Shine your spurs, brush off your Stetson and saddle up for the 2016 Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering! This will mark the gathering’s 28th year, and the event is a uniquely Durango affair with cowboy poetry readings and performances throughout town from Thursday, Sept. 29, through Sunday, Oct. 2.
The historic Strater Hotel in downtown and its classic Wild West watering hole, the Diamond Belle Saloon, will serve as the gathering’s headquarters, and most performances will take place at the Henry Strater Theatre. But there will be a special performance at the Durango Arts Center and other venues around town as well as Western art exhibits and receptions at local galleries, a cowboy parade, a cowboy chuck wagon breakfast, a cowboy poet trail ride and a special cowboy poet train on the Durango train.
Here are some highlights of the 2016 Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering schedule:
Thursday, Sept. 29
7 p.m. — “Mystery of El Dorado” Cowboy Theatre: Western Variety Show with a Twist at Durango Arts Center, 802 E. 2nd Ave. It’s fiesta time in San Mezcal, and the Cisco Kid, adventurers, and scoundrels are seeking a hidden stash of gold left behind by the Rivera Expedition in 1776. Hosted by Lindy Simmons with invited performers from the Saturday Daytime Theme Sessions. Tickets are $20 in advance or at the door, reserved seating.
7 p.m., 9 p.m. — Wylie and the Wild West Premier Performance at Henry Strater Theatre, 699 Main Ave. Wylie and his band have performed their unique blend of cowboy, swing, folk and yodeling music around the world. Tickets are $40, reserved seating. The dance floor will be open for the 9 p.m. performance!
Friday, Sept. 30
10 a.m. — Cowboy Poet Train departs from the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depot, 479 Main Ave., and returns at 3:30 p.m. The Durango train ride will feature cowboy poet performers on every passenger car and will stop in Cascade Canyon for a barbecue lunch and more cowboy fun. Reserve your tickets online now so you don’t get left behind!
10 a.m. — Cowboy Poet Trailride at Rapp Corral, 51 Haviland Lake Road. Feel like a real cowboy during the Cowboy Poet Trailride. The mountain-trail horseback ride with performers Mary Kaye and Randy Rieman includes lunch. Guests can rent a horse from Rapp Corral or bring their own, but space is limited so make reservations early!
5-7 p.m. — Western Art Gallery Exhibit Openings and Free Receptions at three downtown art galleries. Mesteño Gallery at 738 Main Ave. will feature Western and wildlife photography by Claude Steelman and custom jewelry and artifacts. Sorrel Sky Gallery at 828 Main Ave. will showcase work by American West painter Bonnie Conrad as well as poetry readings by Roger Conrad. Toh-atin Gallery at 145 W. Ninth St. will exhibit a new selection of Fred Clark’s Durango and San Juan Mountain photographs dating to the early 1900s as well as a large selection of Navajo weavings.
6 p.m., 8:30 p.m. — Two Cowboy Poetry and Music evening performances at Henry Strater Theatre, 699 Main Ave. The 6 p.m. show is hosted by R.P. Smith and feature four performers, and the 8:30 p.m. show will be hosted by Brooke Turner and features four more performers.
Saturday, Oct. 1
7-10 a.m. — Cowboy Chuck Wagon Breakfast on the corner of Fifth Street and Main Avenue in downtown Durango. Come and get it! Breakfast includes biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs and lots of black coffee. Adults will pony up $10 for breakfast (kids 5 and younger are free), and proceeds benefit the Animas Museum of Durango.
10 a.m. — Cowboy Parade along Main Avenue from the Durango train depot in downtown to 12th Street. Line up to enjoy one of the nation’s largest motorless parades featuring horses, donkeys, carriages, buggies and wagons. Parade festivities kick off with live music up and down Main Avenue as well as a Old West gunfight just north of the Strater Hotel.
1:30-3 p.m. — Cowboy Comedy Revue at the Henry Strater Theatre, 699 Main Ave. New this year is the Cowboy Comedy Revue featuring music and poetry from the funny side of ranch life. Tickets are $10, open seating.
6 p.m., 8:30 p.m. — Two Cowboy Poetry and Music evening performances at Henry Strater Theatre, 699 Main Ave. The 6 p.m. show is hosted by Brooke Turner and features four performers, and the 8:30 p.m. show will be hosted by R.P. Smith and features four more performers.
Sunday, Oct. 2
8:30-9:30 a.m. — A Cowboy and His Creator at Henry Strater Theatre, 699 Main Ave. Sam Noble hosts this version of “cowboy church” that showcases inspirational poetry and music featuring many of the gathering’s featured performers. Free admission, open seating.
11 a.m.-2 p.m. — Sunday Brunch at the Diamond Belle at the Strater Hotel, 699 Main Ave. Need we say more? It’s Sunday brunch, y’all.
You don’t have to stay at the Strater to partake in all the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering fun. We have plenty of room for you at the Durango Quality Inn, one of the top-rated hotels in Durango. The 28th annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering is right around the corner, so book your room at the Quality Inn Durango today!