Each year thousands of diverse people descend on Elko for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Amongst the talented performers, the excited audience members and the frantic volunteers are a chosen few members of the nation’s and the world’s press corps — all in town to capture the unique stories that are part of this annual event.
Hidden away in an upstairs room at the Convention Center — pseudo-sister’s Darcy and Lora Minter (no we’re not related — just one of those weird coincidences) — work with newspaper and magazine journalists, film makers, radio show hosts, television crews and photographers who come to town in search of hidden insights into cowboy poets and musicians.
Our job is to overview for reporters all the opportunities the Gathering brings for education, entertainment and collaboration. We arrange interviews, provide background information, guide reporters to unique stories and solve a lot of problems behind the scenes. That job takes us to some interesting places. We might huddle on top of the Western Folklife Center in the snow while a photographer aims a long lens off the roof. We might track down a sound man for an odd metal fitting to connect a National Public Radio reporter into a sound board. We might carry a camera for a NBC crew. The job is varied, sometimes stressful and ALWAYS interesting! Along the way we encounter some great people who are deeply interested in learning about Western life and who wonder about the future of the culture in a rapidly changing, modern world.
Often the working journalists that hail from big cities arrive with preconceptions about small town citizens and rural inconveniences. The majority leave at the end of a hectic several days, amazed at what they have heard and seen, exhausted from way-too-late nights and many early mornings, and more knowledgeable of a lifestyle they’ve come to respect. Almost always they remark on how friendly everyone was. The Gathering provides an opportunity to educate the world about cowboy culture, the West, and a little town called Elko — all through the stories these working professionals release out into the wide world. We’re happy to be a small part of spreading the word. We couldn’t do it without our media guests who come to learn — or the wonderful local newspaper, television and radio reporters who share their stories with all of us.
Darcy Minter and Lora Minter (from the press office)