Vis­i­tors, sales soar at show

At­ten­dance of about 675,000 would rank it as one of top two or three ever

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Tom McGhee

Af­ter four vis­its to the Na­tional Western Stock Show this year, Kathy Phillips could pick out small de­tails.

“There used to be a uni­corn in that booth,” Phillips said on Sun­day, point­ing to a booth filled with furs that ranged from coy­ote pelts to red fox bed spreads, cat­tle hides and other items, sold by Don Clifford.

“Any­thing you want made out of fur, I can make it,” he said.

Clifford, who has sold his Clifford’s Crit­ter Cre­ations at the Na­tional Western for the past 26 years, sold the uni­corn, a mounted horse head with an ar­ti­fi­cial nar­whal tusk, last week, he said.

The 2016 show, which ended Sun­day, has been his best year for sales yet, he said.

El­iz­a­beth Low­ery, who was sell­ing eques­trian style jew­elry and hand­bags for jew­elry maker Cara­col, said sales were up 10 per­cent over the same pe­riod last year.

By Satur­day night, 650,704 vis­i­tors had at­tended the an­nual event since it be­gan on Jan. 9, an in­crease

of 9,071 above at­ten­dance in the same pe­riod last year, said spokes­woman Karen Woods.

“We are go­ing to end up be­tween 675,000 and 680,000-plus this year,” a num­ber that will be among the top two or three at­ten­dance records for the 110year-old show, said stock show pres­i­dent Paul An­drews.

Even Sun­day’s Bron­cos play­off game against the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots didn’t dampen at­ten­dance, An­drews said.

“Amaz­ingly, our build­ing is sold out for the 2 o’clock rodeo cham­pi­onship round. The stands are packed.”

A Fri­day night auc­tion of rib­bon-win­ning steers, lambs, hogs and goats that were raised by 4-H and Fu­ture Farm­ers of Amer­ica young­sters rang­ing in age from 9 to 18 set a stock show record, with to­tal sales of $412,000.

A stand­ing room only crowd watched as the Grand Cham­pion Steer, which weighed in at 1,344 pounds, sold for $117,000, the sec­ond­high­est bid in stock show his­tory.

A ma­jor­ity of the win­ning bid at the Ju­nior Live­stock Auc­tion goes di­rectly to the ex­hibitor, and 10 per­cent of the bid pro­ceeds are fun­neled into the Na­tional Western Schol­ar­ship Trust, which funds schol­ar­ships in agri­cul­ture and ru­ral medicine at col­leges in Colorado and Wy­oming.

Sa­van­nah Mes­sen­ger, 17, drove a team of two Percherons, draft horses that weigh about 1 ton each, to take first place in the ju­nior cart class.

Mes­sen­ger has been com­pet­ing in the show since she was 7, she said. “I like the tra­di­tion of it and the ex­cite­ment. There is noth­ing not to like about it,” she said.

Ja­son Levy brought his daugh­ter Sophia, 2, to the show for the first time this year. Sophia was cap­ti­vated by a bright green trac­tor, and she smiled as she turned the wheel and grabbed levers.

“She loves heavy equip­ment,” Ja­son Levy said.

Chil­dren watch as “Mud­slinger” puts his toys in a box dur­ing the Top Hogs show on the fi­nal day of the Na­tional Western Stock Show at the Na­tional Western Com­plex on Sun­day. Pho­tos by Brent Lewis, The Den­ver Post

Rid­ers pre­pare their horses for the eight-horse hitch show. The stock show came to a close with the fi­nal rounds of judg­ing, the Draft Horse Show and the U.S. Bank Pro Rodeo Fi­nals.

Brent Lewis, The Den­ver Post

Blair Sanchez, 8, puts a blan­ket over her sheep on the fi­nal day of the Na­tional Western Stock Show on Sun­day.

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