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Antelope Island • Wayne Nelson stood on the porch of the Fielding Garr ranch house on Saturday, singing about how his "dad burned my dad burn guitar." And he couldn't have been happier about it.

"I'm having a great time. I love it," said Nelson, a cowboy poet and former cowboy who was on Antelope Island for the 10th annual Cowboy Legends Cowboy & Music Festival. "I could never feed myself doing this, but it's just bringing awareness of the ranching culture as opposed to the shoot-'em-ups you see on TV. It serves double purpose. It brings cowboy entertainment to the Salt Lake Valley and also brings money in for the Huntsman Cancer Institute."

The event, which continues Sunday and Monday at Antelope Island State Park, raised about $6,000 for the institute a year ago; sponsorships alone brought in more than $9,000 before the event began on Friday evening, said Clay Shelley, the park curator.

"A hundred percent of what we bring in goes to the Huntsman Cancer Institute," Shelley said. Other than the $10 fee to enter the park, there's no additional fee for the festival — but you can spend your money on food, with the vendors and on wagon rides to bring in more money for the charity.

On Saturday, there were plenty of cowboy hats, and even a few bonnets, in a crowd that ranged from preschoolers to senior citizens. There's entertainment on three separate stages and activities for the children.

Like 9-year old Jack Richardson, whose family is visiting Utah from their home in Amarillo, Texas. He rather unexpectedly turned into a blacksmith, getting a chance to pound a glowing-hot nail into a souvenir with the folks from Wasatch Forge.

"That is really hot. And really fun," Richardson. "I've never done anything like that before."

The Richardsons just happened upon the cowboy poetry festival while visiting Antelope Island; other Texans made the trip a bit more intentionally. Dave Feltenberger traveled from Breckinridge, Texas, along with his horses and wagon to help with the fundraiser — rides are available throughout the day.

"The kids love it," Feltenberger said. "And when you get on [a wagon] here, everybody's a kid. Including me."

The festival features wagons from Texas, Colorado and Idaho — and a bit of a blast from Utah's past.

"How often do you get to ride in an historic wagon that our pioneer ancestors might have ridden in?" Shelley asked. "And we're at the perfect setting for this event. We're one of the oldest ranches in Utah's history. From 1848 to 1981, this was the longest continually-used ranch in Utah's history. What better setting for this event than right here?"

Twitter @ScottDPierce —

Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival

When: Continues all day Sunday and Monday

Where: Fielding Garr Ranch on Antelope Island

Admission: $10 per car to enter Antelope Island State Park

For more information: Go to