Cowboy poet Ken Gardner kicked off the Genoa Cowboy Festival today with the first poem he ever wrote nearly 20 years ago.
The poem, entitled “Dual Controlled Electric,” was inspired by an electric blanket.
“I had a fight with my wife over an electric blanket, so to diffuse the situation I wrote the poem for her,” the 85-year-old poet said. “It’s one of my favorites.”
The Genoa resident has performed his more than 60 original poems at cowboy events around Nevada and California, but said he enjoys performing at home.
“It’s an intimate venue and the crowds are great,” he added. “Cowboy poetry has its basis in a rich story of Western history. It started with cattle drives in the 1870s, and the modern cowboy poetry has evolved since then. I like history and the people who write it and recite it.”
The fifth annual Genoa Cowboy Festival goes through Sunday.
Performers on the main stage include Jon and Betsy Elliot, Mary Kaye & the Knaphus Girls, Cindy White, Tony Argento, Richard Elloyan and All Hat No Cattle.
There will also be a walking tour of the Genoa Cemetery, cowboy fast draw, blacksmithing, basket making and cowboy gear demonstrations as well as comedy acts and ragtime music.
Colleen Kelly of Tahoe City was looking forward to seeing McAvoy Lane portray Mark Twain this afternoon. She has attended the cowboy festival every year.
“I like the variety of things to look at, music, wonderful poetry, cast iron cooking,” she said. “I like the Western ambiance, too. It reminds me of how people lived and survived well in this environment.”
Reno resident Peggy Martin sat outside the Trimmer Outpost barn listening to The Mountain Girls perform Friday.
She and her husband attend similar festivals in Reno and Elko every year.
“I was born 100 years too late,” she said. “I should have been born when these things were a way of life. It speaks to my soul.”
Singer Mary Kaye sang with her two daughters, Millie and Sophia, in their first festival performance on the porch of Genoa Station. The trio perform in Mormon Station Park at 10:30 Sunday morning.
“This is a great festival, and it’s great it’s in its fifth year,” Mary said. “They’ve brought in world-class performers this year. What a better place to have it than in Nevada’s oldest settlement.”
Gardnerville resident and cowgirl Lee McKinney was so impressed by Hot Club of Cowtown last year, she came back this year.
“They were just great with their instruments. It was really entertaining,” she said. “The festival is taking off for this area. I feel like it’s growing and getting good performers.”
Day passes are $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 years old and younger. Evening concerts located on the main stage require a separate ticket.
For a list of events and performances, visit www.cowboypoetrygenoa.com.