Poem on the Range

Liz Masterson is back in the saddle, rounding up a posse of cowboy poets and singers for the 22nd incarnation of the Colorado Cowboy Gathering, which will ride into town today. But you’d understand if Masterson was a little saddle sore: In July, she learned that the Arvada Center, home to the Cowboy Gathering for the past two decades, had decided not to present the event in January 2011.

So Masterson had to hurry and lasso a new venue: the Ranum Auditorium Theater, at 2401 West 80th Avenue. “The facility is great,” she says. “We are really excited. There’s a 1,000-seat hall, a beautiful theater. But right now it seems huge.” Masterson has had no trouble filling the space with an assortment of entertainers, however: At 7:30 p.m. tonight, Riders in the Sky and Masterson herself will perform; tomorrow night’s concert features Waddie Mitchell, poet Doris Daley and Jon Chandler, among others. And during the day tomorrow, there will be assorted seminars on cowboy culture — “you can mosey from room to room,” Masterson promises — as well as a chuckwagon feast.

“The community support for this has really been wonderful,” she adds. “Cowboy poetry gatherings are the Nutcracker Ballet for rural folks, and city folks need a chance to find out what the ranching tradition is about.”

For its part, the Arvada Center plans to continue offering cowboy poetry — but at another time of year, tentatively during OpryColorado in June, when it doesn’t have to compete with the National Western Stock Show. “Our commitment is to growing that audience,” says Gene Sobczak, executive director of the Arvada Center.

But now’s the time to rope yourself some tickets for the original Cowboy Gathering at www.coloradocowboygathering.com, or 1-866-464-2626.
Jan. 21-22, 2011

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun