For 22 years, the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering has reminded us that theres a lot more to the mythical heroes of the West than ropin and spittin and fightin. A lot more.
There also were many nights spent around a campfire, telling stories and singing songs accompanied simply by a guitar or harmonica. Its that side of life on the range that will be remembered this weekend at the Strater Hotel, and other locales around town. Its a party for cowboys put on by cowboys in words and music, not rodeos and six-shooters.
The showcase events are a combination of poetry and songs by Juni Fisher, Buster McLaury, Diane Tribitt, Dave Stamey, Randy Huston, Bob Bird, Belinda Gail and Chris Isaacs who will perform four different shows with mixed lineups today and Saturday at the Henry Strater Theatre. Also on the musical lineup is two nights with Austins Hot Club of Cowtown at the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
And in between the nighttime shows on Saturday will be a full day of free poetry at the Strater. Cowboys and cowgirls from all over the country, and La Plata County, will read and sing in a nonstop barrage of poems and songs. And with names like Buckaroogirl Adrian, Dirty Don Hinkley, Washtub Jerry and Slim McWilliams, expect the real deal and not some hackneyed re-creation of the Old West spirit.
Theres also what will surely be the quietest of Durangos many parades Saturdays cowboy parade is entirely motorless and a one-of-a-kind Sunday church service, cowboy-style, called A Cowboy and His Creator, also at the Strater.
Linda Mannix, the coordinator of Cowboy Poetry Weekend who has been actively involved every year since its inception, does the wrangling each year. She brings poets, musicians, artists and even just regular ol cowboys to town by the hundreds each year to keep Durangos pioneer spirit alive and well.
Its our way of reminding people that way before Durango was a bicycle town it was a cowboy town and a lot of us are still cowboys and cowgirls, she said.