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By Linda Mannix
Special to The PREVIEW
Durango was a much smaller town 25 years ago when local hat maker Kevin O’Farrell dreamed up the idea of hosting a Cowboy Poetry Gathering at the Strater Hotel.
Kevin had just returned from the big Gathering in Elko, Nev., and decided that Durango could host one, too. A committee was formed and the original Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering was held the first weekend of October in 1989.
This year, the event will be Oct. 3-6 and it remains headquartered at the Strater Hotel; however, many events have been added throughout downtown Durango.
Don Edwards and Waddie Mitchell were among two of the original performers in 1989 and they return to Durango this year in two special shows, performing together. Don Edwards is world renowned for his preservation of original cowboy music and songs. Waddie Mitchell worked as a buckaroo in the Great Basin and tells stories and poems about the richness of the true cowboy life. It’s a rare opportunity to have them perform together.
Other original performers returning to the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering include Gary McMahon and Gail Steiger, who will be joined by popular favorites Dave Stamey, Chris Isaacs, Belinda Gail, Yvonne Hollenbeck and many others.
New this year will be the addition of a youth program called “Rising Western Stars.” Young performers 6 to 18, will host a show of their own. This show is free on Saturday, Oct. 5, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Henry Strater Theater. It is part of the Saturday Daytime Theme Sessions, which are all free and feature lots of cowboy poetry and music.
The Cowboy Parade is a highlight of the Gathering and this year will feature the Wells Fargo Stagecoach, along with dozens of mounted horsemen, wagons, kids, dogs and folks in vintage costume. Grand Marshals of the Parade are Davin and Theresa Montoya who are being honored for their years in the ranching business. The parade is Saturday at 10 a.m. and all mounted horsemen, wagons and walkers are welcome to participate.
Many events during the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering are free, including concerts with Tim Sulllivan and Juni Fisher at the Rochester Hotel every evening from 4 to 6 p.m.
You can find a complete schedule, order tickets and get all the information on the website www.durangocowboypoetrygathering.org. Also, visit the Facebook page for the Gathering for latest updates about events.
For information, call 749-2995.