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National Western Stock Show prepares for January events

Iconic trade show brings animals, visitors, fun to north Denver


Each January for the past 112 years, Western has been the preferred fashion in Denver during the run of the National Western Stock Show.

This year’s festivities kick off Jan. 6 and the schedule of event wraps up Jan. 21. During that stretch of time about 400,000 men, women and children will push through the turnstiles to watch or take part in events including rodeos, equestrian events, stock judging events and auctions.

While entertainment draws a lot of attention, much of the event’s focus is on stock shows. There are judging competitions for horses, cattle, sheep, swine, goats, llamas, bison, yaks, poultry and rabbits. Ten livestock associations hold their national shows at National Western.

There also are a number of livestock sales where millions of dollars change hands as prize animals are sold to new owners.

The first wave of the thousands of animals will begin arriving at the National Western Stock Show complex as the new year is ushered in, because stabling the animals requires coordination due to the hundreds of animals coming to the show and the limits on stable space.

The cattle barns are the temporary home for animals being shown or put up for auction. When it is time for them to be shown, the cattle are brought inside, filling the barn with the splash of water and the hum of clippers as each animal is washed, blow-dried and combed to get them looking their best. In one barn, a sign over a wash area for cattle identifies it as “The Bovine Beauty Shop.”

Once that breed’s shows are complete, the animals are either auctioned off or loaded up to be taken home, so the stalls are cleaned and made ready for the next occupants.

The National Western Stock Show is Colorado’s largest trade show. The hall of education is filled with vendors offering items ranging from custom embroidered jackets to farm machinery. The estimated economic impact is about $115 million and the event generates about $6 million in local and state taxes.

The Denver Coliseum is home to the National Western Stock Show Rodeo, the first event on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association schedule. Each rodeo performance features competition in bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping and barrel racing, plus there are specialty acts booked to perform during breaks in the rodeo.

The rodeo events are in the Coliseum while, at the other end of the National Western complex, the Events Center will be equally busy as the site of horse competitions for a number of breeds and styles.

There will be shows and competitions as well as activities that include the Grand Prix jumping event, an evening of dancing horses and a daily schedule of riding and performance competitions.

A new equestrian event this year is the National Western Horseman’s Challenge that will be held Jan. 8-10 in the Denver Coliseum. The event is designed to provide a challenging, educational and entertaining opportunity for local and national equestrians to be involved in the stock show within a growing and evolving discipline. Horse and rider teams will be faced with various obstacles and tasks testing their confidence in each other.

The press release on the National Western Horseman’s Challenge stated it will offer schooling time followed by competition phases including individual timed practice rounds, a team competition and individual speed challenges. Obstacles and tasks will vary to accommodate all levels and ages of riders and horses.

The show events are spread among a number of facilities. Stock show activities are centered at the National Western Stock Show Arena and Hall of Education near 46th Avenue and Humbolt Street, the Events Center at 1515 E. 47th Ave. and the Denver Coliseum. For information, tickets, the event schedule and event locations, call 303-297-1166 or go online to nationalwestern.com.


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