Upcoming Contests

Spring 2023 | "What does it mean to be 'Out West?'"

Contest Poster

Past Contests

Spring 2020 | "Fighting for a Place"

Student video/film documentary contest hosted by Center for the Study of the American West (CSAW) and West Texas A&M University’s Department of Communication

CONCEPT: Communities in our region, large and small, fight to maintain economic prosperity and opportunity. This issue hits the younger generation especially hard. Some young people remain in communities but struggle to find meaningful work, while others take it for granted that success lies elsewhere. Communities find that they must take purposeful steps to maintain cultural vibrancy, to sustain population levels, and to create economic opportunity. This contest will award student-produced films that best address this theme of place, youth, and struggle, and which display technical craft and artistic vision. This contest is held in conjunction with CSAW’s Spring 2020 Nall Lecture, featuring filmmaker Ramona Emerson (Mayors of Shiprock), at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, 7 p.m. March 26.

ENTRANTS: Southern Plains/Texas Panhandle college and high school students are eligible to submit. Group submissions are allowed but only one submission per group and per person.

VIDEO LENGTH: maximum 10 minutes (no minimum length)

TECH SPECS: Videos must be uploaded to cloud storage or online video sharing. Winners will be asked to provide a downloadable file.

PRIZES: 1st--$200, 2nd--$100, & 3rd--$50; prize jury will include Ramona Emerson and faculty from CSAW and the WTAMU Department of Communication.


Fall 2019 | "Streets of Laredo" Student Art Contest

To accompany the Center for the Study of the American West’s 2019 Garry L. Nall lecture in Western American Studies, Amarillo and Canyon college and high school students are invited to submit entries to the "Streets of Laredo" art contest. Top entries will be featured on the WTAMU campus at the Oct. 24 lecture, presented by Dr. José Limón, and then will be exhibited at Amarillo National Bank starting Nov. 1. The contest will be juried by Amarillo College and WTAMU faculty.

PRIZES: First place—$500, second place—$250, third place—$100


"Streets of Laredo" (AKA "Cowboy’s Lament") is a famous cowboy ballad that has been performed and recorded by many musicians. But this cowboy ballad has its origins on the hungry streets of 19th-century Ireland, far from Texas, cowboys, and cattle. Furthermore, the town of Laredo, at the point of the song’s Texas incarnation, was ethnically-speaking heavily Mexican-American, and the same was true of many working cowboys of the time—despite the song’s "Anglo" cultural identification. The song has taken life in film and literature, notably Larry McMurtry’s novel Streets of Laredo, where Lorie Wood (the character we first meet as the young prostitute in Lonesome Dove) becomes the heroine of the story. More recently, a New Zealand indie rock band called itself "Streets of Laredo," and the song made its latest cameo appearance in the Coen brothers’ 2018 film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. In short, "Streets of Laredo" has a long and complex range of cultural reference and significance.