Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

National Western Stock Show corrals the Rodeo All-Star Weekend

Yee-haw! The National Western Stock Show has saddled up for the future. Although NWSS chairman Jerry McMorris passed away yesterday, leaders went through with the announcement of a deal that will help steer the direction of the Stock Show, expanding it beyond an every-January event into more of a year-round proposition.

Next April, the inaugural Rodeo All-Star Weekend will gallop into the National Western Stock Show Complex. The three-day event will include seven competitions featuring the world's top rodeo athletes, both male and female, plus demonstrations, live music, exhibits (and shopping opportunities!), parties and a $128,000 grand prize. The fun will start with a launch party on Thursday, April 4, at the Grizzly Rose, co-starring the 128 contestants chosen -- by top rodeo committees, as well as fans -- to be Rodeo All Stars.

Two rodeo stars were on hand for yesterday's announcement, as was Cary Kennedy, deputy mayor of Denver (Michael Hancock is in Iceland, so that he can be on the inaugural flight into Denver International Airport), and Kelly Brough, head of the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce.

The plan calls for this to be much more than a one-time boost for the Stock Show. The NWSS owns the rights to Rodeo All-Star Weekend and plans to continue hosting the event in metro Denver every year.

"Rodeo started in Deer Trail, Colorado, in 1869," said Paul Andrews, CEO of the NWSS, at yesterday's announcement -- a fact we pointed out in our recent list of the top ten oddest Colorado town nicknames. "The first rodeo at National Western was held in 1931. Rodeo All-Star Weekend marks another historic rodeo event for Colorado.... We're creating a new tradition at the National Western Stock Show Complex and are excited to offer another tourism staple for Denver."

And Kennedy and Brough were excited to get another tourism staple. "Denver is so proud to be part of the rodeo legacy," said Kennedy. Brough touted the "bull market" such an event brings, with as many as 30,000 people producing $20 million in economic value.

Next April's Pro-Rodeo Weekend will be at the National Western Stock Show Complex. And where will future weekends be? The announcement ceremony neatly sidestepped that question, as the future home of the NWSS is still up in the air -- almost literally, since the Colorado Department of Transportation is now considering an option that would involve taking down the I-70 viaduct, paving the way for the possibility of future expansion from its current footprint. But other Stock Show boosters would like to see the NWSS move out of the site it's occupied for more than a century, into one with more room for growth...perhaps even outside of Denver city limits.

But that was a discussion for another day. Out of respect, McMorris's condition was not mentioned from the podium, either. And later in the day, the Stock Show issued this statement on the passing of Jerry McMorris:

We were sad to learn today of the passing of the Chairman of the Western Stock Show Association, Jerry McMorris. Jerry served as Chairman for six years and on the Executive Committee for eighteen years. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this difficult time.

"Jerry McMorris was one of the great leaders of our time. It was an honor to learn from Jerry and witness his passion for the Western way of life and the values we at Stock Show represent. He will be sorely missed," said Paul Andrews, President and CEO.

Paul Andrews will step in as interim Chairman until the annual meeting is held on May 18, 2012. At that time the Nominating Committee, with the support of the Executive Committee, will put forth a nomination for Chairman.

An event collects a lot of history over 107 years. Read more about it in our post "National Western Stock Show's past should be part of the discussion of its future."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun