The National Western Stock Show – A Colorado Tradition For 100+ Years

Last week, I took five boys to the National Western Stock Show, a Colorado tradition for 110 years.  Every January, Denver is full of cowboys, ranchers and farmers who come to buy, sell or show their livestock.  Some come to ride in the rodeo or see the latest equipment in ranching.

It begins with a parade through downtown Denver…Western style.

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I remember going over thirty years ago with my Grandpa Ray, a farmer from Iowa, to an auction.  I thought it was so cool to hear the auctioneer talk ridiculously fast and see Grandpa tap his hat to place a bid.  I remembered it being a special day and wanted to share it with my boys.  So…off on an adventure we went!

The huge tractor by the front door had all the boys very excited!  Don’t they look cute in their cowboy outfits?

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When we walked in we were greeted by this huge bull!  His horns were very intimidating.

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This cowboy was posing with the horse for pictures.

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Next we went over to the tradeshow…my youngest was in heaven looking at all the equipment!  Here he is trying to negotiate why we need one of these for the back yard.

DSC_0146 (2)Down in the arena was a Hunter/Jumper competition. The kids loving getting waves and smiles from the riders as they went by the fence.

DSC_0267The animals were beautiful!

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A young girl who wasn’t competing that morning, asked my boys if they’d like to meet her horse.  How cute!

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Our secret horse whisperer.  He stopped to pet and talk to almost every one we passed.


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Getting beautiful for competition.


4-H was teaching the kids about animals, but the boys only loved that this one is called an ass. Silly kids.

DSC_0176 (1)This mama pig had nine piglets.

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It was a big day for cattle shows.  You never know who’ll you’ll cross paths with!


Walking through the cattle barns is chaotic.  All the animals are getting prepped for showing. That includes baths, brushes, blow dryers, hair trims and polished hooves.


Once all clean, they have to stay that way until time for the judging.


And find a clean place to grab a snack.


And if you tend to be naughty and like to roll in manure right after a bath…a short leash.


Ranchers from all over bring the best of their herds to compete.

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Ever wonder why bulls are shown with rings in their noses?  It’s not for fashion!  Their noses are incredibly sensitive and you can lead a giant bull that way. Which is pretty surprising considering their size!


The cattle are brought into the arena for judging.

And this is the criteria they are judged on.  (See last star on the sign below.)


Want to know the difference between llamas and alpacas?  These are alpacas, they are only about 60lbs and are mostly raised for their wool.  They are smaller (and nicer) that llamas…who are sometimes used to also as protectors of smaller animals.  Like sheep, alpacas or chickens.


The farmer said he has 120 alpacas on a ranch between Fort Collins and Cheyenne.  When we pet these guys, the wool was so thick that their backs were almost four inches below the fuzziness.  Think you want an alpaca?  Learn more here.

A fun activity for the smaller kids is the Pedal Tractor Races.


Several County Fair Queens were there to help run the event. Each kiddo said their name and age before climbing on a tractor.


Thank goodness the kids got a push if needed…otherwise a lap could take forever!


It wasn’t just for boys – tutus welcome!


I would love to go back sometime and see a rodeo – like the pro bull riders!  But I think that was enough for one day for me to handle five energetic boys by myself.  If you would ever like to experience what life beyond being a city-slicker is like, take a trip to the Stock Show! It’s every January in Denver.




8 Replies to “The National Western Stock Show – A Colorado Tradition For 100+ Years”

  1. beautiful photos Heather and nice narrating. Thanks for the reminder we need to get our kids there this year before the stock show leaves. BTW if they weigh <50lbs you can have them try mutton busting. Our kids did it in kindergarten and loved the experience. They both were really good and our son missed a huge trophy by <1sec. bless you for going with 5 boys! 😉

      1. Love to see all the fun you had, such a great cowboy experience for those little ones . A excellent review of the Colorado country culture !

  2. Such a wonderful review of a exciting day with the boys, sure could see they were having fun! Loved the cowboy hats too. So glad they could experience a large nation wide event like that! Yes, I’m sure they will remember it!

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