When the Western Folklife Center was founded in 1980, its mission was to raise awareness of the traditional expressive culture of the West and of its value to our society as a whole and to our lives as individuals.
After more than 25 successful years in which we developed one of the largest grassroots festivals in the West and started a movement that would make cowboy poetry practically a household word in this country, we have asked ourselves why. What is it about this genre, this event, this thing called western folklife, that grabs people and won’t let them go?
In a recent audience survey you told us that it is about authenticity, a sense of place grounded in land and landscape, intellectual soul food, friends, and let’s not forget solid entertainment. It’s real heartfelt artistic expression that honestly portrays what living in the rural West is like. Has this type of authenticity become such a rare commodity in our society? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this; but, in the meantime, we hope you will support an organization and an event that provide you with such meaningful experiences. We are doing all we can to ensure the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering continues its long track record of success and that all our programs and services fulfill our mission to preserve western folklife and present it to you.