Mesquite Poets' History

During the fall of 2006, the late Lowell E. “Butch” Burkholder offered a workshop in writing and reciting cowboy poetry at the Mesquite Fine Arts Center, sponsored by Virign Valley Artists Association.  It formed to give local people an opportunity to learn to write their own verse.   About a dozen people showed up and that number, more or less, followed for many years.  Butch Burkholder, Don Sims and Lee Kimberlin were on hand, along with Butch’s friend, Sam Jackson, a noted cowboy poet from Kanab, UT, to help the whole group get started in writing.  Butch wanted “true” rhymes, not “close” rhymes.  He said they should write their own poetry, not recite anyone else’s.   

Butch, a soft-spoken, witty, humble, man, who wasn’t even a cowboy and seldom rode horses, said the group should put on a Hootenanny program.

The first Cowboy Poetry Hootenanny was presented on Saturday, April 7, 2007.  Butch MC’d the show at the newly remodeled Mesquite Community Theatre, after which that venue served as the location for future shows.  Smoke Wade, another poet, with a seasonal home in Mesquite, joined in with all the poets, reciting poems and telling stories.  There was also sing-along music accompanied by guitar pickers from Overton and Logandale, Nevada, and line dancers for entertainment.  Butch led the group for about 18 months, before passing away.  A fine, specially made wooden lectern was built in Butch’s honor and is still used today in shows at the theatre.  A theatre seat is also dedicated in his name.  

 Butch’s good friend, Harlo Birkholz, took over for Butch.  Harlo allowed poets to recite other authors’ works, and for those who could not memorize, to read others’ works.  That opened the way for more people to participate.  

Through the years new poets joined the group, while others moved on.  Several members of the group have taken turns in leading and directing the production of the annual show.  In 2011 the show evolved from the Cowboy Hootenanny to the Mesquite Western Roundup.  It is now sponsored by the Mesquite Arts Council and held every February at the Mesquite Community Theater for a matinee and an evening show.

The desire to preserve the tradition of the cowboy west lives on in the Mesquite Western Roundup.  It has built up a loyal audience inside and outside the community who enjoy being involved with quality western music and cowboy poetry.
Some of the past performers are shown in the following link.  There is limited data on some of them.
Past Performers