Mark Mizell has been teaching English at Seaside High School for 34 years. For 20 years, every 3 years, he’s taken 20 to 25 high school students to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada.
The Gathering highlights special guests and programming honoring the contemporary heritage of Basques and Buckaroos. In years past, this field trip was paid for through money allocated through the school budget or education grants such as the Meyer Memorial Trust. Without those funds available, Mizell opted to take a different approach this year.
To finance the trip, Mizell and his wife Becky are sponsoring the Harvest Moon Artisan Market the weekend of Oct. 28 and Oct. 29 to take place at the Broadway Middle School gym. Featured will be vendors from the North Coast and the southwest coast of Washington.
Becky Mizell is an artist working in polymer clay who sells her work through her business, Becky Sue Creations. You may have seen her booth at the Astoria Sunday Market and the market in Ilwaco. The Mizells reached out to other vendors including Leslie McCray’s “Sweater Heads,” and watercolor artist Dave Bartholet, whose work is displayed at his Gilbert Gallery in Seaside. Mizell expects 25 to 30 vendors to be involved. Each vendor pays a $70 entry fee.
“Every penny of that money will go to offset student travel expenses to the Cowboy Poetry Gathering,” Mizell said.
The Gathering takes place in Elko from Jan. 29 through Feb. 3. It’s sponsored by the Western Folklife Center. Prior to the trip, students will put in hours distributing fliers for the Harvest Moon Market and the Tillamook Head Gathering which takes place in mid-January. Other activities include making signs, manning a food booth at the Harvest Moon Market; helping vendors and practicing for the presentation of a mini-traveling show they’re calling the “Let ’er Buck Chili Feed Revue.”
“They’ll be performing that prior to the trip and during the trip as we travel down the tracks by train, and at the Gathering in Elko,” Mizell said.
The trip to Elko is in itself quite an adventure.
“The afternoon of Wednesday, Jan. 31, we’ll take a beautiful yellow school bus from the high school to the train station in Portland,” Mizell said. “From there, we’ll ride the train from Portland to Sacramento; switch trains, and travel through the Sierra Mountains and across the Great Basin to Elko, which is in eastern Nevada.”
At the Gathering, the students will perform their show. They may participate at the teen poetry and music slam, as well as meet with seasoned writers and poets.
On Sunday, Feb. 4, they’ll catch the train to Reno where they’ll next board a plane for Portland where the beautiful yellow school bus will be waiting to transport them home again.
“Along with parent and teacher chaperones, my wife and I have been taking students to the Gathering for 20 years. “The last one we attended featured the world-renowned author and activist Temple Grandin as the keynote speaker, as well as Cowboy Poetry Gathering greats such as Michael Martin Murphy, Ian Tyson, Don Edwards, Cowboy Celtic, and Paul Zarzyski.”
The Harvest Moon Artisan Market promises to be an amazing event. “All the craft items are handmade by the vendor,” Mizell said. “And this is a fun way to help students afford the upcoming trip to Nevada.” For more information about becoming a vendor contact Mark Mizell at 503-593-9044 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com. Describe the type of handmade craft you will be selling and any questions you have. To make a donation to the students’ travel fund,write a check to Seaside High School Elko Fund.
“This is the first time we’ve ever done a fundraising artisan fair to get the students to Elko,” Mizell said. “Hopefully, it won’t be the last.”