“The Chisholm Trail.” The name evokes cattle and cowboys, independence and daring, the frontier and the wild, wild West. All those things are part of the history of the Chisholm Trail, which will honor its 150th anniversary beginning with a celebration in the town where it really all began: Abilene. This is today’s Kansas Profile.
Michael Hook is an events coordinator for the City of Abilene. He is from Kansas City but grew up in Texas where he became a western history buff. “Davy Crockett was my hero,” Michael said. A business career took him around the Midwest but he became interested in possibly teaching history.
“I stumbled upon Abilene, and it’s everything you would ever want,” Michael said. He moved to Abilene, met his wife, studied local history and became the coordinator for a landmark series of events marking the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Chisholm Trail.
The rodeo is coming to town! But this isn’t a competition of riding bulls or roping calves. This competition takes the form of rhyming words. For the first time ever, the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo is coming to Kansas.
Geff Dawson is the new organizer of this event, which he is bringing to Kansas for the first time. Geff grew up at Abilene, where he was always around horses and rodeos. After studying at K-State, he and his wife Dawn bought a place in rural Wabaunsee County north of Alma, population 785 people. Now, that’s rural. Geff worked at the Aye Ranch for a time and now manages the Illinois Creek Ranch.
Like me, Geff is a cowboy poet. Like me, it was not something he planned to do.
“I’d come home from work at the ranch and tell my wife about something funny that happened that day,” Geff said. “She’d say, `You ought to write that down.’”
He wasn’t very quick to take the time to write those things down, but one day when he did sit down to record the day’s events, he tried to write in rhyme. He found it was a fun way to tell a story. Geff became a cowboy poet.
Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University writes Kansas Profile. The weekly posts highlight individuals or companies in rural Kansas who are making a difference to their community and state.
The Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development is a public / private partnership between Kansas State University and the Huck Boyd Foundation. The mission of the institute is to help rural people help themselves. Learn more at www.huckboydinstitute.org.