Jordan Smith

Jordan Smith, 1st place for “Halloween on the Chisholm Trail.” Smith is a 3rd grade student at Comanche Elementary. She also entered in the 2018 contest.

Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK, sponsored its second cowboy poetry contest this fall, for students in grades pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade. The national contest drew 63 entries, from five states.

Jordan Smith, a third-grade student at Comanche Elementary, was the only student this year who also participated in 2018. She went from a 3rd place in second grade, to 1st place in third grade, with her “Halloween on the Chisholm Trail” entry. Oliver Womack, a sixth-grade home school student in Oklahoma City, received 1st place marks from all judges, for his “Inferno of the West” entry.

First through fifth place poets received winning checks. Through teachers, cowboy poet performers and social media, word of the contest spread beyond the borders of Duncan. Entries from Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri and an entire class in Georgia submitted poems. Several parents mentioned they saw the contest on the CTHC website. Alice Womack, Oliver’s mother, said a friend who is a UCO English professor had learned of the contest and recommended it to them.

“Oliver loves to write and that’s one of the reasons we home school him, so that he can pursue that more. His grandparents actually lived in Duncan for many years,” she said.

Aron Hayes, of Randlett, and mother of five children who entered, said they heard about the contest from Don Williams, a professional cowboy poet, who has performed at the Heritage Center in the past few years.

Third place winner, Madisyn Lowry a 4th grader at Duncan’s Plato Elementary, was recognized by her principal during a school assembly. She read her poem “Cowboy Sleeping” in front of the 300 plus students.

“We are pleased with the interest and results from this year’s contest. We had a great mix of local and out-of-area students, including home school groups. Our timeline was narrowed down in getting the word out this year,” Interim Executive Director Leah Mulkey said.

“More than 10,000 students pass through our doors each school year. Teachers who encourage their students really make the difference in a literary event such as the cowboy poetry youth contest. It was interesting to hear from parents their connections to Duncan, and how they learned of our contest.”

Additionally, 12 poems received honorable mention certificates. All students received a certificate of participation, and a family pass for a visit to the Heritage Center. Four teachers received certificates for their initiative as “trail bosses” to encourage their students by challenging them to enter or making it a class assignment. Derrick Miller, 7th grade journalism teacher at Duncan Middle School; Jeri Donn McCauley, a Comanche Middle School teacher; Angie Everson, a 5th grade teacher at Creekside School in Cataula, GA; and Marilyn Yung, a language arts teacher at Skyline High School in Urbana, MO.

Winners were:

Pre-K – 2nd grade

1st Ashyr Dodgen, “Barrel Racing” Tupelo home school, 2nd grade

2nd Cale Hudson – “Slim’s Bud” Ada Christian Academy home school, 1st grade

3rd Levi Hill, “I see a cowboy” Marlow homeschool, kindergarten

4th Chloe Rowley, “Rainbow and Horse Brownie” Duncan home school, kindergarten

5th Bade Harden, “A Muddy Day” Randlett home school, 1st grade

3rd-5th grade

1st Jordan Smith, “Halloween on the Chisholm Trail” Comanche, 3rd grade

2nd Grace Stormer, “Ode to a Bale of Hay” Edmond, 3rd grade

3rd Madisyn Lowry, “Cowboy Sleeping” Duncan, Plato 4th grade

4th Thor Beck, “Cowboys” Duncan, Woodrow Wilson 3rd grade

5th Leah Holcomb, “Cowboy Ballad” Cataula, GA, 5th grade

6th-8th grade

1st Oliver Womack, “Inferno of the West” Oklahoma City, home school, 6th grade

2nd Brooke Combs, “The Cowboy” Comanche, 8th grade

3rd Landon Thacker, “The Cowboy’s Heroic Journey” Duncan Middle School, 7th grade

4th Paige Zetterberg, “Soldier Turned Cowboy” Duncan Middle School, 7th grade

5th CJ Ralls – Rodeo Life – Comanche 8th grade

9th-12th grade

1st Alayna Hill – The Life of a Cowboy – Marlow homeschool, 9th grade

2nd Penelope Duran – Rock Bottom - Houston, TX, 10th grade

3rd Pixley Harden – That Filly – Randlett homeschool, 9th grade

4th Madison McCarty – Warm Milky Mornings – Urbana, MO, 11th grade

5th Layla Harden – The Trail Continues – Randlett homeschool, 10th grade

Honorable mentions went to Nora Harden, and Gracie Harden, both of Randlett, OK; Maddux Hudson, Ada, OK; Lily Anderson, Devol, OK; Josie Fincher, Kathryn Widener, Jaquevious Russell and Amberly Lewis, all of GA; Trinity Zibbell, Comanche, OK; Aslan Dodgen, Tupelo, OK; Amiya Williams, Marlow, OK; and Isaac Pain, Duncan, OK.

Students receiving certificates for participation include, Caleb Hill of Marlow; Logan Sanders, Lucy Spoering, Ava Johnson, Reece Imel, all of Duncan; Peyton Hannington of Central High, OK. Isabel Hill, Jonathan Hill, Micah Hill, David Hill, all of Marlow; and Sarah Wood of Iowa Park, TX; Brody Jackson, Ansley Christmas, Jonathan Cowart, Connor Heise, Samantha Hilton, Ximena V. Salazar, Kelsey Eldridge, Cale Belford, Gabrielle Hanselman, Savannah Ludy, Caroline Gatewood, Lillie Holt, Maci McGuire, Libby Ricker, Nick McAllister, Zaene Pierce, Elijah Ellis, Thomas A. Moore, Jaiden Lange and Meryn Shippey, all of Cataula, GA.

Judges for the contest were Jay Snider of Cyril, OK; George Rhoades, and Cindy Parks, of Duncan, OK. The poems will be added to the Heritage Center’s website in the near future and shared on social media.

This program was made possible through funding by Chisholm Trail Heritage Center member, Woody Creek Ranch, and Oklahoma Arts Council. To learn more about the Heritage Center, which is a nonprofit organization, visit our website: which offers links to all of our social media sites; or call (580) 252-6692. The Heritage Center is open seven days a week, but closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

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