Back in Stock

As a Denver native, I take comfort in the unchanging landmarks and traditions that were part of the city back in my grandparents' and great-grandparents' day — like the National Western Stock Show, opening this morning at 9 a.m. at the National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt Street.

In the '50s and '60s, my father's family attended annually; they even entered my dad and his brother in a best-dressed-cowboy contest to win a pony. When I was a kid, we continued the tradition: My sister and I would coo over the rabbits and lambs, gasp at the massive bulls and constantly beg our parents for funnel cakes.

It was years before I attended as an adult, but every January, when the freezing Stock Show weather rolls in, I feel a desire to watch men risk their lives on the backs of bucking beasts. I finally bought a ticket to see the Mexican rodeo, and promptly fell in love with the pageantry and the costumes. I wandered around the trade show, stuffing my face with treats and coveting rhinestone belts. The next year, I checked out the Gambler's Choice competition and the Grand Prix, and I finally came to appreciate the strength and grace of horse jumping. This year I'm hoping to make it to the Wild West Show — which, according to the website, promises "shoot-'em-up antics and cowboy entertainment." I know as I watch the retro cowpokes, I'll imagine my dad in his pint-sized Western get-up, parading across the floor with thousands of other kids, dreaming of winning his very own pony.

To start making your own Stock Show memories, call 1-888-551-5004 or visit
Jan. 12-27; Sun., Jan. 13, 2008

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Michelle Baldwin