National Western Stock Show preparing for banner year

Dec 18, 2009
by WLJ

National Western Stock Show preparing for banner year

The 2010 National Western Stock Show (NWSS) is preparing for its 104th year. This year’s show will run Jan. 9-24, 2010, at the historic Denver Stockyards. There is an array of activities that will appeal to the whole family at the 2010 NWSS. The livestock on display will provide tough competition for breeders this year, with entries looking to be higher than last year in the yards, on the hill, and at the Junior level, according to Livestock and Yards Manager Bill Angell.

He said that the nine different national shows scheduled for this year’s event are helping to drive entries in nearly all breeds.

"Charolais and Shorthorn entries are looking like they are going to be up by quite a bit this year and Red Angus entries are up as well," said Angell, who emphasized that they are still tallying total numbers. "It looks like we’re up in just about every breed and the two or three where we are down, we aren’t going to be down very much."

The growing number of entries at this year’s NWSS is a testament to the power of a display in the yards or on the hill and breeders appear to be taking full advantage of the marketing opportunity. Last year, more than 643,000 attendees filled the stockyards, the 12th consecutive year that attendance has topped 600,000 visitors. Despite the tough economic conditions during 2009, attendance was only 4.5 percent lower than during the record setting year of 2008. All indications are that the 2010 show could go down as one of the biggest years on record for the stock show.

The staff at NWSS has worked hard over the past year to complete a number of improvements to the grounds in an effort to improve the visitor’s experience. Among the major improvements made to the grounds during 2009, the staff has poured concrete in the Event Centers Barn and replaced the asphalt behind the National Western Club. A number of gates have been repaired or replaced and the roll-up door leading to the Stadium Arena has been replaced. In addition, the sound system in the arena has been upgraded to improve audio quality for visitors and participants alike. NWSS President and CEO Pat Grant said these changes and many others are all part of the effort to make continuous improvements to the grounds and subsequently to the visitor’s experience.

He also noted that there have been some changes to the Junior shows and sale.

"We are industry leaders in animal testing with new policies in place for the 2010 National Western Junior Market Auction of Champions," Grant reported. "Every single Junior Market Sale animal will be drug tested and non-sale Junior Market animals will be randomly tested."

The change in policy comes as junior sales come under increasing scrutiny nationwide after a number of animals have been found to have been adulterated, tainting the reputation of the sale. The new NWSS policy is one more proactive step taken in an effort to ensure an experience of the highest quality.

For attendees interested in activities other than those offered by livestock exhibitors, there are a number of other events, offering fun for the entire family. The 104th annual NWSS will include the second annual Western Heritage Week in the Yards. Other events include a number of great rodeos, Ag Adventure at Children’s Ranchland, The Coors Western Art Exhibit, featuring the western vistas of artist G. Russell Case, and, of course, the largest consumer trade show in Denver.

As the NWSS continues to grow, strategic planning is becoming increasingly important. Grant emphasized that in addition to preparing for the 2010 show, staff are working diligently to plan for the show’s future.

"We’re pursuing our long-range planning. In short, we continue to explore our options," he said.

For some time, a strategic planning group has been looking at alternative sites for a possible future move for the NWSS grounds. A pending expansion plan for the Interstate 70 corridor through the stock show grounds could significantly disrupt or displace the grounds, making a move both desirable and necessary.

"We have had many meetings with different landowners, other jurisdictions and our advisors on possible funding sources. We are being ever-mindful of our proud traditions and legacy of this great institution as we plan for our future," Grant said. — WLJ