There is an amazing annual tradition about to wrap up here in Denver that also a yearly tradition in our household, The National Western Stock Show! This 113 year old tradition dates back to 1906, some parts of which can still be seen and felt today. In fact, of my 17 years of attending, I finally saw a train pass through the stockyards as I was there and it made me think of the origins of the show and the yards themselves, as livestock were brought in for show and sale way back when. Let me back up and tell you why I love this event we here in Denver call, “The Best 16 Days in January!”
For those of you who don’t know, I grew up in Iowa. Contrary to popular belief, we all didn’t grow up on farms and I actually lived on a paved street in town! But I have many cherished friends and family who did, and some of whom raised animals for show and competition. I attended a few shows, (one of which my senior year of high school was accompanied by the one of the worst snowstorms of my life, stranding us in a hotel for almost a week) and it gave me a new appreciation for what it meant to care for farm animals large and small, and the rigorous standards for competition. My heart truly beams, watching these kids compete and the families who travel to support them. The culmination of all of this is the Junior Livestock Auction, where local businesses bid on the top winning animals of the entire stock show. The pride on the faces of the kids and the excitement of the prize money they receive is infectious, and knowing that these kids can put the money towards college is amazing. Kudos to all for their hard work year in and year out!
We have many traditions that we try to do each year, one of which is starting our day at the Stockyards Saloon for a quick drink and a snack. This building is scheduled to be demolished with a scheduled renovation for the yards, so every year we can still attend is great! From there, we typically head to the giant Expo Hall, where you can buy anything from bed sheets, to taxidermy animals to clothing and belt buckles. Oh, and let me mention the food! My husband loves the giant turkey legs, while I am more of a fan of the ribbon fries. What can I say, I love a good potato side, which goes against my typical Keto lifestyle. But hey, the show is only once a year! We’ve also come across a stand that serves chocolate covered bacon….again, I’m from Iowa; it is a no brainer! After lunch, we head to the rodeo for calf roping, mutton bustin’ (the cutest!), barrel racing and bull riding, among other things. The kids love the chance to hoot and holler with the always engaging announcer and rodeo clown. Recently, we have headed to the show arena to watch a dear friend compete in show jumping. The fearlessness combined with grace is truly a spectacle to be seen! Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that her arena is connected to the baby animals exhibit! Awwwww!
All in all, the National Western Stock Show is a great event for families to attend! I feel connected to Colorado and it’s western roots as well as my own every time I attend. If you have been before or have been curious for the first time, it is always a good time to find your western spirit!