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National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Trail Blazers, by quilt artist and NEA National Heritage Fellow, Marion Coleman.

Trail Blazers, by quilt artist and NEA National Heritage Fellow, Marion Coleman.


Tickets On Sale
September 3 to Members,
October 3 to General Public

The 36th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering
January 27 - February 1, 2020
View the Brochure (PDF)

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is an annual celebration of the ranching and rural West and of lifestyles that are deeply connected to the earth and its bounty. Through poetry, music, and stories, ranch people express the beauty and challenges of that life. Each year during the heart of winter thousands travel to rural Elko, Nevada to listen, learn, and share at what’s been called the most honest and open-hearted festival in America.

With hands-on gearmaking, cooking, dancing, and writing workshops; live poetry and music performances; exhibitions, talks, films, and storytelling sessions; and plenty of socializing between shows at the historic Pioneer Saloon or at one of the many dances, there’s something for everyone at “the Gathering.” And make sure to check out the open mics this year — or even participate yourself — because at the end of the week we’ll host a show featuring open mic highlights. So, whether it’s your first or thirty-sixth Gathering, this is not one you’re going to want to miss.

And we offer benefits to our Western Folklife Center members that include early purchase of National Cowboy Poetry Gathering tickets. Join Now!

Black Cowboys

From the Mississippi Delta bayou to Buckaroo country, Oklahoma rodeo grounds to the streets of Oakland and Los Angeles, people participate in and identify with cowboy and horseback communities around the country. This year we will feature individuals from these communities to explore and celebrate the sometimes underappreciated historic and contemporary contributions of Black cowboys.

Meet some of our special guests in talks, storytelling sessions, performances, exhibitions, films, and more. Join us for a whirlwind week as we honor the significant and lasting influence Black cowboys have on what it means to be a cowboy.


36th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Playlist

Jay Snider is an invited artist for our 36th Gathering! Here he recites Sunny Hancock's poem, "Bear Tale," at the 2009 Gathering.