AC­TION!

Fam­i­lies flock to the deep fry­ers, are­nas and an­i­mals per­form­ing at the Na­tional Western.

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By El­iz­a­beth Her­nan­dez El­iz­a­beth Her­nan­dez: 303-954-1223, ehernan­dez@den­ver­post.com or @ehernan­dez

Open­ing day at the Na­tional Western Stock Show.

Whether a first-timer or a sea­soned pro, most pa­trons sad­dling up to work and play on the open­ing day of the Na­tional Western Stock Show, Rodeo & Horse Show showed up with bells and boots on.

Five-year-old Lileigh Gil­bert sported a hot pink, tiara-topped cow­boy hat Satur­day morn­ing and sug­ar­dusted cheeks as she stood in­side a con­ces­sion area at the stock show.

“Eww,” Lileigh said af­ter her ini­tial bite of a fried Twinkie. “Wait. Yum.”

The sweet treat was one of myr­iad firsts dur­ing the Den­ver girl’s in­tro­duc­tion to the Na­tional Western.

“It’s fun,” said mom Jes­sica Gil­bert. “We’re just get­ting started.”

The fam­ily was look­ing for­ward to mak­ing mem­o­ries and check­ing out the rodeo.

Isa­iah Beck, 6, is more of a stock show pro.

The Ar­vada boy has spent most of his young ex­is­tence long­ing for the cow­boy life.

Isa­iah woke up ex­tra early on Satur­day, said dad Steven Beck, and donned full cow­boy at­tire.

“My fa­vorite thing about the stock show is just about ev­ery­thing,” Isa­iah said.

Beck has been haul­ing his son to the Na­tional Western for the past four years, so they could en­joy the food, the fes­tiv­i­ties and the fam­ily time.

“It’s be­come a tra­di­tion for us,” Beck said, as the pair waited for the rodeo to be­gin in the Den­ver Coli­seum.

In an­other arena, some pol­ished and preened heifers be­fore their hope­ful han­dlers showed off to a panel of judges.

Sara Eeg of Green­bush, Minn., was snap­ping pho­tos of her daugh­ter Marin who was show­ing a red an­gus heifer.

“We’re pretty new at it,” Eeg said. “I’m prob­a­bly more ner­vous than she is.”

Marin, who got her start in 4H, took first in her class and was named the grand cham­pion in her divi­sion.

Af­ter the show, the Eeg fam­ily was look­ing for­ward to ex­plor­ing what the rest of the stock show had to of­fer.

Nearby, crowds of chil­dren flocked in­side a white tent to watch a llama, don­key, minia­ture horse, baby goat and pig do tricks and eat treats.

“I liked when the lit­tle goat fig­ured out a way to climb up on the don­key,” said A.J. Gib­son, 7. “That’s why the stock show is cool. There are so many an­i­mals, and it’s amaz­ing.”

“I liked when the lit­tle goat fig­ured out a way to climb up on the don­key. That’s why the stock show is cool. There are so many an­i­mals, and it’s amaz­ing.” A.J. Gib­son, 7

AAron On­tiveroz, The Den­ver Post

Dy­lan Fere­bee, 5, sits on a John Deere trac­tor on dis­play at the Na­tional Western Stock Show on Satur­day.

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