I wouldn’t say I’ve got my bucket list laid out. I might not even qualify myself as a bucket lister, but when you move to a new state that you now call home it seems to me that you should jump right into the traditions. Of course in the cattle and horse
world the National Western Stock Show in Denver is something you’ve got to at least put on your “must see” list. This event is 108 years old and they still run live Texas longhorn cattle down the streets of Denver during the kick-off parade.
For me it was kind of like the state fair on steroids crossed with a mega rodeo event. It doesn’t have the midway carnival feel with rides and cheesy local bands of a state fair or concerts with mega country stars like the summer rodeos such as the Pendleton Roundup in Oregon or Cheyenne Frontier Days, but it definitely has something for everyone. In fact when you talk to native Coloradoans there is a lot of nostalgia around childhood visits to the Stock Show regardless of whether they were ranch and farm kids or city kids.
Our first stop at the stock show was to see all the cattle and sheep being groomed for the shows. You will never see cleaner more pampered farm animals than here! Whole families come from farms and ranches around the country to compete at the show. From 4H and FFA kids to full time livestock producers, they take pride in their animals and the quality is really evident. It had to be tough work for the judges for sure. According to the website there are nearly twenty breeds of cattle being shown. We didn’t even see all the animals or find the horses. There is quite a maze under the building and the trade show is going full tilt above your head. We wound our way through the aisles admiring at the cattle and sheep, some already blanketed, some still getting primped with blow dryers and hair spray, others being led out to the show ring. Good luck, you look fabulous!
Next, we toured the trade show area upstairs with hundreds of exhibitors. You can get yourself decked out in the latest Cinch cowboy and cowgirl clothes in their huge booth, or get your boots shined, or buy a new pair of boots. There’s western themed arts, crafts, and jewelry, farm equipment, fencing, you can pick up your National Western Stock Show logo gear, and even get yourself a cowboy hat in just about any style and color you can imagine. Hungry yet? There are food vendors where you can taste test barbecue sauces, get popcorn in crazy colors and flavors, eat homemade Mexican food (the tacos were amazing by the way), as well as traditional hot dogs, hamburgers, turkey legs, and more.
We met up with our friend who had just graduated from CSU and has a job checking livestock in for all the events in the yards. Long hours but boy what a great opportunity! In fact a lot of our Ag classmates spent their break working for the stock show, and running the CSU booth to help get kids excited about agriculture. Cam the Ram even made an appearance at the stock show on CSU day.
After grabbing dinner, we headed over to the rodeo in the main building. I’ve only ever been to outdoor rodeos before. This was one heck of an amazing indoor event. No matter where you sat you had a great view of all the action. The lights were focused on the arena, and the crowd cheered on the competitors, and booed low scores in the bucking competitions. I have to say I loved the pageantry of the women on horseback riding the sponsor flags around the arena; the choreographed horseback routine of the Westernaires, as well as all the stock events. The five to seven year old kids who mutton busted (essentially holding onto the back of sheep who ran out of the bucking chutes into the arena) were sure brave. I figured that if a grown man wants to ride a horse from a full stop to a full gallop then slide off the saddle onto a running steer and wrestle him to the ground he’s truly doing what he loves. (See the video)
The National Western Stock Show continues through Sunday afternoon January 26th so you still have time to experience it yourself. This weekend’s line up includes draft horses and mule events, a Texas longhorn steer competition, a bison sale, pro rodeo events, and more. For information and to view the calendar of events visit www.nationalwestern.com and plan your awesome weekend.