More than 600,000 people are expected to attend the 108th annual National Western Stock Show Jan. 11-26 . Often referred to as the “Super Bowl of Stock Shows,” things got started January 9th with the official kick-off parade through downtown Denver. With the exception of one wayward cow, the spectacle went off without any mishaps, according to The Denver Post.
The kick-off parade
This year’s parade featured 60 heads of cattle, with a combined weight of about 40,000 pounds. Stan Searle owns the stock. He told The Denver Post, “There is always a little risk when you get loose animals in front of thousands of people.” Long horns are intelligent animals; that makes them easier to work with and guide, according to Searle.
The parade is a crowd favorite and it was reestablished in 1985. Each year, the parade begins at Union Station and continues to 17th Street. There was also a Western Fashion Show and a BBQ lunch. Organizers add new events and attractions to the event on an ongoing basis, while still staying to true to the historic legacy.
Organized livestock events began in Denver in 1899. These events were sporadic until 1905. That is when executives from stockyard companies, cattlemen, and merchants of the Livestock Commission held their first meeting. The first show opened on January 29 , 1906 and approximately 15,000 people attended, according to the official website.
The first rodeo
The first North Western Stock Show Rodeo took place at the 25th show in 1931. Total prize money was $7,300. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza. Other features are Military Appreciation Night and the MLK Jr. African -American Heritage Rodeo.
Record breaking crowds
The first Martin Luther King, Jr. African-American Heritage Rodeo was at the 100th anniversary event in 2006. Attendance for the 16-day show was 726,972. Other events debuting that year were the activity tents with interactive educational area for children and a 1904 rail car that shows how cattle were moved in the early days of the event.
The largest opening day crowd was 27,793 in 2008; the first year of the American Quarter Horse Association Versatility Ranch Horse World Championship Show. That same year saw the largest single day attendance of 68,610.
Paul Andrews became President and Chief Executive Officer in 2011. This was also the premiere of the National Western Wild West Show. Despite severe cold and snow, attendance reached 644,818.
For ticket information and event schedules of the 2014 National Western Stock Show, visit nationalwestern.com