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Italian Buckaroos: Old World and New World

E. L. Wiegand Foundation Funds Cultural Exchange

Today the E. L. Wiegand Foundation announced a grant to the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada, in the amount of $75,926.00. Approved at its March 15, 2012 meeting of the Foundation's Board of Trustees, the grant will fund the Center's first-ever opportunity to host Italian butteri "cowboys." The cultural exchange will focus on gear-making, traditional cooking and horsemanship, with musical performances and poetry recitations (translated) from up to six guest butteri to be featured at the 2013 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

"We are delighted to welcome the butteri to Nevada," said Kristen Avansino, the Foundation's President and Executive Director. "There is a vibrant ranching history in Nevada, and Italian-Americans have contributed to that lineage. This exchange will shed light on those contributions, as well as offer tourists and enthusiasts an opportunity to learn about this unique, traditional Italian ranching culture."

A supplemental exhibit will document the history of Italian-American ranching in Nevada and throughout the American West. The exhibit will be on display in the Wiegand Gallery at Western Folklife Center for eight months beginning in January 2013, followed by a three-month installation at arte italia at 442 Flint Street in Reno, September to December 2013.

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The E. L. Wiegand Foundation, headquartered in Reno, Nevada, embodies the spirit of Edwin L. Wiegand and works to personify his adherence to the work ethic, profound confidence in democracy and the free market system, lifelong scientific curiosity, and appreciation of the fine and performing arts. Established in 1982, the Foundation funds programs and projects of exemplary organizations which further this legacy and promote the emergence of tomorrow's great ideas.


Western Folklife Center was established in 1980 in Elko, Nevada. In 1992, the Center made its home in the Pioneer Hotel (circa 1913), one of the most historically significant buildings in the city. The 34,000 sq. ft., three- story facility has 2 theaters, a saloon, a gift shop, and the Wiegand Gallery, the Center's 2,500 sq. ft. main exhibition space. The organization's mission to "enhance the vitality of American life through the experience, understanding and appreciation of the diverse culture of the American West" is achieved through performances, exhibitions, educational programs, and broadcast productions. The Center conducts ongoing fieldwork to document and preserve the authenticity, artistry and ingenuity of western folkways. Best known for its annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Western Folklife Center attracts thousands of attendees each winter to its grassroots arts event. Collaborators include local Basque, Italian-American, Mexican-American, Native American, Belizean, Tongan and East Indian communities, along with representatives from the Northeastern Nevada Museum, Great Basin College, the National Council for Traditional Arts, and the Smithsonian Institute. The Center earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator in 2006, and was one of only five organizations to receive the Ford Foundation's New Directions/New Donors for the Arts Award in 2007. In the categories of "Best Arts Entertainment Program" and "Best Musical Composition," the Center received two Red Rock Rondo (Rocky Mountain Emmy) Awards in 2010.

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“Reno is very lucky to have an organization which makes it possible for native Italian chefs to be here and teach us so many of their wonderful recipes straight from their home country.”

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