From his earliest days on the remote Nevada ranches where his father worked, Waddie Mitchell was immersed in the cowboy way of entertaining, the art of spinning tales in rhyme and meter that came to be called cowboy poetry, a Western tradition that is as rich as the lifestyle that gave birth to it.
Grammy nominated singer-guitarist Don Edwards is an acclaimed historian, author, and musicologist who is unusually well-versed in cowboy lore and musical traditions. Don Edwards has two recorded anthologies of cowboy songs, Guitars & Saddle Songs and Songs of the Cowboy, included in the Folklore Archives of the Library of Congress.
Cheyenne hosts the inaugural Heart of the West Festival showcasing Wyoming's largest gathering of cowboy poets, western musicians, storytellers, and artisans on Labor Day weekend, Friday, August 31 through Sunday, September 2, 2007. The festival celebrates and preserves historic traditions of the authentic Old West through concerts, poetry readings, a juried art show, a gunfight, book signings, a chuck wagon dinner around a campfire, and a CowboyChurch service.
The Bard and the Balladeer
After a Friday night kick-off reception at The Historic Plains Hotel, cowboy legends Waddie Mitchell and Don Edwards join together to perform with the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra at the CheyenneCivicCenter. Mitchell and Edwards, famous for western prose, combine song and folklore with invigorating instrumentals. Call 307-637-6363 for tickets. (Read more about Waddie Mitchell and Don Edwards in the sidebar.)
More to Boot...
On Saturday, September 1, downtown Cheyenne reenacts bawdy gunslinger days with a good old-fashioned shoot-out in front of the CheyenneDepotMuseum. Beginning at 10:00 AM, a variety of concerts will take place on three open-air stages located at The Plains Hotel, the Atlas Theatre, and the DepotMuseum. Performers include Tim Nolting, Rich O'Brien, Bobby Bridger, Gary McMahan, Barry Ward, and Jon Chandler & the Wichitones. Best-selling author of western novels and poems, Jon Chandler along with other regional writers including Candy Moulton, John Nesbit, Lori Van Pelt, Corinne Brown, and C.J. Box will be on hand to autograph books. Afterward, shine up your belt buckle and head over to the chuck wagon for some vittles and a sing-along around a blazing campfire.
An outdoor CowboyChurch service by Barry Ward, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Association of Christian Rodeo Cowboys rounds up the weekend on Sunday paying tribute to the rich Western legacy. Breakfast will be available.
The Cheyenne Downtown Development Authority and The Plains Hotel coordinated efforts to create this new festival. Event committee co-chairs, Debbie Disney, The Plains Hotel Assistant General Manager, and Jon Christoffersen, Cheyenne Downtown Development Authority Marketing Manager, agree that the deep-rooted cowboy heritage in Cheyenne makes for a perfect venue. "The Cheyenne Heart of the West Festival brings together a rich variety of traditional western cultural resources targeting a diverse general audience to enrich their appreciation and understanding of the historic traditions of the authentic Old West" is the committees' mission statement.
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For a complete schedule, go to www.CheyenneCowboy.com. Tickets are available online or by calling Kim Alameda at The Plains Hotel at 307-638-3311. For the Friday night concert, The Bard and the Balladeer , call the CheyenneCivicCenter at 307-637-6363.
Three day pass to all events: $60
Friday evening concert pass : $30, $20
Saturday Gathering, (Atlas, Depot & Plains stages) with evening concert and dinner pass : $30