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About the Gathering

About the national cowboy poetry Gathering

The nation’s original cowboy poetry
and music festival

The Western Folklife Center event known as the Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering started 35 years ago as a place where Western ranchers and cowboys could gather to share poems about their lives working cattle. From the beginning, it was clear these men and women had found their tribe, an artistic community that few knew existed. Three decades later, the tribe is now a nation of Western poets, musicians, artisans and storytellers, sharing their creativity across the country, telling their stories of hard work, heartbreak and hilarity, and what it means to make your way in the rangeland West.

The Elko Gathering was renamed the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering thanks to an act of Congress. Known simply as “Elko” to many, the Gathering embraces its role as a pilgrimage destination for thousands of ranch folk and others who love the West and come to learn and experience art that grows from a connection to the rhythms of earth and sky. The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is six days of poetry, music, dancing, workshops, exhibits, conversations, food and fellowship, rooted in tradition but focused on today’s rural West. Join us in Elko, Nevada, in January, and celebrate the arts and cultures of the American West.

Planning your first Gathering? Check out FAQs and Planning Your Trip! Tickets to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering are now on sale! Members receive special benefits to the Gathering and throughout the year: to become a Western Folklife Center member or renew your membership, click here, or call us at 888-880-5885 ext. 222.

We invite you to join us as we celebrate our 36th Gathering from January 27 through February 21 2020. It’s never too soon to start planning for “Elko!”

Banner image: Jessica Brandi Lifland;
Slideshow images: Charlie Ekburg, Jessica Brandi Lifland