Every October, when it is time for the annual Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering, I can’t help but think of those Saturday mornings when, as a child, I would grab my stick horse and toy six shooters and position myself in front of the television set.
I was ready to save the day along with the Lone Ranger, Gene Autry and, of course, Roy and Dale.
When I first visited Durango back in the mid-seventies, it felt like I had been transported in time to an old western town of a bygone era. Many people, especially long-time locals, feel that Durango is moving away from its western roots. But for four days in October, we have the opportunity to experience Durango as it might have felt in 1882.
The Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering prides itself on celebrating the lifestyles and traditions of working ranch people in the American West. It does this by bringing real working cowboys to town who write poetry, tell stories and sing songs. There are evening performances and daytime sessions, Western art gallery exhibits, a documentary film and a special “Cowboy Poet Train and Trail Ride” at Rapp Corral.
During the gathering, we send cowboy poets and musicians to perform in over 40 classrooms, assemblies and senior centers. Young people have become technologically oriented and these performers remind the students of Durango’s foundation of ranching, mining and railroading.
Our Saturday chuckwagon breakfast (7 to 11 a.m.) is another event that promotes an appreciation of the culture and traditions unique to the West. Our cowboy parade, the largest motorless parade in Colorado, does its best to celebrate the lifestyles of rural people, as well as focus on various organizations in the community.
It provides an opportunity for anyone who is interested a chance to get their “cowboy on” by participating in a fun-filled family event. Wagons, carriages, horses, mules, miniature donkeys, llamas, dogs, buckaroos on stick horses, fashionable ladies and gents dressed in period costume and even a genuine performing Texas longhorn, are all part of an exciting morning.
Thanks to the Diamond Belle Gunslingers, the parade will kick off at 10 a.m. with an Old West gunfight in front of the Main Mall. Local music groups will be performing up and down Main Ave., before the parade begins.
Join the gathering for four days of music, poetry, gallery exhibits, food, fellowship, cowboy humor and fun. Your participation instills a sense of community pride in our western heritage and shows an appreciation for the values and lifestyle of the American cowboy. Happy Trails!
Pam Jacobs is the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering parade coordinator. See durangocowboygathering.org for more information.