Visitors, sales soar at show
Attendance of about 675,000 would rank it as one of top two or three ever
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.
Blair Sanchez, 8, puts a blanket over her sheep on the final day of the National Western Stock Show on Sunday.