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National Treasure

Denver stock show and rodeo has long history as symbol of Western way of life

The National Western includes one of the top Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) rodeos of the year, with the top cowboys in ProRodeo competing for five-figure paydays as they look to begin their years with a bang.

The National Western includes one of the top Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) rodeos of the year, with the top cowboys in ProRodeo competing for five-figure paydays as they look to begin their years with a bang.

photo courtesy of the Denver Livestock Show & Rodeo

Held each year at the National Western Complex, which boasts more than 100,000 square feet of facility space, the stock show is a spectacle to behold. Fans from all over the country and the world have converged at the National Western to enjoy an event that is a slice of Americana, a large part of the community’s sports and entertainment portfolio and a fun and enthralling experience.

Jan. 12-27 will mark the 107th staging of the National Western, with more than 650,000 visitors expected to make their way through the grounds during the event. From professional rodeos and bull riding events, horse shows, livestock contests and jumping-horse competitions to hundreds of vendors, nearly 1,000 booths for fans to explore and a Western art exhibit, visitors can eat, drink and be merry for days on end.

“The National Western is known as the Super Bowl of livestock shows and is unique to us in Denver,” National Western President and CEO Paul Andrews says. “These elements and many more are an important factor when comparing the National Western Stock Show to anything else across the country. We are more than a show that occurs in Denver each year, we are part of the fabric of the city.”

The horse show at the National Western, by itself, is a one-of-a-kind event that rivals the nation’s other major horse shows.

“Based on number of horse entries, we are one of the largest horse shows in North America with over 13,000 entries in 2012,” Andrews says.

Visitors can also see draft horses, a Wild West show, 4-H-sponsored events and mutton bustin’ – where kids get to ride sheep in the rodeo arena – and can buy anything from jewelry, art and clothing to agricultural products and equipment at the trade show. Throw in a “wine & roses” event, a performance by the “Super Dogs” canine entertainers and a grand prix jumping horses event that features a total purse of more than $30,000, and the options seem limitless.

“Our historic ‘Yards’ are one of a kind and provide a place for consumers and producers from around the world to buy, sell and learn from each other,” Andrews says.

Fans can get a taste of professional rodeo at its best during the show’s Professional Bull Riders (PBR) events and the state’s largest Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA)-sponsored rodeo, where the top cowboys and cowgirls from coast to coast battle for fame and big pay days.

“Our rodeo excitement, trade show offerings and the atmosphere created throughout the grounds to celebrate our Western heritage is very special throughout the 16 days in January,” Andrews says.

Education is a large part of the National Western and what it does for the community. The stock show will award more than 70 scholarships for students to pursue agricultural-related majors at nearly a dozen colleges and universities.

“The NWSS is founded on our educational purpose, and we are proud that nearly 20,000 students from all over Colorado are part of our show each year to learn about agriculture and how food is raised or grown,” Andrews says.

There will be new policies and promotions for the 2013 event geared toward bringing more people to the stock show, according to Andrews.

“We have changed many aspects of our show this year in our attempt to be the most fan-friendly event in the country,” he says. “Parking will be free with every ticket purchase. In addition, we have created a ‘Fan Appreciation Day’ on Jan. 27 where all grounds admission tickets will be reduced to $8.

“We are currently marketing our newest holiday pack known as the ‘Deck The Stalls’ four-pack for only $99. Changes to our rodeos and to year two of our opening day of rodeos known as ‘Colorado vs. World’ – where champions from various Colorado rodeos challenge champions from all over the world – will be a great way to launch our event on Jan. 12.”

Being a more economical entertainment option than other professional sporting events throughout the state is part of the National Western’s appeal and a reason why people keep coming back year after year.

“We offer high-quality entertainment at a fair price,” Andrews says. “With free parking this year and our grounds admission starting at only $8 on the final Sunday of the show, we have something for everyone.”