Elko, Nevada may not be as glamorous as Vegas or Reno, but it is certainly a significant Nevada town in its own right. It might be known to some as a place of casinos and legal brothels, but it is also the proud home of annual festivals and rallies, and a rich cowboy history.
The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering takes place here each year, usually within the first couple months of the year. The Gathering is a weeklong event that highlights life in the rural West, featuring traditional and contemporary art by those who have devoted time to caring for livestock and land. The event attracts thousands of people from all over the country and sometimes internationally to come and experience musicians and poets and scholars and artisans. City folk, rural residents, cowboys, and cowgirls gather in attendance. In 2011 special guests from the Hungarian puszta will be sharing their horseman and cattle ranching stories through art, poetry, and music. The Western Folklife Center, which sponsors the Cowboy Poetry Gathering, also calls Elko its home. The nonprofit strives to celebrate western rural life and traditions through exhibitions, performances, workshops, and youth education programs in the region.
But Elko isn’t limited only to a celebration of cowboy life. The National Basque Festival also takes place in this community every summer, where a running of the bulls, traditional foods, wine, dancing, a strongman competition, and several other activities that commemorate Basque ties to the town of Elko. Bikers also gather here in the summer to join in the Elko Motorcycle Jamboree, also known as “Rumble in the Rubies Motorcycle Rally.” This three day event fills the town with thousands or motorcycles and riders. Vendors advertise and their latest gear and specialty merchandise while live entertainment is performed onstage.
When you come to Elko, Nevada, be prepared to enjoy a diversity of activities besides gambling; cultural events and festivals you may never experience in another place.