National Western Stock Show

Every January is the National Western Stock Show, a Colorado tradition for 110 years. Denver is full of cowboys, ranchers and farmers who come to buy, sell or show their livestock.  Some come to ride in the rodeo or see the latest equipment in ranching.

I remember going over thirty years ago with my Grandpa Ray, a farmer from Iowa, to an auction.  I thought it was so cool to hear the auctioneer talk ridiculously fast and see Grandpa tap his hat to place a bid.  I remembered it being a special day and wanted to share it with my boys.  So…off on an adventure we went!

It begins with a parade through downtown Denver…Western style.

I love this photo, not sure who to give credit to. If you know, please let me know!

The huge tractor by the front door had all the boys very excited!  Don’t they look cute in their cowboy outfits?

cowboys-in-front-of-John-Deere

When we walked in we were greeted by this huge bull!  His horns were very intimidating.

big-horns-on-a-bull

This cowboy was posing with the horse for pictures.

take-your-pic-with-a-cowboy

Next we went over to the tradeshow…my youngest was in heaven looking at all the equipment!  Here he is trying to negotiate why we need one of these for the back yard.

john-deere

Down in the arena was a Hunter/Jumper competition. The kids loving getting waves and smiles from the riders as they went by the fence.

hunter-jumper-competition

The animals were beautiful!

horse-candid

A young girl who wasn’t competing that morning, asked my boys if they’d like to meet her horse.  How cute!

kids-meeting-a-horse

Our secret horse whisperer.  He stopped to pet and talk to almost every one we passed.

hi-there-buddy

petting-a-horse

ready-to-compete

Getting beautiful for competition.

another-handsome-horse4-H was teaching the kids about animals, but the boys only loved that this one is called an ass. Silly kids.

donkey

This mama pig had nine piglets.

mama-and-piglets

It was a big day for cattle shows.  You never know who’ll you’ll cross paths with!

cow-on-way-to-show

Walking through the cattle barns is chaotic.  All the animals are getting prepped for showing. That includes baths, brushes, blow dryers, hair trims and polished hooves.

cows-getting-groomed

Once all clean, they have to stay that way until time for the judging.

cows-ready-to-go

And find a clean place to grab a snack.

cow-snacking

And if you tend to be naughty and like to roll in manure right after a bath…a short leash.

cow-face

Ranchers from all over bring the best of their herds to compete.

ranch signs

frank herefords

buck cattle company

Ever wonder why bulls are shown with rings in their noses?  It’s not for fashion!  Their noses are incredibly sensitive and you can lead a giant bull that way. Which is pretty surprising considering their size!

bull-nose-ring

bull-ready-to-show

The cattle are brought into the arena for judging.

cattle-arena

And this is the criteria they are judged on.  (See last star on the sign below.)

stadium arena history

Want to know the difference between llamas and alpacas?  These are alpacas, they are only about 60lbs and are mostly raised for their wool.  They are smaller (and nicer) that llamas…who are sometimes used to also as protectors of smaller animals.  Like sheep, alpacas or chickens.

alpacas

The farmer said he has 120 alpacas on a ranch between Fort Collins and Cheyenne.  When we pet these guys, the wool was so thick that their backs were almost four inches below the fuzziness.  Think you want an alpaca?  Learn more here.

A fun activity for the smaller kids is the Pedal Tractor Races.

tractor-races

Several County Fair Queens were there to help run the event. Each kiddo said their name and age before climbing on a tractor.

giving-your-names

Thank goodness the kids got a push if needed…otherwise a lap could take forever!

tractor-race-getting-a-push

It wasn’t just for boys – tutus welcome!

intense-tractor-race

I would love to go back sometime and see a rodeo – like the pro bull riders!  But I think that was enough for one day for me to handle five energetic boys by myself.  If you would ever like to experience what life beyond being a city-slicker is like, take a trip to the Stock Show! It’s every January in Denver.

big-bull-with-hump-on-back