David Zirnhelt (from left) smiles proudly with his grandson Finn Zirnhelt and son Robin Zirnhelt. Young Finn competed in the Canadian Poetry Class in the Speech Arts section of the festival at the Cariboo Festival last week. Photo submitted.

Cowboy poetry a family affair as young Zirnhelt carries on grandfather’s legacy

Finn Zirnhelt read a poem first written by his grandfather David Zirnhelt for the Cariboo Festival

If you’re a long time Williams Laker, you might recall Dave Zirnhelt’s service as MLA from 1989-2001, or recognize his weekly column in the Tribune. What you might not have known about Dave was his Cowboy Poet status.

This year at Cariboo Festival, the Speech Arts crew were delighted to witness Dave’s grandson, Finn Zirnhelt, sharing the poem “Turn Out Time.” The poem was written by grandpa Dave and his son Sam and originally performed over 20 years ago for a Cowboy Poetry Festival held in 1996 at the 108 Mile Ranch.

Read More:Cariboo Festival on from April 7 to April 18

Finn’s brother Seamus and cousin Tarn also performed a few poems, showing it runs throughout the family. In fact, their whole community school, Big Lake Elementary, turned out on time to celebrate poetry and prose with several engaging performances.

The Cariboo Festival holds steadfast as a community event, where it is wonderful to see the rich creative offerings of our long-time residents being kept alive by the next generations. And, as many parents expressed at the festival, the art of public speaking is so important for the community to keep alive: for its history, experiences and culture to thrive.

Williams Lake and surrounding areas are fortunate to have such a rich tapestry of history, community, and artistry to share.



patrick.davies@wltribune.com

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