The 2018 Kansas Cowboy Poetry Contest is almost here!

Cowboy Poets 1 2018 with governor - Copy.jpg

Members of our Kansas chapter of the Western Music Association and Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer display the Governor's Buckle which is presented to the Kansas Cowboy Poetry Contest winners.
(L-R) Martha and Jim Farrell, Brad Hamilton, Governor Jeff Colyer, Ron Wilson, Jeff Davidson, Geff Dawson, and Assistant Secretary for Parks & Tourism Linda Craghead.



Anyone is welcome to enter. Contestants can write and present a serious poem, a humorous poem, or both.  They must present their original cowboy poetry at one of our two regional contests:

            Friday, April 27 – 7 p.m. - Ellsworth

            Friday, May 11 – 7 p.m. - Fredonia


The top four contestants at each contest win the opportunity to compete at the state finals:

 Friday June 8 – 7 p.m. - Flint Hills Discovery Center, Manhattan


 To enter, fill out and send this entry form with payment.   (click here for entry form)

 Mail before April 20 to qualify for an early bird discount!

 Entry fees are listed on the form.  The public is invited and encouraged to attend any contest at no charge.

 State winners in both the serious and humorous categories receive the coveted Governor’s trophy buckle, the Saddlejack Bradrick award, prizes and discounts to leading western wear stores, more opportunities to perform, a year’s free membership in the Kansas Chapter of the Western Music Association, and two tickets to the Symphony in the Flint Hills.

 State winners will also have their entry fees paid to participate in the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo.  (Note:  It is not necessary to win the state contest in order to enter and compete in the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo.  Anyone can enter and compete in the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo directly and is encouraged to do so, but the Kansas winners will have their entry fees paid by the Kansas contest.)

Thanks to these sponsors of our contest in 2017:  Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation, Boot Barn, Kansas Chapter – Western Music Association, Putnam Quarter Horses, R Bar B, Roberts Cowboy Outfitters, and Vanderbilt’s Western Wear.



1)    to encourage and develop the art and practice of cowboy poetry

2)    to expand outreach in support of this unique form of art and folklore, and

3)    to support local grassroots events which can promote cowboy poetry and benefit the local economy.

A performer can enter a poem in either the Serious or Humorous category or both.  Only original work is accepted for the contest.  Contestants must be present to perform their own work in person.

Criteria for judging are as follows.  At each contest, several judges are asked to individually rank performers  based on the following factors with a maximum of 10 points apiece:  1.  Quality -  the technical quality of the poem itself. i.e., the rhyme and meter of the poem - does it rhyme well, does it flow/meter well?  2. Theme - is it truly cowboy/western?  Or just general in topic?  and 3. Presentation – delivery of the poem - effective stage presence, polish of the performer, etc.  A perfect score would be a total of 30 points.  Ties are broken based on the scores in the Quality category.

There is no time limit on the poems.  One does not need to be a Kansan to enter and participate.  Immediately before each contest, a contestants meeting will be held where the contestants will draw cards to determine the sequence of performance.


Questions?  Email contest chair Ron Wilson at