Cowgirl Marleen Bussma recites a poem she wrote called “The Huntress” during the Twelfth Annual Mesquite Western Roundup held at the Mesquite Community Theatre Feb. 23 and 24. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

The 12th Annual Mesquite Western Roundup presented by the Mesquite Arts Council and sponsored by Primex Plastics was held at the Mesquite Community Theatre on Feb. 23 and 24. The sold out shows were a huge success as Cowboy Poets educated the large audiences on the hard but often humorous life of cowboys.

Cowboy Poets Russ Westwood, Brice Wilson, Mike Prince, Lee Kimberlin, Farrel Bott, Mike Kerr, Hap Stuart and cowgirl, Marlene Bussma illuminated the audiences with humorous and perhaps exaggerated but true tales of the occupational life of a cattle rancher.

Cowboy poetry is a form of poetry that originated and grew out of a tradition of reciting impromptu stories which were carried on by workers on cattle drives and ranches.

Virgin Valley Artists Association President Karen Miskimins presents artist Dave Hammaker with the People’s Choice Award during the reception for the “Reflections” exhibit, sponsored by Mesquite Local News, held on Feb. 22 at the Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

After a day of work, cowboys would gather around the campfire and entertain one another with tall tales and folk songs. Illiteracy was common among ranch hands, so poetic forms were used to aid in memory.

Volunteers had folks on the edge of their seats waiting to hear their name called to win one of the many raffle prizes donated by local artists during which was held during intermission.

Today many of the cowboy poetry comes from rancher’s wives, ranch owners, rodeo cowboys, and folks that hold down a 9 to 5 job but raise cattle on the side and even some who have a deep love for but only aspire to the cowboy lifestyle and just enjoy the art form.

This past week at the Western Roundup, the stories and songs came from many of our own Mesquite residents who had spent years gathering content but now prefer the retired lifestyle to the cowboy one.

Mesquite Showgirls were costumed as saloon girls greeting the guests in their usual style and flair, selling raffle tickets and boosting enthusiasm all around.

Special guest stars Richard Elloyan and Steve Wade have been writing and performing together for most of the past 45 years. Together they have been featured performers at festivals across the west. The two just released a new CD titled, “Up for Adoption.” The title song of the album spoke of the plight of the wild horses.

It was quite obvious by the large numbers in the audience for the Western Roundup that many of our Mesquite residents also enjoy the cowboy lifestyle or at least listening to the stories the cowboys just love to share.