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The Observer

Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering kicks off Friday

Tai Jackson, Staff Reporter

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Downtown Ellensburg will be filled with friends and families during the free 14th Annual Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering during President’s Day weekend, Feb. 16-18.

There will be live performances, events for children, dancing, cowboy church, fiddle contests, workshops, gatherings, demonstrations, music and poetry, art shows and other kinds of rodeo fun. Most events will be held throughout various locations in downtown Ellensburg, the Kittitas Valley Events Center and the CWU campus.

Manager of Mac-A-Bee Amber Braack, talked about how her business will be a part of the Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering Art Show. Known for their items of Western and Southwestern home décor, textiles, hides and Native American jewelry, Braack explained that this is their 25th year in business and their fifth year participating in the art show. She explained that it doesn’t take them long to prepare for this event. Braack has a routine that she follows which makes setting up and taking down her booth manageable.

“My favorite part is seeing all my customers, the new and returning ones. It helps bring in new clientele and reminds others that we’re still here,” Braack said.

Amy McGuffin, President of the Spirit of the West Committee, explained that being the president of the committee, requires a planning process that begins about a year prior to the actual event. Her position is to maintain and follow through with getting the venues, performances, workshops, as well as other details for the event taken care of, such as budget, marketing and more.

“The gathering is a celebration of music, art, [and] lifestyle, while bringing homage to the way of life out west. For me, it resides the ethics of cowboys and tradition. It is a festival that’s basically dedicated to remembering all of that,” McGuffin said.

During the gathering, 15 live performances will take place throughout downtown like Paul Wilson, Andy Bales and Barbara Nelson.

Three headliners, Wylie and the Wild West, Trinity Seely, and Chris Isaacs will also be performing. Each performer will demonstrate their unique talents ranging from yodeling and poetry to singing and songwriting.

Performances, workshops, art galleries and more will be scattered about downtown at different locations. Open to families to enjoy, some of the venues include Kittitas Valley Event Center, CWU Music Building,  Blue Rock Saloon, Clymer Museum and Gallery, Gard Vintners, Rodeo City Bar-B-Q and Pine Street Mall.

Some workshops include painting with watercolors, pine needle basket weaving, wood carving, women-in-ranching, history of sheep ranching in Kittitas County, Kittitas County Historical Museum, blacksmithing, spinners, and weavers’ and knitters’ workshops.

A kid’s music time called Lil’ Buckaroos will be held at the Kittitas Valley Event Center on both Friday and Saturday.This event is a time for kids to sing along with the performers and learn different western songs. There will also be a children’s rodeo where kids will learn how to lasso and play the part of a real cowboy or cowgirl.

An open mic night event sponsored by the Columbia River Cowboy Heritage Society will be held on Friday, Feb. 16 from 1-3 p.m. and Saturday the 17 from 12:30-3p.m. Sign-ups for these events begin about an hour before each session and the signup sheet is located in front of Umtanum Hall.

Carol Monahan, owner of Sunset Silver, explained that she has been in business for about 16 years and this is her first time participating in the Spirit of the West. Sunset Silver sells southwestern gemstone jewelry, western apparel, tack, handmade leather wallets and other small items.

“I’m looking forward to selling a lot of merchandise and seeing all the different people,” Monahan said.

With all the fun activities waiting for families to enjoy, the Spirit of the West is a time where people can relive the ideas, sounds and sights of the old west.  

To see the full schedule go to the


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Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering kicks off Friday