It started as a way to combat cabin fever. You know, give folks something to do when the winter winds are blowing off the Cascades.

But since its origins, it’s turned into a real gathering, a cowboy gathering and the Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering is headed into its 16th year this weekend at venues throughout the downtown and at the Kittitas Valley Event Center. There will be a variety of food, music and poetry, vendors and family activities for all ages.

“There will be a lot of workshops and demonstrations, like pioneer basket weaving and painting,” said committee member Roylene Crawford. “We decided to have everything at the event center this year.

“It started as something to do to honor a cowboy way of life. It’s a different kind of festival and it just took off.”

Everything gets going at 10 a.m. on Friday when the gear show vendors get set up at Teanaway Hall over at the Kittitas Valley Event Center. Friday’s action will include the Kids Corral and Rodeo fun at Umtanum Hall, open mic and music and poetry and of course the free downtown venues will feature music and poetry at the Rodeo City Bar-B-Q, Blue Rock Saloon, Fitterer’s Furniture, the Western Culture and Art Center. Downtown venues are from 2 to 6 p.m. on Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

“There will be two free concerts on Saturday and Sunday,” Crawford said. “The doors open at 6 p.m. on Saturday for Barbara Nelson, Doris Daley and Eli Barsi.

“On Sunday, Doc Mehl, Doris Daley, Eli Barsi and Vanessa Carpenter play at Umtanum Hall, beginning at 12:30 p.m.”

The event truly is in the Spirit of the West and the workshops will keep the spirit of the west and Native ways a live. Some of the activities include:

n Painting with watercolors: Local artists will be demonstrating the use of watercolors. Paper and paints will be available for those that would like to try their hand at the creative side.

n Pine needle basket weaving: Local basket weavers will display award-winning, handmade baskets and demonstrate how this age-old craft is done.

n Wood carving: Learn about wood selection and different techniques from local carvers, who are more than happy to answer questions.

n Women in ranching: Meet members of the Kittitas County Cattle Women’s Association and hear their mission to promote the cattle industry in the valley. Learn about ranching, both past and present, as well as agribusiness.

There will also be the history of sheep ranching, blacksmithing and spinners, weavers and knitting demonstrations.

Tickets and schedule information is available at http://www.ellensburgcowboygathering.com.

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