The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Tom McGhee Tom McGhee: 303- 954- 1671, tm­cghee@den­ver­post.com or @dpm­cghee

At 110 years, the Na­tional Western Stock Show shows no sign of limp­ing into its dotage.

“You have world- class rodeo— and nearly 30 of them in the 16 days — world- class horse shows, the Su­per Bowl of live­stock shows and the largest agri­cul­tural trade showin Colorado. All those forces com­bined to­gether to make the an­nual Na­tional Western Stock Show the trea­sured as­set it has been for 110 years,” said pres­i­dent Paul An­drews.

Last year, 682,539 peo­ple at­tended the show, the sec­ond- high­est num­ber in its history. The at­ten­dance record was set in the event’s cen­ten­nial year, 2006, with 726,972 spec­ta­tors pour­ing onto the grounds of the Na­tional Western Com­plex at Brighton Boule­vard and In­ter­state 70.

This year’s show opens Satur­day and runs daily through Jan. 24.

Spe­cial this year

Head­lin­ing this year’s new at­trac­tions is the first Na­tional Western in­vi­ta­tional Ranch Rodeo on Jan .9, at 5:30 p.m. in the Events Cen­ter.

There have been rodeos aplenty in the stock show’s history, but the Ranch Rodeo is dif­fer­ent. Con­tes­tants are full- time ranch hands, rather than rodeo per­form­ers, and they com­pete as teams in con­tests based on their ev­ery­day du­ties.

Some teams rep­re­sent one ranch; oth­ers are made up of ranch hands from dif­fer­ent ranches.

The events are not seen at com­mon rodeos. Among them is wild-cow milk­ing, in­which teams rope and milk a cow that has spent its life in a pas­ture.

Awild- horse race will re­quire a team to sad­dle a wild horse and ride it across a fin­ish line, and a ranch- doc­tor­ing com­pe­ti­tion is part of the ac­tion re­quir­ing cow hands to rope and tie down cat­tle to pre­pare them for treat­ment by a vet.

Also on the first day, the Na­tional Western BBQ Throw down will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is open to any­one with a gen­eral ad­mis­sion ticket.

The event fea­tures live mu­sic, culi­nary demon­stra­tions, bar­be­cue sam­pling, and food and bev­er­age ven­dors.

Forty- two teams, most from Colorado, will com­pete in the throw­down, and 50 judges, cer­ti­fied by the Kansas City Bar­be­cue So­ci­ety, will judge four cat­e­gories: chicken, pork, ribs and brisket.

Tra­di­tional rodeo fans also have a lot to look for­ward to this year.

One of the spe­cialty acts this year is trick roper Loop Rawl­ins, whose gun spin­ning, whip crack­ing and rope twirling has en­ter­tained au­di­ences at rodeos, on the tele­vi­sion show “Amer­ica’s Got Tal­ent” and with Cirque du Soleil.

“The staff is really look­ing for new and ex­cit­ing acts that might be out there on the horse side as well as the rodeo side. We are al­ways try­ing to change spe­cialty acts for the rodeos, keep them fresh and new. It used to be a staff would have to travel around the coun­try to see as many of th­ese shows as they could,” An­drews said.

The In­ter­net has made it eas­ier to find those acts and add them to the ros­ter. “We plan and think through all the el­e­ments that could make it the most ex­cit­ing and up- to- date show we could have.”

For the 4- H mem­bers, ranch hands, breed­ers, buy­ers, auc­tion­eers and other par­tic­i­pants, the showis a chance to be with an ex­tended fam­ily whose mem­bers are re­lated by com­mon in­ter­est and her­itage, said live­stock oper­a­tions man­ager Erin Dorsey.

Dorsey, 48, said her par­ents went to a live­stock show on their hon­ey­moon. Like her, most par­tic­i­pants grew up on farms and ranches and feel a deep con­nec­tion with Western tra­di­tions.

Dorsey showed cat­tle at the stock show when she was 3.

“It is just bred into us,” Dorsey said. “For a lot of us, go­ing to a live­stock show is a va­ca­tion.”

Youth in­volve­ment is one of the high­lights of the live­stock shows. Young ex­hibitors from across the na­tion par­tic­i­pate in com­pet­i­tive are­nas for prize money, na­tional recog­ni­tion and col­lege schol­ar­ships.

As a teen, Clancy An­der­son, 24, par­tic­i­pated in the Catch- a- Calf event. By suc­cess­fully run­ning down a calf and wrestling it to the ground, she got the chance to raise a steer over the fol­low­ing year.

Ayear later, in 2009, she showed the steer, Bo, at the stock show, where it­was sold to mar­ket.

The $ 1,700 she made in the sale helped pay for her ed­u­ca­tion at Ok­la­homa State.

To­day, An­der­son is the stock show’s live­stock co­or­di­na­tor.

Six­teen thou­sand head of live­stock, in­clud­ing at least 20 dif­fer­ent breeds of cat­tle, will be spread across the grounds dur­ing the show.


En­ter­tain­ment kicks off with the Rocky Moun­tain Fiddle Cham­pi­onship, on open­ing day at 9 a. m.

Among other high­lights are a Wild West Show on Jan. 17, Su­per Dogs on Jan. 18- 19, an Evening of Danc­ing Horses on Jan. 20- 21 and the Coors Western Art Ex­hibit through­out the show.

More than 400 ven­dors will sell — of­ten at ne­go­tiable prices — prod­ucts rang­ing from sad­dles and bed sheets to peanut brit­tle and cargo haulers.

The top floor of the Hall of Ed­u­ca­tion is home to spe­cial at­trac­tions for chil­dren, in­clud­ing pony rides and a pet­ting zoo.

Among the spe­cial events that re­quire tick­ets sep­a­rate from grounds ad­mis­sion are the Mex­i­can Rodeo Ex­trav­a­ganza, the PBR Bull Rid­ing, Pro Rodeos, Martin Luther King Jr. African- Amer­i­can Her­itage Rodeo, Cinch Su­per Shootout Rodeo, Na­tional Western Wild West Show, Ram In­vi­ta­tional Freestyle Rein­ing, Grand Prix show jump­ing, Su­per Dogs shows, and Evening of Danc­ing Horses and the Draft Horse Show.

He­len H. Richard­son, Den­ver Post file

Prize cat­tle are auc­tioned off at the Den­ver Union stock­yards in 1929. The 110th Na­tion­alWestern Stock Show, which runs Satur­day through Jan. 24, show no sign of de­creas­ing in pop­u­lar­ity. Last year, 682,539 peo­ple at­tended the event, the sec­ond- high­est num­ber in its history. Den­ver Post file

ErnieWil­liams, 79, of Cortez runs a trade booth, Cow­boy’s Touch, at the Na­tion­alWestern Stock Show, which takes place in Den­ver dur­ing most of Jan­uary. Ken­neth D. Lyons, The Den­ver Post

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