Cowpoke Fall Gathering celebrates 24 years of cowboy poetry

Brauns not retiring; Kristyn Harris headlines music program
By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Music sometimes takes a backseat to poetry at the annual Cowpoke Fall Gathering in Loomis, but this year, the featured performer was Kristyn Harris, an “American Idol” contestant and winner of many western music awards.

Harris, 24, was named the Western Music Association Entertainer of the Year in 2016 and 2017. Harris appeared on “American Idol” in March and yodeled but did not crack the top 20. “(‘American Idol’) was nothing like (the Cowpoke Fall Gathering),” Harris said Saturday. “I mostly perform at events like this where they appreciate my style of music.”

“The Cowpoke Fall Gathering is one of the best audiences a performer could ask for,” Harris added. “They were so receptive and it was a packed house. I had so much fun Friday. I absolutely will be back.”

Harris, at the age of 14 picked up a guitar and decided to learn to yodel.

“I thought it was such a happy sound. I did it all the time,” Harris said. “There is no set formula on learning to yodel. I learned by listening to recordings of yodelers and practicing. Basically, it’s finding where your voice breaks and then moving your tongue really fast.”

Harris said one of the first songs she wrote was called “Yodel Fever” and “Cowboy Sweetheart” was a yodeling song she performed on “American Idol.” Her song, “Acres of Nowhere,” is in protest to suburbs encroaching on where she lives.

“I grew up in a rural part of Texas, outside of the city,” Harris said. “Now a bunch of people are moving to where I live and building subdivisions.”

Carol Braun, who, with her husband, Bert, founded the Cowpoke Fall Gathering in Loomis, said rumors of their retirement are premature.

“Yes, we will be back next year and we already have some of the entertainers booked,” Carol Braun said. “This year was a success. Every night was sold out and that’s a good thing.”

“The numbers aren’t crunched yet so we’re not sure how much money will be going to each charity,” Carol Braun said. “The charities this year are Wellness Within; the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund, South Placer Heritage Foundation and Ride to Walk. We also passed a hat (Sunday), matched the amount and gave it to the Penryn Fire Station for the victims of the Camp Fire.”

Poet Wallace McRae announced his performance at the Cowpoke Fall Gathering would be his last time on stage.

“I always learn something when I come to one of these,” McRae said. “This time, I learned the pronunciation of coyote depends on if you need two or three syllables for your poem.”

Bert Braun praised the volunteers who help put the Cowpoke Fall Gathering on every year, especially those who help with the student poetry program.

“Marti Schulze has expanded our student program every year,” Bert Braun said, of the annual free Saturday event. “She gets in front of 800 students with Larry Maurice. He teaches the students the jargon of cowboys and how to write a little poem.”

Performers Dave Stamey, Randy Rieman and Michael Reno Harrell have confirmed for next year’s Cowpoke Fall Gathering, according to Carol Braun.