ELKO – This year, attendees to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering won’t have to wander far to buy western style merchandise.

The Western Folklife Center will host its own Western Mercantile in the Elko Conference Center. This is the first year the organization will sponsor an area for vendors to sell their wares. The board decided to host the show “to give merchandise vendors a venue to market their products in a location right in the middle of all the action at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering,” said Western Folklife Center CFO Lucy Tomera-Miller.

“There will be music and poetry performances going on in the venue, creating a synergy of Gathering activity,” she said. “The Western Folklife Center is endeavoring to make this a yearly Mercantile for vendors to participate in and a focal point for Gathering attendees to look forward to as a shopping experience each year.”

Western Folklife Center Executive Director David Roche said the expansion of the events programming was “a no-brainer.”

“By moving what used to be the Flagview music stage to the Conference Center as well, we hope to create a dynamic new non-stop music and mercantile venue for the Gathering crowds,” he said. “More crowds equals more for everyone who benefits in town directly or indirectly from the 32-year history of the Gathering bringing artists and fans to Elko from across the West. As Cooperstown is to baseball, so is Elko to cowboy poetry.”

The Folklife Center hired Nancie Carlson as the show manager to find vendors for the mercantile.

The merchandise will vary from artwork to saddles to jewelry from 12 vendors.

Valerie Coe of Alturas, California, will have her watercolors and prints on display. Her work has a western theme of the Great Basin, cattlemen and dogs.

“She’s a really good person that has come to Elko a lot for Poetry Gatherings,” Carlson said. “We’ve done a little bit of her artwork in the Folklife store.”

The Mercantile will also feature wildlife photography from Pat and Ken Snider from Grenada, California. They also make wood frames, clocks, signs and buckle boxes out of old barn wood and vases out of fence posts. Their business is called Wild Wind Rustics.

“We have a gal coming out of Texas (Melinda Horn),” Carlson said. “She does sterling silver, copper and brass, all engraved bracelets and beautiful stuff.”

Horn’s business is Bunkhouse Studios.

A store out of Reno, Triggers Boutique, has “cowgirl chic,” which is a vintage look in clothing, boots, shirts and jewelry.

Stitching Horse Ranch from Walker, California, will have leatherwork and hide-covered boxes.

Bara Buffalo Hide and Bill Running Fisher of Dodson, Montana, will be selling Native American arts, beadwork and crafts.

Popes Fine Leather Goods from Elk Ridge, Utah, will feature saddles, chaps, as well as deer and elk horn with the leather goods.

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Joyce Creations from Homedale, Idaho, will have handmade blankets, rugs, pajamas, cinches, lariat art and other items.

Chaz Mitchell of Custom Hats from Newcastle, Utah, will be able to fit people for headgear. His father Waddie Mitchell will be assisting.

Naomi’s Photos out of Bridger, Montana, will have photos, and handmade bags, greeting cards and other items.

The Western Mercantile will be from 3-6:30 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday in the lobby of the Elko Conference Center.

The Western Folklife Center also will have membership services set up at the Mercantile.

Carlson said she hopes the Western Mercantile will continue and grow larger.

“That’s why we’re working on it, to get it out there and do a really good job,” she said.

She said the event has room to expand, so if local businesses want a booth they can call her at 707-292-8225 or email nanciebenson@aol.com.

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