About the Western Folklife Center

A regional nonprofit organization based in Elko, Nevada, the Western Folklife Center works to expand our understanding of ourselves and our neighbors by celebrating the everyday traditions of people who live and work in the American West.

The Folklife Center strives to create deep and lasting experiences, to challenge the intellect and engage the emotions, to encourage a sense of belonging for those at home in the West, physically or spiritually, and to ensure that rural communities throughout the region realize and appreciate their own cultural bounty.

Since it was founded in 1980, the Western Folklife Center has helped raise public awareness of and support for the traditional, expressive culture of the American West. Though it is best known for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Folklife Center provides exhibitions, performances, and a full array of workshops and youth education programs at its cultural center in Elko and in communities across the West. The Folklife Center also regularly produces national programming for public radio and television, and creates CDs and DVDs based on original fieldwork. In 2006, we introduced our podcast, Ranch Rhymes: Cowboy Poetry and Music from the Western Folklife Center. And in 2008, we established our nonprofit  YouTube channel to further expand our cybercast and Deep West video audiences.

The Western Folklife Center is governed by a Board of Trustees, along with a National Advisory Council made up of leaders in western cultural life. A full- and part-time staff of 14 work at the Elko headquarters and three employees work in outlying states. A cadre of members and stakeholders located throughout the United States and several foreign countries support the Folklife Center. Hundreds of volunteers assist in staging events, fundraising, and supporting the mission of the Folklife Center. Operating support comes from a combination of earned income, contributed income and public sources. Members located throughout the United States and several foreign countries support the Folklife Center. Additional funding comes from local businesses, individuals, foundations, and government organizations.

Click here for directions to visit us at the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada.

About our Logo

Western Folklife Center logoThe Western Folklife Center logo is a symbol that intrigues and challenges you to discover its meaning. As a metaphor it can carry many associations, but its essential nature still echoes who we are as an organization. In it you may see roads coming together from four directions, someone else may see fence posts, a corral, tree branches or a sun. It speaks of connection, of place and land, the West’s past and the West’s present. It feels organic, rural. It feels authentic. As Executive Director Charlie Seemann says, “it still has hair on it.”

A logo is only a symbol of an organization’s brand. What’s more important than the logo itself are the values behind it. “A Place of Personal Meaning,” articulates what our friends and audience members have told us is meaningful about what we do. These are our brand statements, and the barometers we will use as we develop new programs and assess the value of the current ones.