Cowboys will gather Wednesday on the eve of Lehi's annual Roundup celebration to recite poetry. It's a first-ever event which the town's arts council hopes will become an annual one.
Some of the area's noted cowboy poets have been rounded up to help listeners experience vicariously the cowboy's life through poems, songs and stories. The first session, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Lehi High School auditorium, is free. There's a $2 charge for people over 8 years old for the evening session at 7, which will include a bluegrass concert by Provo's Dutton Family Band.An old-fashioned ice cream social will follow, and visitors may browse the displays of early western tack, Indian artifacts and other memorabilia related to the cowboy life.
Several of the participants have read their poems in the Elko (ev.) Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Fred Hardy, who farmed in Alberta, Canada for 35 years before moving to Lehi in 1962, still breaks horses. Bob Christensen, Syracuse, resides on the land homesteaded by his grandfather. Last year he published "A Feedbag of Cowboy Poetry."
Ray Lashley memorized the cowboy poems and recited them to friends and family while growing up in Missouri's Ozark Mountains. He has raised horses on his northern Utah farm on the shores of Great Salt Lake for the past 16 years.
Don Kennington, a professional horse shoer for 26 years, began writing poetry in high school in Idaho, but started getting serious about it just two years ago. His brother, Phil, is still a cowboy on the family's Wyoming ranch. The brothers' poetry will be included in an upcoming book.
C. Duane Kerr has practiced medicine and surgery in Tremonton for 25 years and is medical director at Morton Thiokol. He's presented several cowboy poetry programs the past six months.
Hamilton Tiechert spends half the year at his Wyoming ranch and the other half at his ranch in Benjamin. He grew up listening to his mother read and recite. In the 1950s he began writing his own poetry as a means of sharing his experiences with children.
"We're excited. This is something that hasn't been done around here before," said Lehi Arts Council president Mary Ellen Cash. "We think it will be a great event."