Cowboy poetry gatherings have been a successful venture for many cities in the West. A big one in Nevada comes to mind along with others in spots around New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. Three years ago, Buck Schrader came up with the idea to bring a cowboy poetry event to the Grand Canyon.
As a result, the Hole in the Ground Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering was born. The event has grown each year, not a surprise with the Grand Canyon serving as a backdrop and a community with strong ranching ties such as Tusayan serving as host.
In year one, the gathering drew a modest number of participants, those numbers doubling last year. Now in its third year, the event has branched out away from the Grand Hotel to also include performances at the Best Western Grand Canyon Squire Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Rodeway Inn Red Feather Lodge, and Quality Inn and Suites.
"We have about the same number of performers, there are a few different ones," Schrader said about this year’s event. "We had a few that couldn’t make it this year."
Featured cowboy poets include Ross Knox, Chris Isaacs, Gail Steiger, and Dan and Carol Jarvis. Cowboy musicians scheduled to appear include Buckshot Dot, Jim Dunham, Jon Messenger, and Ken and Lynne Mikells. Schrader, the resident cowboy at the Grand Hotel’s Canyon Star Restaurant and Saloon, also takes part in the festivities.
Because the participants do not receive any money for their trip to Tusayan, Schrader always tried to raise some money to help them out with expenses. In the past two years, an auction has been staged. But this year, funds may be raised through raffles.
"We’ll probably do some raffles or something to try to help out," Schrader said. "Some will have products for sale, things that can make great Christmas gifts."
An annual event on Sunday morning has been the cowboy church session in a conference room at the Grand Hotel. Local cowboy and area historian Harvey Howell will likely lead the 8 a.m., service, Schrader said.
The daytime poetry and music performances at the five Tusayan hotels will run from noon-4 p.m., on both Friday and Saturday.
In the evening, featured cowboy poets and musicians will stage a dinner show in the Canyon Star Restaurant.
For more information on the Hole-in-the-Ground Poetry and Music Gathering, call the Grand Hotel at 1-888-252-5151 or go online to: www.visitgrandcanyon.com.