For the past 29 years, cowboy poets have gathered in the West Texas town of Alpine on the campus of Sul Ross State University. It’s called the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering and it kicks off today. Part of the event’s appeal is its small and homey aesthetic. That’s what has attracted visitors like Doris Daley, who has been coming for the last 13 years.
“It’s a gathering-up of old friends and new friends, a Western hug and a Western howdy,” Daley says. “There’s nothing razzle-dazzle about Alpine. It’s more like a family gathering.”
Organizers are clear tap into this appeal – they emphasize that the event is not a festival but a gathering. One of the organizers, Bill Brooks, says it’s really about the performers doing their thing.
“Sit around the campfire and recite poets and sing songs,” Brooks says. “We just happen to do it on a stage.”
Performers have came from a dozen U.S. states and Canada. Audience members attend break-out sessions in classrooms to learn more about cowboy poetry and western music.
(Courtesy of Tom Michael and Marfa Public Radio)