NWSS kick-off includes parade of Longhorns

Dec 23, 2013

The beginning of the New Year is like a changing of the season for producers, with calving season to follow. But for some, it also marks a week of fun, possibly a vacation, a week of showing cattle, or a trip to the rodeo at Denver’s National Western Stock Show (NWSS).

This longtime tradition started in the late 1800s, when cattlemen and livestock commission merchants attempted several stock shows. While they were a hit and miss in the beginning, NWSS has been one of the top U.S. social and show events for producers since 1906, when it became an annual event.

That first year, it opened on Jan. 29 and ran for six days. Harry Petrie, Superintendent of the Denver Stockyards was named first General Manager. Attendance was estimated at 15,000 with stockmen visiting from Omaha, Kansas City, Chicago and some eastern cities. The Grand Champion steer sold for 33 cents a pound, 23 cents over the market price.

Four breeds held court at the first National Western Stock Show in 1906—Angus, Galloway, Hereford, and Shorthorn.

Today, NWSS hosts nearly 20 breeds of cattle during its 16-day run. In addition, the National Western hosts Prospect Steer and Heifer Shows and the NWSS Commercial Heifer Show.

NWSS has also developed the popular Junior Market Sale, providing scholarships to youth.

Last year, the highest bids for the Junior Market Sale went to the Grand Champion Steer, which sold for $100,000, and the Grand Champion Hog, which sold for $47,500, nearly doubling last year’s bid. The top eight champion animals’ total sales exceeded the previous year’s total by $4,500.

The money invested supports the youth who raised the animals as they plan for their future needs and their college educations. In addition, a portion of the proceeds supports the National Western Scholarship Trust, which funds scholarships in agriculture and rural medicine at colleges throughout Colorado and Wyoming.

This year, the 108th National Western Stock Show will kick off with its opening parade, grand marshaled by William Dean Singleton, on Thursday, Jan. 9.

Singleton is the former Chairman and co-founder of Denver-based newspaper chain, Media News Group Inc. and Chairman of The Denver Post. Singleton, a Denver pioneer in the publishing world, is a longtime supporter of the National Western Stock Show. He announced his retirement early this month and looks forward to spending time with his family at his Colorado ranch. “Not only has Dean been a great business leader, he is also a passionate individual for the western way of life and the importance of agriculture in Colorado,” said Paul Andrews, President and CEO of the National Western Stock Show. “We are thrilled to have Dean as our parade Grand Marshal.” Singleton will lead the nearly century-old tradition of Longhorn cattle, horses, and western wagons parading through the streets of downtown Denver to celebrate the start of the 108th National Western Stock Show, Jan. 11-26. The parade begins at noon at Union Station and marches 15 blocks down 17th Street. A Stock Show Barbecue follows the parade at 11:30 a.m. in the atrium of the Wells Fargo Building at 17th Street & Broadway. Visitors can listen to western music and catch a VIP western fashion show, all while eating some of the West’s best barbecue. The barbecue is open to the public and benefits the 4-H International Youth Group; meal tickets are $10.

Overall attendance in 2013 was 628,366. The attendance record was set during the Stock Show’s 100th anniversary in 2006 at 726,972. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor