Cowboy Poetry Rodeo Highlight of Western Legends Roundup – Press Release 8/11/2003

DATE 8/11/2003 4:55 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

This is part of an occasional series by the Sanpete Country Travel and Utah Heritage Highway 89 Alliance on the people and places along U.S. Highway 89.

Cowboy Poetry Rodeo Highlight of Western Legends Roundup

┬áThis story is told of a city out West, rich in its trove of historic debris. A small, friendly town, with a most noble quest- “Stayin’ in touch with how things-used-to-be.” Each Fall as the warm summer days near an end, memories of earlier times come astir, then following through on this yesteryears trend, folks will oblige grand events to occur. Old legends are gathered from out of the past, dusted and polished to sparkle like new. Events re-enacted, the heroes re-cast, the “Past” comes alive for the “Present” to view. The sights and the sounds you are likely to hear will conjure up visions of more rugged times. See glimpses from life of the hardy pioneer, hear echoes of history in ballad and rhymes. So let your mind wander, forget it’s today, pretend to be livin’ those days of the past. Then when comes the morrow, you’re likely to say— “Kanab’s Western Legends, shape memories that last!” )) S.A.Jackson ’03Sam Jackson is known as the “dean” of the cowboy poetry rodeo circuit. The Kanab resident earned this title for developing the concept and producing the first cowboy poetry rodeo competition in Cedar City in 1998.Just what is a Cowboy Poetry Rodeo? One sure way to find out is to attend the Western Legends Roundup Aug. 20-24 in Kanab, where the Cowboy Poetry Rodeo is one of the featured attractions. The two-day competition will be held Aug. 22 and 23 supported in part by a grant from the Utah Humanities Council – and this year featuring more than 30 of North America’s top cowboy and cowgirl poets vying for the $5,000 in purse’s and trophies.

Jackson can also provide an explanation along with a bit of history. Cowboy poetry is any poem, prose, ballad, story, or song with a basic pastoral theme about country living, ranch life, or farm animals. “The work can come from anyone who feels that they, either through experience or research, can realistically address the subject,” he says. “Working as a cowboy or ranching experience is not a requirement.” Stories may be written about the past, present, or future and there is no restriction on geography. “Every area of the world has its rural life and is fair game,” Jackson says.

“I sensed that the genre of cowboy poetry, if presented in a positive manner, could become a valuable tool in more ways than just entertainment,” he says. “I felt not only could cowboy poetry help keep our western heritage alive, it could also serve as a rostrum for spreading the ‘Western’ message that most resident stewards of our western lands are doing a noble job as caretakers.”

For cowboy poetry to gain that status and keep the public’s interest, Jackson felt had to be written and presented in a professional and entertaining manner. “So I developed the Cowboy Poetry Rodeo scenario to assist in accomplishing the task.” A Cowboy Poetry Rodeo is organized as much like a regular stock rodeo as possible. Each contestant pays an entry fee and may enter any one of four different events. “Poet/serious” or “Poet/humorous” (a poet performs their own work) “Reciter/serious” or Reciter/humorous” (a reciter performs the work of others). Each “ride” is judged by a panel of 5 seasoned cowboy poets.

During the rodeo at the Western Legends Roundup, the top half of the poets from the first days go-round on Friday advance to the second go-round Saturday morning. The highest four final scores in each event receive prize money, with the top score in each event receiving a championship buckle and an invitation to perform in the head liner show. The Kanab Cowboy Poetry Rodeo begins both days at 8 a.m. at the Old Barn Theater located at Parry’s Lodge.

In addition to the Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, cowboy poetry will be highlighted each day of the Western Legends Roundup, beginning at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 20 with the opening ceremonies at the Kanab High School gym. The gala will include cowboy poets and music.

Thursday, Aug. 21, Jackson will host a free cowboy poetry workshop at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Parry’s Lodge Old Barn Theater. The workshop is aimed at anyone who might be interested in listening to, reading, or writing cowboy poetry. It will feature Canadian poet Doris Daley, who has been a featured entertainer and emcee at every cowboy festival in Canada and several in the United States. She is also the author of a new book, Rhyme and Reason, and a new CD, Poetry in Motion. She will share performance and recitation tips and techniques.

There will be a music and poetry jam session each evening following the Western shows at the Kanab High School auditorium, at the Chuck Wagon Cafi, and at the Wigwam Trading Post in downtown Kanab. All interested cowboy poets and musicians and the public are invited.

On Friday, in addition to the Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, there will be performances by featured Western music groups and cowboy poets from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, the rodeo begins at 8 a.m., and Western music and cowboy poetry performances begin at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as part of the downtown festival activities. At 12 p.m., there will be a High Noon Cowboy Parade and some of the poets will ride in a wagon, and there will be cowboy poetry performances at 3 p.m. as part of the Outlaw Trail Show. Sunday at 9 a.m. there will be a cowboy poetry church under the big “Preachin Tent” on the elementary school lawn.

Kanab’s Western Legends Roundup pays homage to the city’s role as “Little Hollywood” in Utah and the influence cowboys and Western film makers had on the region. Hundreds of western feature films and television episodes were shot in the small town. Because of that history, Kanab holds a celebration each year that attracts thousands of people. For more information, contact the Sanpete County Travel and Heritage Council, (435) 462-2502.

For more information Contact:Monte Bona
Sanpete County Travel and Heritage Council
(435) 462-2502
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