Mark your calendars for the 2016 Echoes of the Trail Cowboy Gathering at Fort Scott Community College in Fort Scott, Kansas. It will be our 20th year, and we plan to do it up right! Active military personnel and veterans will be admitted half price! Tickets are available at the door or at Country Cupboard on Main Street in Fort Scott, Kansas. For both June 17 and 18: $20 per person ($10 veterans & active military) For June 17 Cowboy Dance in Danny and Willa Ellis Family Fine Arts Center: $10 per person($5 veterans and active military) For June 18 in Bailey Hall: $15 per person ($7.50 veterans & active military)
This year on Friday evening, we will have a Cowboy Dance to celebrate our 20th year! Jason Richison and his band, Crossfire, featuring singer Kinley Taylor Rice, will provide the western music, and there will be tables and seating also. So ya’all come and stomp yer feet, or jes’ set a spell and enjoy! The dance will be held in the Danny and Willa Ellis Family Fine Arts Center. Doors will open at 7 p.m., and the dance will be from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Then, on Saturday, the doors of the Academic Bldg., which is Bailey Hall, will open at 9 a.m. so you can shop with our vendors of all sorts of western goods, and you can hear superb performers sing and tell tales on the Round Room stage from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with a break for lunch at the chuck wagon outdoors. After dinner on your own, our evening show at 7 p.m. will feature Johnny Kendrick and his sons, The Branchy Boys, Del Shields and Geff Dawson. Johnny is one of the founders of our event and composed our theme song. Del is co-host singer/composer on RFD-TV’s Best of America by Horseback and a regular at Echoes of the Trail. Geff Dawson was one of the featured cowboy western entertainers at Silver Dollar City's Salute to the Great American Cowboy in 2007, 2008 and again in 2012. He was the 2006 Silver Buckle Champion and Best of the Best winner at the world’s only Western Legends Roundup Cowboy Poetry Rodeo in 2006 and in 2009 he won the Best of the West Shootout. Most recently he was honored as a 2012 Inductee into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame. Geff and wife, Dawn, recently teamed up to create a unique cowboy music sound and they perform cowboy poetry, western music and lots of cowboy entertainment.
This year on Saturday, we have some new talent, along with our usual fine performers. A special treat will be when Jim Hoy returns to Echoes from 1:15 to 2 p.m. Jim was with us in 1998 and 2007.
Jim Hoy was reared on a ranch in the Flint Hills near Cassoday where he broke horses, worked cattle, and rodeoed. He is a folklorist who directs the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State University, where he taught for 45 years before retiring from the classroom in December of 2014. He has published 17 books, most of them dealing with the folklife of ranching to one degree or another. In 2004, Jim was inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Also on the slate for Saturday are Trey Allen, Gerry Allen, D. J. Fry, Geff Dawson, Richard Dunlap, Ron Ratliff, Abe Reddekopp, Cliff Sexton, Royce Smithey, Jay Snider, Steven Spalding and Bill White.
All these performers have graced the Echoes of the Trail stage in the past, except for Trey Allen and Jay Snider. We are honored that Jay accepted our invitation. He was the 2008 Academy of Western Artists' Top Male Poet and the 2005 Best of the Best at National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, Kanab, Utah. Jay Snider was born into a ranching and rodeo family in southwest Oklahoma. Today, he makes his home in Cyril with his wife, Sandi. His dad was a top roper and rodeo cowboy; his granddad was a brand inspector for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Jay rodeoed during his early years. He now stays busy raising cattle and ranch horses and team roping.
Writing and reciting cowboy stories in verse since 1996, Jay says he's not sure his English teacher would consider it poetry. Explaining the reason behind the pursuit, he says: "I've been researching the cowboy way of life for nearly 60 years. I felt a need to preserve some of the stories I heard from the old timers, and I wanted to try to relive some of my own experiences. Fortunately, cowboy poetry seems to appeal to most people. I thank God for the greatest super-hero of all times: the American Cowboy."
According to his web site, Jack "Trey" Allen hails from Hooker, Oklahoma, where he "landed" following a life of bull riding, horse shoeing, and starting colts. He has been writing and reciting cowboy poetry for over 20 years and has performed in most of the U.S. He won the Kansas State Cowboy Poetry Competition in 2011, and has appeared in National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo events. Besides winning over bulls and colts, he has battled and won over cancer.
As you can see, our 20th anniversary will be filled with fun and talent! We are thankful for the many cowboy poets and singers who have been with us over the years, and we mourn the loss of many.
As usual, you can look forward to many vendors of fine western items. Some of them have been with us many years, and some are new, such as Fisher Rocks, who will create specially engraved rocks, such as the one they are donating for our silent auction, with the Echoes of the Trail logo!
You may also recall the work of wonderful artist Jim Clements, who will be with us again this year, as well as the lady who does chicken and other farm animal paintings. The vendors will be available only on Saturday, June 18th this year, in the halls of the Academic Bldg. (Bailey Hall) near the Round Room.
Again this year, the winners of our Gary Wimmer Memorial Kids’ Cowboy Poetry Contest will read their winning poems, and the winning pies from the Pie Contest will be auctioned Saturday night. We will have a Silent Auction, and we will also auction a special item, the proceeds from which will go to Heroes Among Us.
Again this year, Tod Bunting, Steve Rodina and their crew will bring their chuck wagon and make some great cowboy grub for us at noon. All proceeds from the free will offering will go to their cause, Heroes Among Us. In recognition of the wonderful work they do, all veterans and active military will be admitted to all Echoes of the Trail events this year at half price.