The 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada Jan. 2012

The 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering—the nation’s greatest celebration of the American West, its people, culture and traditions—will take place January 30 to February 4, 2012, in Elko, Nevada.

Every winter for the last 27 years, cowboys, ranchers, rural and urban people have traveled en masse to this small high desert community, to join with friends, family and others who care about the rural West.

Together, they listen to poetry and music, learn about cowboy culture in the U.S. and around the world, experience great art, watch western films, learn a craft, and gather to eat, drink and swap stories. Ticket sales for the 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering begin on Tuesday, September 6, 2011. Members of the Western Folklife Center, which produces the event, can purchase tickets that day, while non-members can purchase tickets one month later, on Thursday, October 6.

Programs at the 28th Gathering will focus on the southwestern United States, specifically Arizona and New Mexico—which are celebrating their centennials next year—and West Texas. The event will present poets and musicians from the region, as well as workshops and panel discussions focused on regional food, culture and agriculture. An exhibition of Southwest ranching culture featuring the photography of Kurt Markus and Jay Dusard will be on display in the Western Folklife Center’s Wiegand Gallery.

The 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering will feature nearly 50 poets, musicians and musical groups from the U.S., Canada and Australia, performing on seven stages at four different venues.

The line-up includes cowboy poets Baxter Black, Wally McRae, Paul Zarzyski, Waddie Mitchell, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Joel Nelson, Doris Daley and many others. Music is as integral to the Gathering as poetry; the musical line-up includes Ian Tyson, Michael Martin Murphey, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, R.W. Hampton, Stephanie Davis, Wylie & The Wild West, Dave Stamey, Hot Club of Cowtown and more.

New artists at the 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering include Tucson, Arizona’s Ronstadt Generations lead by Michael J. Ronstadt, younger brother of Linda Ronstadt.

Michael continues the family’s musical tradition with his two sons, Michael G. and Petie, who play a rich repertoire of original material alongside traditional Southwest and Mexican songs.

Also at the Gathering for the first time is Montana singer-songwriter Martha Scanlan, who lives and cowboys on a remote ranch near the Wyoming border. Martha’s solo album, The West Was Burning has received critical acclaim. Tim Hus & The Rocky Mountain Two, who hail from Calgary, Alberta, and sing what they call “Canadiana cowboy music,” are also making their debut appearance at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Their latest recording is Hockeytown.

Additional highlights include a keynote address by actor and author Barry Corbin (Lonesome Dove, Northern Exposure) who will discuss the mythology of the cowboy and the misrepresentation of cowboy and ranching life in the media. The Gathering also features hands-on workshops in traditional western arts such as rawhide braiding, hat making and fiddling, as well as three western dances, film screenings, and open-mic poetry and music sessions.

Tickets to the 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering can be purchased at, by calling 775-738-7508, toll-free 888-880-5885, or by stopping in to the Western Folklife Center’s ticket office, 501 Railroad Street, Elko. Western Folklife Center members can purchase tickets beginning at 9:00 am Pacific Time, September 6, 2011, and non-members can purchase tickets beginning Thursday, October 6.

For more information about the 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, or membership in the Western Folklife Center visit or by calling 775-738-7508 or toll-free 888-880-5885.