Cowboy Poetry? Parade without Motors? Yes!

Julie Kenney traveled from Harpswell, Maine, to take in the Best Horse Practices Summit and check out southwestern Colorado. She was also a Strater Hotel guest and an awesome Summit volunteer. She filed this report as a first-time visitor to the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering:

By Julie Kenney

Cowboy Poetry: an unfamiliar term to a woman who was born and raised in Maine. The term isn’t distasteful, but it certainly didn’t sound interesting. It reminded me of high school English classes that required poetry reading and writing as part of its curriculum. Boring! The thought of making me do something that didn’t interest me in the first place was the problem.

In early October, I had the great privilege to attend the inaugural Best Horse Practices Summit in Durango, Colorado. I’ve been planning the trip for over a year, ever since Summit director Maddy Butcher and I had a quick meet-up in Maine the previous summer and she told me about this idea she was working on. I was on board from the beginning. This Summit was just where I wanted to be!

Hotel arrangements were made. Money was saved. Airline tickets were purchased. I knew traveling to about 6,300 feet elevation coming from an average of 38 feet elevation might require an adjustment period. So, my flight arrangements had me arriving in Durango two days ahead of the conference.

It just so happens that my hotel, The Strater, and all of Durango for that matter, was playing host to the Cowboy Poetry Gathering at that time. I met some really nice people at the Strater and even had breakfast with one of the participants, a cowboy poet.

That’s how I ended up buying tickets for a couple of Poetry Gathering events. It was worth it! This poetry was stories told, with a little rhyming, or in song format. That’s all. Simple but also intricate. Nothing like the boring stuff required in high school. I was moved to tears, brought to a full belly-laugh, and everything in between. It was patriotic, touching, funny, and uplifting. I was so happy to have been there listening.

On Saturday, there was also a parade that consisted of only non-motorized participants. That meant a lot of horses of all different breeds and sizes, mules, donkeys, llamas, and even a long-horn bull. Coming from a town in Maine that worries about any amount of manure along the roads or on our beaches, it was refreshing to see a whole parade dedicated to the animals that help us move from place to place. They just used a John Deere tractor to follow behind the parade route with volunteers cleaning up the road. No big deal.

If you have the desire to head out to next year’s Best Horse Practices Summit (and I highly recommend it), go a couple of days ahead of time. Watch a parade and listen to the stories told and sung at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering. You will not be disappointed.