Thursday, 28 September 2017 06:31

Cowboy Poetry gathering returns to Maple Creek

Written by  Dominique Liboiron, Maple Creek News
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“It’s good for the community,” Eleanor Bowie said of Cowboy Poetry and the Western Art & Gear Show.

Bowie chairs the organizing committee of the annual celebration of western culture, which took place Sept. 15-17. She stated the town of Maple Creek reaps many benefits from the event, but so do all those who participate.
Apart from the boost to the Maple Creek economy generated by the busy weekend, Cowboy Poetry and the Western Art & Gear Show have the added advantage of allowing artisans the chance to promote their wares and to share their interpretation of the western lifestyle. For Bowie, it’s important for people to have a chance to create, to perform and to express themselves; and that’s part of the reason the event is valuable, she explained.
Bowie said the event was rebranded in 2016 as the Maple Creek Mustering as a way to shorten the name from Cowboy Poetry and the Western Art & Gear Show. Both parts still make up the event, but are now grouped under a single title.
The name change draws on western vocabulary to highlight how people come together or gather for it.   
Speaking after the Sept. 16 Mustering Gala at the Armoury, Bowie said she was pleased with not only the attendance of the concert, but of the attendance at other venues, as well. A near-capacity crowd at the gala watched performances by Christine Schauer, Will Ballantyne, Ed Brown, Terri Mason along with songs by Randy and Rai Smith.  The entertainers showed they’re masters of their craft and captivated the audience’s interest throughout the two-hour concert.
Elaborating on Bowie’s comments about the relevance of the annual gathering, Chris Clark explained what the event means to him and his family.
Clark is a power engineer who works in the maintenance department at the hospital. He was also one of the performers during the Cowboy Poetry portion of the Maple Creek Mustering. Clark is a member of the group known as Lynda Udal, Chris Clark & Friends who played during the afternoon Sept. 16.
He explained his group was made up from members of the Cowboy Church worship team. They are also all members of his family. Udal, who played keyboard, is Clark’s mother-in-law while the bass guitar player, Pat Goldie, is his step–father. Clark’s daughter Rachel did vocals.
Clark plays guitar.
“It gives your family a goal,” Clark said of practising and performing together in a way that makes sure the crowd enjoys the show. “It’s fun to participate with your family and friends.”
He added it’s a special feeling to be on stage with his family.
Lynda Udal, Chris Clark & Friends performed a mixed set with a Christian theme that included original compositions along with songs by Randy Travis and bluegrass gospel.
For Clark, who’s performed at the event half a dozen times over the years, Cowboy Poetry is now more about getting his daughter and her cousins to participate in music so they’re more confident and to help foster self-esteem. Although he still enjoys meeting and speaking with other musicians, Clark said another reason for encouraging his daughter to attend is because he wants to see Cowboy Poetry become meaningful for the younger generation so the event continues.
Clark’s daughter is 10 years old and in Grade 5. She sang O Canada and the Star Spangled Banner to open the evening performances at the Armoury Sept. 15 and 16. She learned the American anthem specifically for the event.
Clark credited the organizers for giving young performers a chance to participate in the weekend. 
 On Sept. 17, there were two draws conducted as part of a fundraising effort. Debbie Jans won the handmade heirloom quilt donated by Arlee Lumgair of Waseca, Sask. Jans also won best booth at the Western Art and Gear Show held at the arena. She made and sold wooden plaques with quotations on them along with jewelry boxes and pottery. 
The dates for the 29th Maple Creek Mustering will be Sept. 14-16, 2018.

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