Cowboy gathering celebrates Wyoming statehood, ranch traditions


Recognition of lifelong ranchers, a celebration of 125 years of Wyoming Statehood, and the local induction of individuals in the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame are highlight events for the 13th Annual Grand Encampment Cowboy Gathering slated for July 17-19 in Encampment, Wyoming.

An Open Mic performance of cowboy music and poetry kicks off the gathering on Friday, July 17 at the Grand View Park at 7 p.m. Afterward, people will move to the Grand Encampment Opera House for a family dance to the music of Sam Platts and The Kootenai Three.

Dutch oven cooks begin making the main dish, dessert and bread at the cook-off July 18 with the free afternoon concert that will also include recognition of Ray Weber, Tim Barkhurst, Ron Garretson and the late Frank Carroll as members of the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame. To celebrate the Wyoming quasquiscentennial, the Encampment Community Choir will be singing the original Wyoming state song, which was written by Encampment residents C. E. Winter and Earl Clemens and a birthday cake will be served.

Key performers for the gathering include Dave and Tris Munsick, who will share their brand of cowboy music during an afternoon performance at the Grand View Park beginning at noon on Saturday July 18. They will also headline a concert at the Encampment High School that same evening. Also on stage Saturday afternoon are Jim Jones, Doug Figgs, Daron Little, Caitlyn Taussig, Ken Kreusel, Steve Moulton, Doc Mehl, cowboy poet Thatch Elmer and others.

The evening program on July 18 features Sam Platts and The Kootenai Three, Thatch Elmer and Dave and Tris Munsick with Daron Little to host the show. Tickets for this show will be available at the door; all other performance events are free.

Life-long ranchers in the Little Snake River Valley, Ray and Kathleen Weber, will be recognized with the Gathering’s Pioneer Award. Linda Fleming provided this life sketch.

Ray Weber and Kathleen Sheehan Weber have spent their entire lives ranching, as did their grandparents. Their heritage includes the pioneers that dug the first large irrigation canals and closed out the era of the open range for cattle in the Valley.

Before their retirement from active ranching seven years ago, the Webers raised Angus cattle on their ranch and were enrolled in the Angus Source Program. They now lease their ranch lands. They live on their family ranch.

The Webers developed their ranch in many ways. They increased the carrying capacity of the range through new and longtime proven management methods, developed water on the range lands, cleared more lands for hay production and worked cooperatively with the natural gas development on their grazing permits and their private lands in at least two of the energy cycles.

Both Ray and Kathleen graduated from the high school in Baggs. Ray was a charter member of the Little Snake River FFA chapter. This year they were named to a Super Honorary Membership in the local FFA Chapter.

After high school they both attended and graduated from the University of Wyoming. Ray studied agriculture and Kathleen study medical technology. Kathleen’s interest and skills in medicine and immune systems was a very valuable asset in their ranching operations. After Ray graduated from UW he enlisted in the Army and served in Germany. After military service, Ray returned to the family ranch. Kathleen graduated from UW with her Master’s Degree and then she worked at a hospital in Denver for several years.

Ray and Kathleen were married in 1971 and moved to their home on the ranch at Baggs. They have enjoyed all the aspects of ranching from their daily work schedules, to the recreational activities associated with ranching. Ray has competed in rodeos in bareback riding and roping events and still enjoys roping contests. He had cutter race teams and was a driver. Ray enjoyed training good ranch horses and often placed first in the Carbon County Working Horse contest.

Kathleen “worked outside” as the saying goes with the daily ranch work. She would prepare a lunch to be taken to the branding corrals, saddle a horse and ride all day gathering and scattering the cattle at the brandings and return home to put an evening meal on the table. Kathleen worked with the Carbon County Stockgrowers as an officer and as a volunteer at the county fair.

The Webers have been recognized as featured members of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. They have been selected for the Green River Region Landowners of the Year by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and recognized by other conservation groups. They were named the 2013 Carbon County Fair Marshalls. Kathleen served on the Carbon County Weed and Pest Board for many years. Ray served on the Board of Directors for the Bank of Commerce.


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