Almita’s first annual Cowboy Poetry on April 18 at the Ponoka Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion raised $4,000 for STARS Air Ambulance.
The event saw more than 200 people enjoy a night filled with music, poetry, good food and great fellowship.
“We didn’t expect this turnout. It was amazing,” said Larry Kaumeyer, president of Almita. “We have fabulous local talent and world class poets here. I am thrilled with the turnout and we are looking to build on this for next year.”
Fred Hiebert, from Ponoka, sang with the band The Runaways and was pleased with the event.
“It’s a very good response. Ponoka needs these types of events. It’s one more venue for people to perform,” said Hiebert. “Passing down culture orally is pretty much how things have always been done. The oral tradition is very important to continue especially in an age where people choose to communicate electronically.”
Local Ponoka poet Hazel Rust entertained the crowd with her loud and exciting storytelling. She says that she has been writing poetry for six years and always enjoys reciting.
She started her act out with explaining why she decided to be a poet, after helping her husband carry around his gear as a roadie. She said that she became a poet, “So all I would have to pack is me!”
She also recited a poem about Old Blue from 1952 and one about computer terminology and how it confused her sometimes.
She thought that the evening was really nice especially since Ponoka is known for the stampede and the western lifestyle.
“Cowboy poetry rhymes, it makes sense and you get to tell a story. If you want to tell someone something you can always get away with it in a rhyme,” said Rust. “God gave you a talent and it’s nice to share it and this is a way of preserving some of this stories.”
Prairie Rose entertained the crowd with some beautiful sharp harmonies. The duo made up of Cindy Gabert, from Ponoka and her sister Rhonda Whatley were asked to perform and loved the atmosphere of the evening.
“The storytelling and history is so down to earth,” said Gabert. “I never thought I would like it but I loved it and I just got caught up in the stories.”
The evening was filled with a wide variety of entertainment including local farmer and poet Bill Turner who entertained the crowd with his ‘hick’ version of the three little pigs. He also took the crowd back in time with a story about his grandfather who worked the line in the late 1870s. He recollected how tough the dark days were when they worked 60 hours without a bite, the wagon upset in the river and they lost half of their cooking utensils and that they never gave up.
Also performing was University of Alberta singer Jesse Fowler who had a deep soulful voice for such a young age and Bryn Thiessen with some lasting humour.
The evening wrapped up with professional poet Doris Daley from Fort McLeoad who told the crowd how she was the average girl, which meant “it takes me 18 seconds just to swing my leg over the horse, I don’t sparkle or dazzle, I’m just pleased to live out west where I get to wear the clothes and no one wants me to work.”