Looking Back: At the stock show

Mixing business with pleasure has always been one of the attractions of Denver’s National Western Stock Show.
Stockmen and women from all over the state gather to exhibit their livestock, check up on new developments in agriculture, and socialize with their fellow stock producers. Opening this past Saturday at the Denver Coliseum, the Stock Show will be running for the next two weeks.
Quite a few native White River Valley residents have stories from a lifetime of attending, and much like every other yearly celebration, going each year seems to mark the passage of time.
Talk to anyone who has ranched here for years, and you’ll most likely find that they are planning to go to the annual event. One old timer remembered that the stock show was something that even the adults waited for each year. While our local stockgrowers’ annual meetings, which included a dinner and dance and offered everyone the chance to get together, the National Western became an annual tradition, as well. The Hall of Education offered the opportunity to keep up with all the changes in the Ag business, and the rodeos and other entertainment made it a fun event for the whole family.
For those newcomers to the state, who remain unaware of this tradition, the Stock Show embodies everything western — from the rodeos and country western singers to traditional western wear. The first one was held more than a century ago, and became the highlight of the year for many of the ranchers. It is not an all-inclusive clientele, as each year there are reported to be more non-ranchers in the crowd.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors to the show during the two weeks bring much-needed revenue to Denver’s coffers.
Western heritage transmitted through this annual celebration, in addition to the requisite cowboy clothing staples — boots, hats, and lots of denim; demonstrations of western arts and crafts abound. Much of the promotion of the event may highlight the fun side of the show, but the educational significance of Stock Show continues to be an important component, as well.
Vocational Agricultural (Vo Ag) programs from high schools all over the stare bring their students to attend for a day or two.
Meeker High School has made an effort to take a contingent each year, and some students have been able to be in attendance all four years.
This opportunity is not only fun, but truly educational, as it makes each student much more aware of the opportunities available in their respective fields of interest. Keeping young people interested in Vo Ag is essential for the future of agriculture.