Charles Williams tells the tale of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ during the Campfire Stories program at the Fort Worth Stock Show, including quoting the fourth verse of the song. Bob Booth Special to the Star-Telegram
Charles Williams tells the tale of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ during the Campfire Stories program at the Fort Worth Stock Show, including quoting the fourth verse of the song. Bob Booth Special to the Star-Telegram

Fort Worth Stock Show

Cowboy poets tickle Stock Show crowds with wit, wisdom

By Shirley Jinkins

Special to the Star-Telegram

January 24, 2017 05:31 PM

UPDATED January 24, 2017 05:49 PM

FORT WORTH

It doesn’t take a lot of sagebrush in your soul to feel a little tickle at one of Dale “Sourdough” Myres’ tall tales, or admiration as Leah Sawyer plays her fiddle from a sitting position because her horse threw her about a month ago.

It’s the lore of Texas, and it’s all part of the Texas Cowboy Poets Association’s Campfire Stories series that concludes Wednesday at the Fort Worth Stock Show. The entertainers will tell their stories and sing their songs at noon in the West Arena of the Richardson-Bass Building.

It’s free to attend, and if you like a twice-told tale, the entertainers have CDs for sale to keep everyone engaged on the long ride back to the ranch, or maybe just your apartment.

Self-proclaimed storyteller-poet Charles Williams started his show with a history lesson about the Star-Spangled Banner.

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“I started this thing about 21 years ago,” the Dallas resident said after the show. “We had about four hours of entertainment, which was Western swing at the end. We’ve always had poets, music, and we haven’t changed format a lot.”

‘Great place to play’

Many of the entertainers have regular Sunday afternoon sessions at the Cowtown Opry in the Livestock Exchange Building in the Fort Worth Stockyards, said Devon Dawson of North Richland Hills. She is known far and wide for being the voice of Jessie in the “Toy Story” movies.

People who perform here, do it because they love it, and it shows. It’s a great audience and a great place to play.

Devon Dawson of North Richland Hills and the voice of Jessie in the “Toy Story” movies

“People who perform here, do it because they love it, and it shows,” she said of the Stock Show sets. “It’s a great audience and a great place to play.”

Some of the stories are authentic old-timey tales handed down through families and friends; others are new verse and prose that the self-styled poets come up with in the course of their lives.

Greg Bade, a lanky cowboy poet from Poolville as well as publisher of the online Poolville Post, read his poems about loneliness on the trail, memorable horses and lives well-lived, off sheets of notebook paper.

Most of the fun is, of course, in the style of the telling.

“Being Texan, we like to embellish all our stories,” said “Sourdough” Myres of Fort Worth.

‘For the camaraderie’

Some of Myres’ real-life stories are downright frightening.

The master plumber by trade worked several years in Iraq and Afghanistan, but said he decided to come home to his Western roots (he’s a fifth generation Texan) when an Afghan guard at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul tried to stab him.

“That was it for me,” he said.

Geoff Mackay, better known as cowboy poet, preacher and storyteller “Poppa Mac,” has made the trip every year for the last four years to the Stock Show from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

His “Fallen But Forgiven” ministry gets a wide audience on the cowboy church circuit, rodeos, cowboy gatherings and roundups.

“I come to see my friends that I only get to see a few times a year,” he said. “ I come for the camaraderie.”

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pmoseley@star-telegram.com