Cracker cowboys

The Gathering Press Corps

Lora Minter and Darcy Minter

Lora Minter and Darcy Minter

Each year thousands of diverse people descend on Elko for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Amongst the talented performers, the excited audience members and the frantic volunteers are a chosen few members of the nation’s and the world’s press corps -- all in town to capture the unique stories that are part of this annual event.  Hidden away in an upstairs room at the Convention Center -- pseudo-sister’s Darcy and Lora Minter (no we’re not related -- just one of those weird coincidences) -- work with newspaper and magazine journalists, film makers, radio show hosts, television crews and photographers who come to town in search of hidden insights into cowboy poets and musicians.

Our job is to overview for reporters all the opportunities the Gathering brings for education, entertainment and collaboration. We arrange interviews, provide background information, guide reporters to unique stories and solve a lot of problems behind the scenes. That job takes us to some interesting places. We might huddle on top of the Western Folklife Center in the snow while a photographer aims a long lens off the roof. We might track down a sound man for an odd metal fitting to connect a National Public Radio reporter into a sound board. We might carry a camera for a NBC crew. The job is varied, sometimes stressful and ALWAYS interesting! Along the way we encounter some great people who are deeply interested in learning about Western life and who wonder about the future of the culture in a rapidly changing, modern world.

Often the working journalists that hail from big cities arrive with preconceptions about small town citizens and rural inconveniences. The majority leave at the end of a hectic several days, amazed at what they have heard and seen, exhausted from way-too-late nights and many early mornings, and more knowledgeable of a lifestyle they’ve come to respect. Almost always they remark on how friendly everyone was. The Gathering provides an opportunity to educate the world about cowboy culture, the West, and a little town called Elko -- all through the stories these working professionals release out into the wide world. We’re happy to be a small part of spreading the word. We couldn’t do it without our media guests who come to learn -- or the wonderful local newspaper, television and radio reporters who share their stories with all of us.

Darcy Minter and Lora Minter (from the press office)

Cracker Cowboy Questions (Now that's alliteration!) and Exhibit Opening

Photo by Jessica Brandi Lifland

Photo by Jessica Brandi Lifland

This afternoon inside the Western Folklife Center in the Wiegand Gallery, a gallery opening will be held for the Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Generations of Tradition exhibit.  If you are a Western Folklife Center member or a stakeholder, the opening begins at 3:30 PM.  The general public is invited to attend the opening at 4:15 PM. 

 If you attend the gallery opening or if see the Cracker cowboys and our Florida guests walking around town this week, here are some questions that you might consider asking them.

  • Seriously, how big are the alligators?
  • Is the word Cracker from the word Quaker or is it from the sound the Cracker whip makes?
  • Have you ever been bitten by an alligator?
  • How do the cattle behave when there is a hurricane?  What do you do?
  • What does swamp cabbage taste like?  To get the cabbage, do you have to get into the swamp… with the alligators?
  • Do you bale hay in Florida or do you have lots of permanent pasture and lots of water?  Can you use swamp water for irrigation?
  • The Cracker cow, what breed is it and how is it related to the Texas Longhorn?
  • What does alligator taste like?  Chicken?
  • How is a Cracker whip different from a bull whip?
  • Is it true that the  Florida State University Seminoles were almost called the Florida State University Crackers?
  • Are you enjoying your time here in Elko?  You know, we don’t have alligators or hurricanes here, but you might want to watch out for badgers and wait five minutes for the weather to change.

 If you have the opportunity, please be sure to welcome all of our Florida guests.  I’ve personally met most, if not all of them.  They are all very kind and very friendly.

Rabbitbrush Marie

P.S.  Yep, I"m thinking about those alligators!  Maybe by the end of this week, with the help of our Floirda guests, Florida will mean more to me than Mickey Mouse, alligators, and hurricanes.  :--)