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Howdy folks! 
Wylie Tipping Hat Wylie Gustafson accompanied by The Wild West will be performing in Maple Creek on September 13, 2012. (Photo by: Thomas Lee, thomasleephoto.com)

If you haven’t already done so, mark your calendar for the third weekend of September, shine up the cowboy boots, shimmy into your wranglers and dust off your hat, cause the Cowboys (of the Poet variety) are gathering in Maple Creek.

Ok I, Elizabeth, admit that I own none of those items. Regardless the three-day annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering is on my bucket list of festivals to attend. We have recently learned that this year the gathering will be opening with a bang as Cowboy-Poetry-Royalty (wow that is a mouthful) Wylie & the Wild West saunter into town. They will  perform Thursday, September 13, 2012. Don’t know who he is? Just enter Wylie Gustafson’s name into your Google machine and voilà! I am not going to lie, that is exactly how I became familiar with him. What did I learn about Wylie is he’s a “real” cowboy that owns a quarter horse ranch in Montana; he’s been a guest on Conan O’Brien; and he’s the guy that does the  Yahoo Yodel. Together, with his band The Wild West, Wylie Gustafson has made more than 50 appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. Not to mention that soon he’ll be bringing his brand of music to the classical set with a symphony show (www.wyliewebsite.com).

I urge you to keep following the You Tube-trail, and within minutes you will be tapping your toes and learning how to Yodel right along with Wylie. (If “Learn to Yodel was one of the things on your own bucket list that is!).
Aside from Wylie’s sure-to-be-spectacular performace, what exactly is this Cowboy Poetry Gathering all about?  As an outsider I have an incredibly romantic view of the beginning of Cowboy Poetry around campfires, telling stories and creating a stronger fellowship among a breed of men. It was and had continued as a way to tell stories of cowboy heritage and pass down the tales of the generations.

The cover of Doris Bircham’s Cowboy Poetry Book “Where Blue Grama Grows.” Bircham was one of the people who originally worked to bring the Cowboy Poetry Gathering to Maple Creek in the late 1980′s.

One such Southwest Saskatchewan poet and one of the founding members of the gathering is Dorris Bircham who is described in her book Where Blue Grama Grows, as “(She) is a poet of the immediate and the human; hers is a voice that is authentic and imbued with a constant sense of awe. Her lyrical telling of the land and the unforgettable characters she draws are taken straight, unfiltered from the experience of living in this starkly beautiful part of the world.”

The later part of the description is one that can be used to describe most cowboy poets.

The poets featured at a Cowboy Poetry gathering are writing and drawing from experiences that are close to their hearts. I recently had the privilege of speaking with a few of the regular performers from the Southwest. Dorris had me nearly falling off my chair laughing as she recited a poem she wrote about when her husband became “sick” and she needed to tackle the ranch chores on her own. Throughout the recitation you quickly caught on that her husband was quick to take the doctor’s advice and get lots of rest.

In this video clip, Scott Reesor describes with humour how a day checking cattle turned sour. The poem is called, “Another day in the shoot with Pa”

The gatherings are more than just about poetry, they’re also a showcase of cowboy craftsmanship. Between being entertained at venues throughout the community attendees mill around display booths of artisans and vendors ranging from western ware, to hand crafted saddles and jewelry.

When asking around Maple Creek what made the Cowboy Poetry Gathering special, the response was unwavering. “It is the camaraderie that brings you back each year.” Part of the gathering is celebrating good ole’ fashioned western hospitality.

It saddens me I won’t be attending the Gathering this year due to previous commitments. However, I invite you to leave a comment or send us a message at goheredestinations@gmail.com and let us know about one of your experiences at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Maple Creek.

Maple Creek, the “Cow Town” of Saskatchewan, is the perfect site for a Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

How to GoHere:  Maple Creek is located just off of the Trans Canada Highway between Swift Current, SK and Medicine Hat, AB.  Once in town, just  continue straight on to Pacific Ave and continue till Sidney Street.  Turn right onto 2nd Ave, and left onto Walsh Street and voila – the Legion Hall will be right there.  Or of course you can always follow this map.

Good to Know:

Purchasing tickets for Wylie and the Wild West performance on September 13, 2012:
Cost: $35 per person
Tickets are available at the Star Cafe or by calling (306) 661-8481.
Performance starts at 8:00 p.m. at the Legion Hall

Purchasing tickets for the Cowboy Poetry gathering on September 14, 15 and 16, 2012:
Phone: 306-662-2434 (The Jasper Centre) to reserve your weekend pass
Cost: $65 per person
Includes: Unlimited access to all venues for all three days, Guaranteed seating for the Special Friday and Saturday Evening Performances, Saturday Beef Buffet Supper and the Sunday Pancake Breakfast.

Gotta Go:

Each venue will have adequate washroom facilities. Just a reminder that two our of favourite Southwest Loo’s are located in in Maple Creek. You will find out more about them by visiting the Gotta Go page at the top of the website.

General Schedule of events:

FRIDAY SEPT 14,201
COWBOY POETRY DAY SESSIONS AT THE ARMOURY BEGINS AT 10:00 AM

WESTERN DESIGNER FASHION SHOW 7:30 PM AT THE ARMOURY

SATURDAY SEPT 15,2012
DAY SESSION AT THE ARMOURY BEGINS AT 10:00 AM
BEEF BUFFET SUPPER 4:00 PM TO 7:00 PM AT THE LEGION
BENEFIT ART AUCTION  6:00 PM MC COMMUNITY ARENA
GALA PERFORMANCE 7:30 PM AT THE ARMOURY

SUNDAY SEPT 16TH,2012
DAY SESSION AT THE ARMOURY BEGINS AT 12:00 PM
PANCAKE BREAKFAST 7:30 AM TO 9:30 AM AT THE LEGION
COWBOY CHURCH SERVICE 10:00 AM AT THE ARMOURY

WESTERN ART & GEAR SHOW AT THE COMMUNITY AREA
FRIDAY 12:00 PM TO 6:00 PM
SATURDAY 10:00 AM TO 6:00PM
SUNDAY 12:00PM  TO 4:00 PM

THESE TIMES AND VENUE PLACES MAY CHANGE

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