< Reviews of Past Cowboy Poetry Gatherings, Cowboy Festivals, and Other Events

Best of the West Weekend, June 13 - 15, 2014, Pincher Creek, AB
Review by Janet Barkwith

Allen Christie and his band gave a rocking performance on the Friday night which everyone enjoyed enormously, as always. Allen's a great entertainer, and he played both old favourites and new songs from his latest CD. On Saturday, Gary Fjellgaard entertained in his inimitable style and fully deserved his standing ovation. These great entertainers were ably supported by Matt Patershuk (standing in for Matt Robertson who couldn't be with us) and Camel Dave Howell on Friday, and Dusty Dee Litchfield and Morrie Goetjen on Saturday.

The committee have been trying for several years to combat falling audience numbers, and this year changed the set-up by moving and raising the stage. It looked terrific, and the performers and audience approved. Along with the new set-up, the format was changed a little, and new performers were introduced to play alongside some great old favourites.

Change can be a scary and challenging thing, and if you expect one thing and find another often as not "new" can be equated with "not good", and admittedly we may not have got the mix exactly right this year. Change, however, is necessary to bring in a new audience to join with our old faithfuls, whom we truly appreciate.

This year Saturday was Family Day, with pony rides, face painting, wagon rides and various demonstrations of Western skills to run alongside the music and stories. Unfortunately our changeable Southern Alberta weather didn't help much, and some events had to be cancelled. However, the pony rides moved indoors, and delighted the many children who sat a saddle and imagined for a while that they were cowboys.

Our event generally seemed to go down pretty well, and the much appreciated new-format evening shows exemplified this very well. Bryn Thiessen led Cowboy Church on Sunday morning after our pancake breakfast. We shall go on learning, and finding new ways to bring the songs and stories of The West to both a new and older audience. The West is still very much with us and evolving all the time: it behoves us to evolve with it and to remain relevant to a new generation of Westerners.

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