It's time to pull out those cowboy hats and boots as the National Western Stock Show begins its 108th year. After a parade through downtown Denver today, the NWSS will start in earnest on Saturday, running through January 26 at the National Western Complex. In addition to professional rodeos, Colorado's largest horse show and a huge trade show, the sixteen-day NWSS features a variety of yeehaw-worthy events; here are ten of them.
10) National Western Stock Show Kick Off Parade Noon, January 9 17th Street starting at Union Station The Stock Show's kickoff parade is a treasured tradition -- and a great sight on the streets of downtown Denver. Over 100 Texas longhorn cattle will saunter down 17th Street, accompanied by various two-legged politicians and celebrities. Following the parade, there will be a BBQ lunch in the atrium of the Wells Fargo building, 1700 Lincoln Street; meal tickets cost $10 and benefit the 4-H National Youth Group.
Every year ten kids are cheered on as they work to catch the sponsored calves running through the arena. But once a child catches a calf, his or her work is not over. During the next year the participants feed and care for the animals, and the calves are judged at the next Stock Show on the basis of their carcass quality and weight gain. The participants are judged, too, for showmanship, their record book, and a personal interview. The winner of last year's contest will be announced in the stadium arena at 10 a.m. on January 12. And you can see future champions at Catch a Calf Contests and the morning and matinee rodeos on January 18 and matinee and evening rodeos on the January 20.8) Super Dogs 2 p.m. January 20, 6:30 p.m. January 21 Events Center
Super Dogs have been a big hit at the NWSS. The troupe includes twenty talented dogs trained to run at incredible speeds and jump to miraculous heights. the event is a family favorite.
7) Martin Luther King Jr. African-American Heritage Rodeo 6 p.m. January 20 Denver Coliseum Many cowboys working in the Wild West were African-American -- and Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a perfect day to honor them with a visit to the rodeo. Black cowboys and cowgirls will compete in the Pony Express relay, ladies' steer un-decorating contest and other beloved rodeo events. Hold your horses! Keep reading for more rodeo events.6) Mutton Bustin' Stadium Arena
The younguns' can get in on the fun, too! In mutton-bustin', a sport that originated at the NWSS, five-to-seven-year-olds who are under 55 pounds are seated on the back of sheep that are then set loose from the bucking chutes. The kids wear helmets, and no matter who holds on longest, they all get a prize.5) Team Penning January 14-15 Denver Coliseum
This fast-paced rodeo event is a nail-biter as a team consisting of three works to sort three animals from a herd of cattle and get them into their pens.4) Colorado Fiddle Championships All day January 11 and 12 Beef Palace Auction Arena
Not into typical rodeo events? The Colorado Old Time Fiddler's Association will be at the NWSS for the twelfth straight year, with musicians of all ages performing during two full days of competition judged by professional musicians Laura Cash, Bubba Hopkins and Sherry McKenzie. The champion will receive a $1500 cash prize.Hold your horses! There are still more events coming.3) Military Appreciation Night 7 p.m. January 21 Denver Coliseum
The NWSS is offering Colorado-based military members and their families free tickets to this rodeo, which will feature the traditional events with a patriotic twist.2) Wild West Show 5 p.m. January 18, 4 p.m. January19 Events Center
More than a century ago, Buffalo Bill Cody toured his Wild West Show around the world, creating many of the symbols of the West that continue today. The spirit of those shows lives on at the NWSS, with productions that include performances by dance-hall girls and a six-horse stagecoach hold-up.
1) Free Admission Day! Tuesday, January 21 MetroPCS, a no-annual-contract wireless brand, is a new partner to the National Western -- and will pick up the tab for all grounds admissions tickets on January 21. Although that ticket won't get you into the rodeo, it will get you just about everywhere else, including the livestock show, Activity Pavilion, CSU Ag Adventure, Petting Farm, Coors Western Art Exhibit & Sale and all over the trade show. Yeehaw!
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For more information on National Western Stock Show events and tickets, go to the NWSS website.