he National Cowboy Poetry Gathering took place at the Western Folklife Center in Elko Jan. 29 – Feb. 3, with live performances and jam sessions, dancing, leather working, writing workshops, artists talks, and of course, plenty of cowboy poets. 


Motels throughout Elko welcome welcomed visitors to the gathering.


Behind the scenes planning board for workshops and events for the gathering, Western Folklife Center


Sean Sexton shares a couple of examples of his journals in his class “Life-Lines—An Introduction to Nature Journaling”; Nevada Humanities “Sagebrush to Sandstone” hides in the background.


A student’s watercolor from “Life-Lines—An Introduction to Nature Journaling” class


Sean Sexton shares the work of Nevada Humanities Program Manager Bobbie Ann Howell.


A kinetic metal sculpture by Susan Glaser Church


Oil paintings of Tuscarora by Ron Arthaud


A rawhide braider shows off work in progress.


A display of reins to show as examples to rawhide braiding students


Silver work on display in the Elko Convention Center’s vendor hall


A rawhide braiding student


Rawhide braiding class


This ornate saddle by Jeremiah Watt, a master producer of historical saddles and ranch gear from California’s Central Valley, includes stamped leather, gold leaf highlights, and engraved metal work. In Watt’s milieu, great work takes time. The saddle was initially commissioned by the Western Folklife Center in 1993 and was delivered in September 2021—28 years later.


Beadwork of a running horse


John Hoff plays piano and drum at the Pioneer Saloon in the Western Folklife Center.


Nationl Cowboy Poetry Gathering quilt


Attendees await a shuttle in front of the Western Folklife Center


Basque dining at the Star Hotel and Bar


Folklorist Tayloy Burby learns how to tie a neckerchief from cowboy poet D.W. Groethe


Poetry open mic


Zydeco accordionist Geno Delafose proudly shares accordion basics during a break.


Shane Hepworth from Elko tries playing a frottoir (wearable washboard)


Attendees learn Zydeco and Cajun dancing


Photographer and rancher Joseph Haeberle gives and artist talk in the Wiegand Gallery


A couple dances during the jam session at the Western Folklife Center


To sign up to receive updates on the 2025 Cowboy Poetry Gathering, visit the Western Folklife Center’s website.

Posted by Ashanti McGee

Ashanti McGee is an artist and advocate for the arts based in Las Vegas. She's a mom of four, collector of hobbies, and adventure lover. Visit her webpage at ashantimcgeeart.com.