Cowboy Rudy: Real cowboys rope in some fun 

The 16th Idaho State Cowboy Gathering promises to entertain young and old alike with music, stories, poetry and plenty of belly laughs. "We put the real cowboy back in cowboy entertainment," said cowboy Rudy Gonzales, the show's headliner.

"I'll teach everyone to yodel," Gonzales continued. "And that's pretty good because I can't yodel. A man must have hurt himself awful bad to make those sounds." He'll also teach the audience how to mosey. In between, he'll recite original and traditional cowboy poetry, sing old cowboy songs and probably tell a few jokes, too.

The daytime and evening performances showcase some of the best cowboy and cowgirl entertainers from Idaho and across the range. According to Gonzales, the evening shows will be the "fastest two hours you'll ever experience, because they're fun!"

Entertainers include Wayne Gardner, a Native American flute player, storyteller, and Ute Indian song singer; Laura Edwards, a singer and bluegrass stand-up bass and fiddle player; "Barbed Wire" Ben Aitken, a cowboy poet and storyteller; and the Reddington High Strung Band, a family outfit known for old time cowboy classics.

The Cowboy Gathering takes place Memorial Day weekend. The daytime programs run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and cost just $5. The feature shows at 7 and 9 p.m. cost $10. "We make this affordable and we use the income to help the entertainers come to town," Gonzales said.

One of the primary goals of the Cowboy Gathering is to recognize the talents of people from the agriculture community-not people in cowboy hats who've never been on a dirt road. "It's a gathering of cowboy entertainers," Gonzales explained. Most of the performers live the cowboy life. He further emphasized the music is not country and western. "It's cowboy music," he said. "It's singing about the horses, the cattle, the ranch, the cowboy way."

Gonzales was born in Colorado and worked for many years as a rancher, horse trainer and farrier (a person who makes and fits horseshoes). He now operates a cattle and horse ranch outside Boise. Recognized as "Idaho's Official Cowboy Entertainer," he has been delighting audiences for more than 20 years. He's entertained people all across the United States, including politicians such as Gerald Ford. About five years ago, Gonzales performed at the Kennedy Center in New York City and become the first cowboy in history to take that stage. In 2003, The National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration honored him with the American Cowboy Culture Award in Lubbock, Texas. There's also a picture of him carrying a Black Angus calf in the recent book Idaho 24/7.

"Let's not overlook the Cowboy Church," Gonzales said. "It's an interfaith get-together. Cowboys sing the old gospel tunes." The event will be followed by a free Idaho Spud Bake and a major jam session.

The Cowboy Gathering "is a wonderful, fun program," said Gonzales. "We keep it fun and clean. It's real cowboy."

Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., $5 two-day pass, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., $10 for each feature show, Nampa Civic Center. Sunday, 11 a.m., FREE, Nampa Civic Center.

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