Cowboy Poetry Coming to Heritage Center


Ranch Deputy at His Camp

Laura Riding Jackson Foundation announces “ Cowboy Poetry” as the headliner for its 9th Annual Poetry and Barbecue on Sunday April 7 at the Vero Beach Heritage Center. This event coincides during National Poetry Month and provides our community an opportunity to hear nationally renowned writers present their poetry and celebrate the Arts, with a Sunday afternoon barbecue and live music.

Our April 7th Annual Event program will be entirely focused on Cowboy Poetry by popular request. The event features three poets and friends from the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV: Andy Hedges, of Lubbock, and Joel Nelson, from Alpine, Texas, and Randy Reiman, from Cascade, Montana, all headliners at the gathering who also give performances throughout the West each year. Joel and Randy will conduct a Teen Writer’s Workshop on Poetry Performance,Saturday, April 6th, and we’ll provide the time for their students to present onstage during Sunday’s event. An adult poetry workshop will also be given that Saturday by poet, and educator, Don Morrill, of Tampa.

Andy Hedges is a songster, reciter and storyteller. His varied repertoire includes classic cowboy poetry recitations, obscure cowboy songs, dust bowl ballads, and blues. Andy taught himself to play the guitar when he was 14 and began collecting classic cowboy poems and traditional cowboy songs. He has released nine albums including four joint projects with songwriter Andy Wilkinson. He also hosts a podcast called Cowboy Crossroads which features interviews with poets, musicians, songwriters and historians. Andy lives in Lubbock, Texas, with his wife and children.

Joel Nelson, one of today’s most respected poets and reciters, resides in Alpine, Texas.  He is a frequent participant at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada; the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott, Arizona; the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Alpine, Texas; and other gatherings.In 1999, he was invited to Rothbury, Northumberland, as a poet-in-residence, sponsored by the Mid-Northumberland Arts Group of the United Kingdom’s Poetry Society. His CD, The Breaker in the Pen, is the only cowboy poetry recording ever nominated for a Grammy Award.

Joel Nelson has a degree in Forestry and Range Management. He served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division. He has worked as a custom saddle maker and is known for his horse training skills, which he has practiced in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Hawaii. Currently, he and his wife Sylvia raise Corriente cattle.

Master reciter Randy Rieman has performed at every one of the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gatherings since 1986 (the second gathering) and has served on the gathering’s Steering Committee. He’s been a featured performer at events across the West, including the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott, Arizona; the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Alpine, Texas; California’s Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival, and many other gatherings.  He provided the following information.Randy has made his living as a working cowboy and a horse trainer for the last 30 years. He started his cowboy career in Montana, and then moved to Nevada and California, spending several years working in each state. In 1994, he went to work for the Parker Ranch on the big island of Hawaii and spent the next nine years there starting colts and training stock horses.

Poetry and Barbeque has grown each year, drawing hundreds to the event. We’ve changed venues this year and will be downtown at the Vero Heritage Center, with the same great barbeque, music, and wine, with Orchid Island Brewery serving their excellent beer, all for a modest donation of $25.00. As a small non-profit organization with a dedicated board of volunteers, our foundation depends on your generosity to help us bring these great opportunities to our community. Each year, we offer performances, writing workshops, readings, plays, and historical and interdisciplinary literary programs for people of all ages in the belief that exposure to great art and culture will benefit and make our community one of the best places to live in the U.S.

Tickets ($25 per person) information: or 772.569.6718.


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