00pm
Jan 30, 9:00am - 5:00pm
Jan 31,
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 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. Advanced students can make a 16-strand, 5/8" hackamore. 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. 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!

Monday, January 29

Waddie Mitchell making hat, photo by Jessica Brandi Lifland


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

This 3-day course will introduce students to the art and craft of hat-making using methods that have changed little since the 19th century. Participants will be given a 100% semi-finished beaver fur felt hat body of their choice. The class will discuss dry and wet blocking (and how to choose the correct block), pouncing and finishing fur felt hats. Students will properly size, trim and make their hats ready to wear. Master hatters Bernice "Ben" McNeven and Roy Jackson, of Jaxonbilt Hat Co., assisted by master hatter Chaz Mitchell, will offer their expertise during the class. Jaxonbilt Hat Co. International is well-known and recognized worldwide for building quality fur felt custom hats.

Tuesday, January 30

Ranch Cooking with Pam Morrison

Jan 30, 9:00am - 12:00pm

Ruby Valley rancher Pam Morrison is known in the valley and beyond for the meals she cooks for brandings, cattle-working, family get-togethers and holidays. For this workshop, Pam highlights favorite beef dishes, from appetizers to main dish to dessert. By lunchtime, partipants can gather to enjoy a complete meal together. And what's for dessert? Grandma Sharp's recipe for mincemeat pie! Pam is a fifth-generation Elko County native, ranch wife, mother and grandmother. She and her family reside on the family ranch in Ruby Valley, Nevada, which has been in the Sharp family for 93 years.

Veterans Writers Project

Jan 30, 9:00am - 4:00pm
Jan 31,
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. Bill Jones, Vess Quinlan, David Richmond, Ken & Betty Rodgers and the Veterans Resource Center at Great Basin College come together again to host, encourage and support veterans (and their loved ones) as they share their experiences. If you're interested in participating, just drop in or contact the Veterans Resource Center at 775-753-2346 for more information.

Dutch-Oven Cooking
from Sheep Camp to Home

Jan 30, 1:00pm – 4:00pm

For this workshop, some of Elko County's finest Basque cooks come together to share stories and their favorite Dutch-oven meals. The use of seasoned cast iron Dutch-oven cookware to prepare bread, stews and other traditional fare is a valued skill whether outdoors or in the comfort of home. On some of the sheep outfits of northern Nevada, camp-tenders had use of hand-crafted outdoor ovens to make bread and other staples to send out to their herders. Our workshop camp-tenders Zach Arbillaga, Choch Zaga and Ramon Zugazaga will fire up the outdoor and indoor ovens at the Elko Euzkaldunak (Basque) Club for a wonderful afternoon of cooking and eating.

Wednesday, January 31


Basque Cooking with Jean Flesher

Jan 31, 9:00am - 12:00pm

The kitchen is at the heart of the Basque culture, and this workshop gets right to it. Utah bandleader, contractor, Basque personality and cook Jean Flesher will be serving up Basque cuisine in traditional fashion with a northern Basque country flavor. This workshop will feature classic dishes with quality ingredients. Participants will leave with new tricks, mouth-watering recipes and a contented appetite.

A Day at the Ranch

Jan 31, 9:00am – 4:00pm
$175 includes lunch

Surviving in the ranching business inspires creativity and diversification. On this tour to the beautiful ranching community of Lamoille at the base of the Ruby Mountains, you'll hear the unique stories of four ranch families. You'll visit the Mike Gallagher family, which has been ranching in Nevada's Ruby and Diamond Valleys since the early 1800s. You'll stop by to hear Bruce Blackstock's stories of life in the ranching and mining business (and to admire his Hereford herd). Over lunch you'll meet Sue Kennedy of the Kennedy Ranch and Josh Bottari of Bottari's Family Creamery, who have provided leadership in the area's local food movement. Surviving in the ranching business inspires creativity and diversification. On the bus ride, hosts "Cowboy John" Collett and cowboy-and-pharmacist Roy Elsner will entertain and educate.


Cinch making, photo by Charlie Ekburg


Jan 31, 9:00am – 5:00pm

Saddle up and learn the cowboy craft of cinch-making with Jennifer Whiteley, a professional at creating custom-made cinches. Whiteley, with the help of several friends, improved her skill when she lived in remote cow camps in northern Nevada and southern Idaho. Now, while raising her children and running her own business, she encourages others to learn how to make cinches. In this workshop, you can become versed in the basics or improve your current skills. Students will go home with a finished cinch plus their own tools to continue on their own.

The Basque Chef

Jan 31, 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Visitors to the 34th Gathering will see firsthand that Basques know how to have fun. A popular social pastime in the Basque Country involves a bit of bar hopping while sampling the pintxo (small snack) specialties of the house.  Our guest chef from Boise, Asier Garcia, breaks down this artful tradition to enhance your culinary repertoire and satiate your stomach. Participants in this workshop will learn some of the savory skills critical to constructing pintxos that fuel all the fun.

Giving the Imagination Its Musical Say, with Paul Zarzyski, Revisited

Jan 31, 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 45 years, which includes 32 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 2

Harmony-Singing Workshop

Feb 2, 9:00am – 11:00pm

They say everyone can sing, but can you sing with everyone? Raise your voice in chorus with the expert instruction of Caleb Klauder and Reeb Willms. Masters of tight vocal harmonies themselves, Caleb and Reeb lead this workshop aimed at finding harmonies above and below the melody. Sharpen your listening skills, explore the subtleties of nuance and tone, and blend, blend, blend until your voicings are as smooth as P'tit Basque cheese. Bring your songbook and a pencil.

Basque Dance

Feb 2, 10:00am – 12:00pm

Connect with the Basque heritage through music and movement. With light footwork and snapping fingers, you'll be jumping in to join the revelry. All ages are encouraged to attend this workshop to learn circle and other social dances popular in Basque communities throughout the American West. Some of the finest Basque-American dancers, teachers and musicians will be on hand to lead this aerobic and fun workshop. No partner or experience necessary.

Two-Step Dance

Feb 2, 2:00pm – 4:00pm

Are your boots already shuffling when you hear the boom-chuck of your favorite two-step? With this Western classic, you'll be ready 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 partner or experience necessary.

Saturday, February 3

Photo by Charlie Ekburg

Banjo with Dom Flemons

Feb 3, 9:00am – 11:00am

Spend a couple of hours with old-time banjo player Dom Flemons as he shares knowledge about the banjo, discussing the instrument's history and exploring different techniques including claw hammer and finger-picking. Dom will also delve into the arts of accompanying oneself, stage presence and crafting a song! Best to bring your banjo. Intermediate to advanced skills suggested.

Basque Percussion: Pandero

Feb 3, 9:30am – 10:30am

Learn to keep time for beautiful Basque melodies by letting your fingers dance across this deceptively simple percussion instrument. Similar to a tambourine, with a membrane stretched across a circular frame lined with metal jingles, the pandero can be played alone or in groups, and is often accompaniment for the trikitixa (Basque button accordion). You don't need any experience for this workshop, but you do need your own pandero. You can purchase a pandero in advance at the Western Folklife Center Gift Shop.

Polka & Schottische Dances

Feb 3, 10:00am – 12:00pm

Before the Macarena, the Twist, or even the Charleston, the world fell head over heels in love with the Polka and the Schottische. Join Amy Mills to discover why these carefree and infectious dances seduced the early American West. Fair warning—your smile muscles may be aching after a couple hours of polkamania. No partner or experience necessary.

Basque Walking Stick (makila) Carving

Feb 3, 12:30pm - 2:30pm

Make your own makila (Basque walking stick) in this introductory demonstration and workshop. A prestigious symbol and an instrument for both trekking and defense, the traditional makila can take years to make—from the initial cut in a living tree and the time-consuming curing process to the final details of carved designs and silver tippings. Bob Echeverria and friends will pare it down for you, providing harvested sticks pre-prepped for carving and an educational hands-on look at what it means to carve a makila. You'll also be introduced to other ingenious, practical items that provide the canvas for carving during downtime in the sheep camp. All ages are welcome. Please bring your kids and your favorite knife or carving tool (but you'll be responsible for any damage caused to or by either).

Rodeo Swing Dance

Feb 3, 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 grinning. 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: Susan Church, Charlie Ekburg, Andrea Graham, Jessica Brandi Lifland