"The entire event is meant to celebrate the music, food and poetry of the West and of the cowboy," said Tara Currier, the Booth museum's director of marketing. "So certainly [the music] was important. As the cowboys were traveling out West, they would sit around the campfire at night and recite poetry and play their guitars and sing music to pass time. So it's very important to the West and what was happening as our expansion headed that way. So it's just a celebration of what they had to offer and what they were doing. And we're very excited to welcome Marty Stuart. He's a four-time Grammy-award winner, very well-known, has his own show [on RFD-TV]. It's going to be a big draw. We've already sold many, many tickets so we encourage anyone who's interested to hurry up and get those because we are expecting a sellout for that concert.
"[Also] new this year -- going back to the music and the poetry -- Fairplay Cattle Co., which has had a chuck wagon on the grounds for many of the years that we've had this Cowboy Gathering, they're going to be doing their own music and poetry Friday evening on the grounds of the festival and that is going to be no charge. ... So that will be truly unique in that people can just gather around the chuck wagon and really get a feel for how it was when [the cowboys] were traveling out West. So that will be a really fun, new edition this year."
The four-day offering, which will begin March 8, is expected to draw about 3,000 people to Cartersville. In addition to musical performances, the Southeastern Cowboy Gathering will feature numerous activities that are designed to highlight the old West. The event's programs, such as the Southeastern Chuck Wagon Cook-off, Dutch Oven Cooking Contest, Horse Shoe Tournament, Cowboy Church and children's activities, will be conducted inside and on the grounds of the Booth museum, 501 Museum Drive in Cartersville.
"The purpose [of the Southeastern Cowboy Gathering] is similar to some of these other weekend events that we do in that we hope to bring the artwork and museum to life for people, particularly for this event that includes our two cooking contests: the chuck wagon contest on Saturday and the Dutch oven contest on Sunday," said Booth Western Art Museum Executive Director Seth Hopkins. "There are a number of pieces of art in the museum that depict chuck wagons or cooking or survival skills out on the open plains and this is one of the ways we can bring that to life.
"We also have our Youth Writing Through Art Contest finals, which includes the Cowboy Poetry contest which is always very popular and that's another way that the collections are [highlighted] is through the reciting of cowboy poetry. So those are the unique things about this particular weekend that support an overall desire to give people an idea to understand what's going on in the painting and the sculpture in the museum."
The Southeastern Cowboy Gathering also will provide participants with a chance to view two new exhibits: "The Iconic West of R. Tom Gilleon" and "American Legacy: Our National Parks, On Location with the Plein-Air Painters of America." Patrons will have ample opportunities to meet Gilleon, the Southeastern Cowboy Gathering's featured artist, on March 8. After leading the public on a gallery walk of his exhibition at 4 p.m., a reception will be held in his honor from 5 to 7 p.m. Then he will close out the first day of the gathering with a lecture in the Booth Theatre at 7 p.m.
"[Tom Gilleon] was an illustrator early on," Hopkins said. "He studied architecture at the University of Florida, then worked on the Apollo space program through NASA as a technical illustrator. He later went to work for the Disney Corp. and helped design Walt Disney World. But he went with his wife to take a painting workshop for fun in Montana and he fell in love with both studio easel painting and with Montana itself. And they wound up buying a ranch near Great Falls, Mont., and have lived there ever since.
"He's probably best known for his translucent tepee paintings. They often have like a fire going inside the tepee. It just seems to glow and illuminates the decorations on the tepee. That's what he's best known for but he certainly does a lot of other things and that's what we want to showcase in the exhibition is just really the range of his subjects."
For a complete schedule of the Southeastern Cowboy Gathering and event fees, call 770-387-1300 or view www.boothmuseum.org.