Polish up those boots and brush off those hats, cowpokes and city slickers, for it is time.
Beginning Thursday (Sept. 28) and running through next weekend, the annual Durango Cowboy Gathering will take over downtown, offering a variety of shows, gallery events, train and trail rides, a chuck wagon breakfast and, of course, the Cowboy Parade that makes its way up Main Avenue on Saturday morning. This year’s Grand Marshals are Ben Nighthorse Campbell and his wife, Linda.
There are also some new events going on, including a petting corral, a quick draw contest and more.
Heading up the Gathering’s lineup of performers this year is award-winning Western entertainer Dave Stamey from Tulare County, California. Stamey, a singer-songwriter, was inducted into the Western Music Hall of Fame in 2016, and he’s also released a dozen albums.
Cowboy Mosey, all day: The Cowboy Mosey is a tribute to the Old West in unorganized, irreverent Durango style. It’s a call for everyone, both locals and visitors, to put on their boots, hats, bolo ties and other Western-inspired “fashion,” even if not in traditional cowboy style. Think of it as Cowboy Snowdown. Anyone can channel their inner cowboy or cowgirl.
Colvig Silver Camps Ranch Petting Corral, 8-11 a.m., Hermosa Café Art Yard, 726 Main Ave. This new event features a variety of kid-friendly ranch critters.
100 Kids & Horses, 8-10 a.m., 700 block of Main Avenue. Meet horses and take a ride. The first 100 children ages 12 and younger to sign up will be treated to a short horseback ride supervised by professional wranglers from Bears Ranch and Colorado Trails Ranch. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. at the Derailed Pour House bumpout (725 Main Ave.). Children may only be registered by their own parent or legal guardian, and they must be present when their child is riding.
Annual Cowboy Parade, 10:30 a.m., Main Avenue downtown.
Quickdraw Contest, 11 a.m., Alpine Bank parking lot, 1027 Main Ave. Hosted by the Durango Creative District, the Quickdraw is not a gunfight. It’s a speed drawing contest. Participants face off with 30 seconds to draw a subject selected for each round. Artists dressed in cowboy fashion are allowed an extra 10 seconds to create a masterpiece.
For the full schedule of events and for more information, visit DurangoCowboyGathering.com.
But, he said, he never really set out to be an entertainer.
“It was a fluke. I was working for outfitters on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Eastern California – in the High Sierras, during pack trips and horse drives and things like that,” he said. “I had played music as a kid in high school and for a short time, and my wife suggested that I take my guitar along and sing for people around the campfire. I didn’t want to do it. I kind of fought it a little bit, but I finally gave in and did it and that’s just kind of snowballed from there.”
As a performer who is also no stranger to the cowboy life – according to his bio in the Durango Cowboy Gathering website, he’s been a cowboy, a mule packer and a dude wrangler – Stamey said he finds that rural America is the overarching theme in his music.
“My work encompasses celebrating the rural American West because I feel that the rural American West is one of the most underrepresented portions of the population, the entire country. They never get any sort of featured mention about anything in the national media, and I think that’s wrong. It’s a very, very important part of our population because they actually grow the food that everybody needs. And so those small communities that I have the honor to travel around and perform ... they appreciate the fact that somebody is telling their stories, and I’m proud to be able to do that. And I’ve made a living doing that for the last 25 years.”
And for Stamey, cowboy gatherings are a way for people to take a break from this busy modern world, even if only for a few days.
“What I believe happens is the more complicated life gets, the more people want to actually reach back and touch something that simple and approachable, if you will,” he said.
For tickets, more information and a full schedule, visit durangocowboygathering.org.