BY JENNIFFER WARDELL
Islander Staff Writer
ANTELOPE ISLAND — It’s a chance to step into the Old West.
This year’s Cowboy Legends Poetry and Music Festival, set for May 24-26 on Antelope Island, celebrates the cowboys’ vanishing way of life. Music and poetry combine with a potluck dinner, wagon rides and contests, all of which benefit the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
“It’s a great opportunity to experience the cowboy way of life and help out a good cause,” said organizer Lisa Stubblefield. “The music and poetry help us keep our heritage alive.”
The festival starts Friday at 6 p.m. with a dinner show, which will be held on Saturday. Musicians and Cowboy poets will perform throughout the festival on three stages. The festival will be held in and around Fielding Garr Ranch, located on the east side of the island.
The Utah Western Heritage Foundation will offer wagon rides in period-appropriate wagons, including carriages, covered wagons and buckboard-style ranch wagons.
Visitors can also vote for their favorite cowboy hat in the Ugly Hat Contest, where people can choose their favorites by dropping a donation in the corresponding jar. At the end of the festival, the hats will be auctioned off.
“Paul Bliss (from the Utah Western Heritage Foundation) called me and said ‘Everyone has old hats laying around,’” said Stubblefield. “‘Let’s auction them off.’”
Sunday begins with Cowboy Church, held at 9 a.m. in the ranch’s barn. Everyone is welcome to the non-denominational service.
“It’s all done with song and poetry,” said Stubblefield. “It’s very spiritual.”
That night, dinner will be held potluck-style around a campfire. Everyone is welcome to bring a dish, mingle with the performers and enjoy an evening under the stars.
“We roast marshmallows, sing songs and have a great evening,” said Stubblefield. “It’s so much fun.”
For some guests, a night around the campfire is a brand-new experience.
“We’ve had kids out there who have never roasted a marshmallow,” she said. “I can’t imagine it.”
Those kind of opportunities, however, may eventually disappear. Organizers had trouble finding sponsors for this year’s festival, and it was only through the support of Antelope Island State Park that the event was possible.
“It’s been tough,” Stubblefield said.
Admission to the island costs $9 per vehicle. Overnight camping is $15 per night, and spaces are first come, first served.
For more information on the event or how to sponsor, call Stubblefield at 801-725-4866.
“Just think of it as a staycation,” said Stubblefield. “It’s a good way to have fun close to home.”