Calling it the “Super Bowl” of livestock shows, Paul Andrews, president and CEO of the National Western Stock Show, says he’s fully expecting this year’s show to be the best ever. “It will be second to none. We’re going to have the greatest cowboys, the greatest equestrians, and so much more this year.” Following last year’s unprecedented cancellation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Andrews says interest in the 116th show is higher than usual. More than 40 states and 35 countries will be represented at the festivities, which include 28 rodeo performances, 14 horse shows, and 900 exhibitors over the 16-day celebration.
The annual stock show parade through downtown Denver will be held Jan. 6. The Stock Show event at the National Western Center complex runs from Jan. 8 to Jan. 23, with dozens of events every day ranging from fiddle competitions, folkloric dancing, livestock auctions, dog shows, goat roping, sheep shearing, and a petting farm with 60 barnyard animals. (For a complete list of events visit www.nationalwestern.com)
Attendees will be able to take advantage of several new amenities this year, including a new RTD light rail station, the new Stockyard Events Center, and state-of-the-art livestock pens. It’s all part of a massive redevelopment plan which that began three years ago. There are also new roadways and sidewalks with lighting and landscaping to encourage people to explore more of the campus. “I think people will be blown away by the progress we’ve made,” says Brad Buchanan, CEO of the National Western Center. In addition, Colorado State University’s newly-completed Vida building will be open with free admission. The facility focuses on animal and human health and visitors will be able to watch as veterinarians treat small animals in a clinic operated by the Denver Dumb Friends League. There will also be demonstrations in equine assisted therapy and sports medicine for horses, where the animals exercise on an underwater treadmill. And although it won’t be visible to visitors this year, Buchanan also touts the new heating and cooling system on the campus, which uses recycled thermal energy from sewer pipelines. Buchanan says it’s the largest system of its type in North America and will provide 90 percent of the heating and cooling on the campus without burning fossil fuels. Next year, the central utility plant that runs the system will be open for tours. “We want to use it as a teaching tool so people can learn about low-carbon, sustainable solutions,” says Buchanan. While the stock show is the signature event every year at the National Western Center, Buchanan hopes that the new facilities will encourage other large-scale events. He says he could envision Farm Aid, TED Talks, X Games and more. Already scheduled for March—a 20,000-square-foot immersive dinosaur experience called Jurassic World: The Exhibition.
Front Porch file photos by Steve Larson