Cowboy Poetry in Elko
Photo by Sydney Martinez | Travel Nevada
If you’re familiar with the term “cowboy poetry,” you have the annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV to thank for that. If you’re not familiar with it, well, get ready for one heck of a wild ride, because you’re about to discover one of the West’s premiere cultural gatherings where nobody puts on airs and everyone leaves with a deeper appreciation of those who pioneered our region.
America’s Top Cowboy Poetry Festival
What’s a cowboy poetry festival, you ask? Created in 1985, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering was originally known as the Elko Gathering and is held each year in January. With cowboy-themed poetry at its heart, this week-long festival has grown to include other art forms including music, folklore and other Western traditions that are kept alive by founders Waddie Mitchell and Hal Cannon and other familiar faces who gather at the Western Folklife Center.
The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering celebrates life in the rural West, featuring the contemporary and traditional arts arising from lives lived caring for land and livestock, fixing fences and raising families. Each year, modern-day cowherds tell tales of heartbreak and hilarity, Western ranchers and cowboys, days of hard work and just about anything else you can think of related to the cowboy way.
National Cowboy Poetry Gathering 2023
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The 2021 and 2022 editions of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but organizers are working hard to ensure the event returns in 2023. In the meantime, smaller events such as the 2022 Wild Ride have helped folks get their fill of stories about riding the range, working cattle and other tales of life in the American West. Stay tuned to this page for updates as they become available or visit the Western Folklife Center for more information.