A western entertainer and an experienced cowboy, Ernie Sites hails from southern Idaho. Among his many talents, he is a western performer, songwriter, cowboy poet, trick roper, bull rider, rodeo clown, bareback rider, team roper and a calf roper. He has traveled the world over, using his gifts to teach people about cowboys and the west. Western author, Corinne J. Brown, has dubbed Ernie “the urban cowboy troubadour.”
His lifelong friendship with a guitar began when he was finally big enough to hold onto one, practicing his licks in the back room of the local barbershop, where the barber also happened to be a musician. Well before he learned to sing, he began developing his love for literature and rhyme by creating his own poetry. Eventually, he did learn to sing and to yodel, a combination that led him to the recording studio, “singing the stories of the West.” He formed his first band when he was 15. He continued to work on his cowboy skills along with his music, including hours of working to emulate his hero, Will Rogers, in the arena of trick roping. As his entertainer’s career grew, he discovered the National Cowboy Gathering at Elko Nevada, and was delighted to find there were many others who like him, were dedicated to preserving the cowboy life through music, poetry and storytelling. Along the trail, he has performed with such luminaries as Riders in the Sky, Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, Gene Autry, and the Sons of the Pioneers. He has been a guest on CBS, PBS, TNN, the BBC, and Good Morning, America. Along with these accomplishments, he is also a playwright and has created a fun filled songbook for kids.
Ernie is proudest of his accomplishments working with young people in his cowboy workshops, where he incorporates traditional and original cowboy songs, western singing, songwriting, yodeling, and storytelling. He even encourages the children to try to master rope tricks themselves. He is openly proud of every student with whom he works, making sure their encounter with his cowboy culture and history is always a positive one. Ernie is often characterized by professionals in the education field as a gifted teacher, because he so skillfully and easily engages kids in the learning process while conveying his own sense of happiness to them at all times. During summers, he travels from Idaho to One Thousand Acres Ranch in Adirondack Park, one of the first dude ranches in New York. There he works his cowboy magic for all the guests, grown-ups and young buckaroos alike, who’ve come to the ranch from all over the world to immerse themselves in a great cowboy experience. Ernie makes sure they are never disappointed.
National Day of the Cowboy