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Cowpunchers and Punch-Lines Take Over Downtown Durango

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Cowboy poet, R.P. Smith from Nebraska, will host several shows featuring cowboy humor during the 29th Annual Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering at the Strater Hotel in downtown Durango, Colorado.

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Everyone enjoys a laugh with cowboy poet and humorist, R.P. Smith. R.P. will host several shows of cowboy humor during the 2017 Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering October 5 - 8, 2017.

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Cowboy performers enjoy a laugh during the Cowboy Comedy Revue which will be held this year on Saturday, October 7 at 10:30 a.m. in the Henry Strater Theater as part of the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Why did the cowboy get a lot of laughs? Because he's always horsin' around!

The 2017 Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering celebrates the lighter side of home on the range with a humor theme this year. Horse wrecks, puns, twists of fate and other comedic mistakes of cowboy life will keep belly's shaking and grins irrepressible during the 29th Annual Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

The family-friendly Gathering draws thousands to the proverbial campfire of downtown Durango October 5 through 8. Performers of poetry, music, humor and storytelling are all bona fide working ranchers from across the West. All proceeds benefit this nonprofit organization and its youth programs, which work to preserve and perpetuate the traditions of cowboy culture.

"We're trying to instill in the kids a reminder that Durango was built on ranching in the West," says Linda Mannix, event coordinator since 2005. "Sometimes they forget their hamburgers come from a live cow."

Gathering headquarters will be at the historic Strater Hotel (699 Main Ave), where merchandise, walk-in and will-call tickets are available throughout the weekend. Whether you're a horse girl at heart or straight-up city slicker with a penchant for biscuits and gravy, here's a quick rundown to help you get the most out of your Cowboy Poetry experience:

Thursday, October 5:

Poets in the Community: Special performances will take place in classrooms, assisted living and senior living facilities around Durango. Contact Carol Bruno at 970.749.0076 for more information.

Cowboy Theatre Western Variety Show with a Twist: The Gathering kicks off with "Saga of the Dead Man's Hand" at the Durango Arts Center (802 East 2nd Ave) at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 for this family-friendly rootin', tootin' good time.

Laughing Stock Cowboy Humor: If you're looking for a night of high-quality cowboy humor, look no further than the Henry Strater Theatre. This premier performance features some of the funniest names in the industry with Andy Nelson, RP Smith, Terry Henderson and Gary McMahan for two shows at 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $40 for reserved seating and can be ordered online or by calling 970.749.2995.

Friday, October 6:

Poets in the Community: Special performances will take place in classrooms, assisted living and senior living facilities around Durango. Contact Carol Bruno at 970.749.0076 for more information.

Cowboy Poet Train: Combine your love of two very Western things with the Cowboy Poet Train departing the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depot at 10:00 a.m. and returning at 3:30 p.m. Enjoy performers on every coach and a BBQ lunch at Cascade Canyon. Reserve seats by calling 970.247.2733 or visiting durangotrain.com.

Cowboy Poet Trailride: If you'd rather be in the saddle than anywhere else, come to the Rapp Corral (51 Haviland Lake Road) for a 10:00 a.m. mountain trail ride and lunch with performers Mary Kaye and Randy Rieman. Rent a horse or bring your own. Space is limited, so make reservations early by calling Anne Rapp at 970.247.8454.

Western Art Gallery Exhibits & Free Receptions: On Friday from 5:00 p.m. till 7:00 p.m., checkout Sorrel Sky Gallery (828 Main Ave), Toh-atin Gallery (145 West 9th Street) and Wild Shots Gallery (842 Main Ave) for art, performances, Q&A's and good ole fashioned fellowship.  

Cowboy Poetry & Music Evening Performance: Choose between a 6:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. performance at the Henry Strater Theatre. Hosts and entertainers vary, but a good time is guaranteed. Tickets are $25 for each show.

Saturday, October 7:

Cowboy Chuckwagon Breakfast: From 7:00 a.m. till 11:00 a.m., mosey over to the corner of 5th Street and Main Ave for biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs and lots of black coffee. Tickets are $10 for adults, and kids 5 and under are free. Live performances pair perfectly with this community soiree, the perfect appetizer to the Cowboy Parade...

Cowboy Parade: Colorado's largest motorless parade kicks off from the train depot on Main Ave starting at 10:00 a.m. This year's Grand Marshals are the Zink family: Ed and Patti, Jerry and Karen and Anne Zink Putnam. They'll be in the mix with other parade participants, like the La Plata County Mounted Patrol, 6-up Belgian draft teams, Mediterranean donkeys, historic wagons, coaches and carriages, Native American Dancers, US Forest Service Pack Mule Team, buckaroos on stick horses and fashionable ladies and gents dressed in period costume. Contact Pam Jacobs (512.517.5619) with any questions.

Daytime Sessions of Cowboy Poetry, Music, Storytelling and Folklore: If you want to experience the heart of the Gathering, spend a few hours wandering around downtown between these free shows. Beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the Strater Hotel, Rochester Hotel, Cerda Seven and Lone Spur Cafe, enjoy performances from 40 performers in four concurrent theme sessions every hour. Shows last till 4:30. During open sessions, anyone is invited to entertain; just call Lindy Simmons at 970.946.2460.

Cowboy Comedy Revue: The [half-price] version of Thursday night's show, the Cowboy Comedy Revue takes place from 10:30 a.m. till 11:30 a.m. at the Henry Strater Theatre. Tickets are only $10!  

Western Heritage Tribute: The Zink family will be honored for their contributions to the ranching and beef industry in southwest Colorado at the Strater Hotel's Diamond Belle Saloon starting at 11:00 a.m. Lunch menu and cash bar will be available.

NEW! Everything in the Song is True: Settle in for a showing of this award-winning documentary film about cowboy life. The show runs from 2:30 p.m. till 3:50 p.m. at the Henry Strater Theatre and is followed by a Q&A with Gary McMahan and Yvonne Hollenbeck from 3:55 p.m. till 4:20 p.m. Tickets are $10 and benefit our local 4-H Horse Council and Durango FFA. Check out the trailer here.

Toh-atin Gallery Poster Session: A highlight of the weekend, the poster session features 12 performers and musicians showcasing their interpretations of this year's limited-edition poster, "Ten Below Zero," painted by artist Andrew Peters. Performances take place from 4:40 p.m. till 5:30 p.m. and are followed by a free reception till 6:30 p.m. Autographed prints of the poster will be available for $30.   

Cowboy Poetry & Music Evening Performance: Choose between a 6:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. performance at the Henry Strater Theatre. Hosts and entertainers vary, but a good time is guaranteed. Tickets are $25 for each show.

Sunday, October 8:

A Cowboy and His Creator: At 8:30 a.m., join fellow cowboys and cowgirls at the Henry Strater Theatre for a time of inspirational poetry and music brought to life by performers and hosted by Sam Noble. Free admission and open seating.

Sunday Brunch: Following the morning "campfire" at the Henry Strater Theatre, head to the Diamond Belle Saloon between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. for a special brunch menu and grand finale of the weekend's fabulous festivities.  

Another long day on the range ends as dusk settles in. The campfire crackles, and embers rise to meet the first stars of the night. A horse shakes his mane, cattle low in the distance and a pot of coffee simmers on hot coals. You pull the blanket a little closer around your shoulders, stretching your toes to the fire. As one story closes, another chapter opens and all the while guitar chords and yodels fill the void. Git along, little dogies, and we hope to see you at next year's Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Yeehaw!

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