Attendance may have been down from last year, but the Bunkhouse Bonanza organized by the Stockmen's Memorial Foundation continued to offer a feast of Western art and culture on Jan. 18 and 20.
"It's always great to gather a cross section of different artists to highlight the many forms of Western art, whether it be a blacksmith or a silversmith or a painter or a poet, all those forms of Western art," says Scott Grattidge, executive director of the Stockmen's.
He walks us through some of the highlights of the sophomore Bonanza.
They included the Jan. 18 event that was exclusively for student.
"It's always great to have the students here," he says. "We had a lot of interactive displays and booths and activities, so the students really got a hands-on experience and interact."
Grattidge got to hear a performance by the Travelling Mabels for the first time, and says they lived up to their billing.
"I was amazed at just how talented they are. They provided a great show along with the other entertainers that we had. Doug Rowling was here, who's been here past years, and we had a selection of cowboy poets. Then we had the Smalleyes family performing indigenous drumming and dancing. Together, they gave some very entertaining concerts."
The Ladies Livestock Lessons offered by the Red Bowl Agricultural on Jan. 19 was sold out. The organization holds two big conferences annually, and they wanted one of them to be in Cochrane.
"We were able to combine it with our event so they could have their conference and have guest speakers, but also have a Western history flair to their event."
The Stockmen's arranged for Candice King, of Tandy Leather, to provide an introduction to the intricacies of leathercrafting, plus they hosted a talk on the history of the West from a lady's perspective.
Grattidge says they were fortunate to receive support for the event from Cochrane Home Treasures, Bow's Edge Campground Society, Cochrane Lions Club, and the Town of Cochrane to make it possible.
The Stockmen's board is currently evaluating the outcome of the event and determining what direction to take next year.
"We do have to reevaluate and make sure that we can keep doing it because it does cost us a bit of money to put it on every year," says Grattidge. "We'll be evaluated and chat about it for the weeks ahead on how we could tweak it if we do it again, what's the best time of year, what do we keep and what do we change, and how do we make it fiscally viable if we want to keep it going year-after-year."