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The Last 25 Years: 1981–2006

The Last 25 Years at the National Western: 1981-2006

EDITORS NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of four articles recounting the colorful history of the National Western Stock Show, Rodeo and Horse Show, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2006.

By Keith and Cheryl Chamberlain

Had they visited the National Western’s diamond jubilee in 1981, Stock Show founders would have been mighty pleased. From their initial six-day offering in 1906 the show had nearly doubled in length. Livestock entry numbers and attendance figures had exploded and the Coliseum and Hall of Education would have seemed like dreams come true compared to the bigtop that housed the first shows. Were they to drop in again for the 100th Stock Show, the changes since 1981 would be even more staggering, for it’s in the last quarter-century that the National Western Stock Show, Rodeo and Horse Show has taken on its modern form.

Growing the National Western

Chuck Sylvester’s lifetime of experience at the National Western encompasses its growth from a mid-sized affair, held mostly for livestock growers, into today’s multi-faceted extravaganza. Chuck figures he first attended the Stock Show as a three-year-old back in 1941. He showed his first steer in 1952 and 10 years later was mighty proud to receive his first paycheck bearing the National Western brand as a group leader for the high school and collegiate judging contests. By the end of the 1960s he was the superintendent for all the youth judging contests– 4-H, FFA, and collegiate– for all the cattle, sheep, hogs and horses shown in junior divisions. Then General Manager Willard Simms began tabbing him for special projects like the meat judging contest and private treaty bull sales in the stockyards. He went full time in 1975, revamping the rundown pens in the yards when the National Western began buying them from the fading Denver Union Stockyards Company.

Sylvester got his biggest assignment of all in 1978 when he succeeded Simms as General Manager. His tenure lasted 25 years and by the time he retired in 2003, the National Western had been transformed. “Probably the nicest compliment that Willard Simms ever paid me is that he admired my willingness to take a chance,” explains Sylvester. First thing, figuring to boost attendance, he lengthened the show from 10 to 11 days. Growing a day or two at a time, by 1996 he’d stretched it to 16 days, a span that encompasses three weekends. It worked. Under Sylvester’s leadership, yearly attendance nearly doubled and now regularly tops 600,000.

When asked about his biggest successes, Sylvester replies, “Definitely that increase in attendance.” In the world of Stock Show finance, monies coming in from exhibitor entry fees go back out again as prizes in winners’ pockets. Breaking even is generally about the best you can do. Revenue for growth must come elsewhere. “You couldn’t have just a livestock show today,” Sylvester explains. “You’ve got to have those people buying tickets– gate admission and seat tickets. That’s the revenue you use to expand the show and the facilities.” “The gate” makes the difference between red ink and black, and for the National Western that means city folks.

A 1980 study showed that two-thirds of the guests coming through the turnstiles are from the six-county Denver metropolitan area and if they don’t turn out it hurts. When folks stayed home to watch the Dallas Cowboys clobber the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII, the show was thrown for a $100,000 revenue loss. “The study also showed that we were not getting our fair share of urban people compared to some of the other major shows around the country,” says Sylvester. Prior to the 1980s, “it truly was just a convention, a trade show for people within the livestock and horse industries. I set about changing that and trying to have events that drew more urban people.” Horse shows had been around since 1907 and rodeos since 1931, but the variety of entertainments and commercial exhibits that characterize the show today are Sylvester’s doing. “Now the public is invited to come in and participate, be entertained and educated,” he says.

The draft horse show, the Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza, the Wild West Show and An Evening of Dancing Horses are among Sylvester’s attendance-boosting innovations. There were some rough spots, however. Opening weekend attendance got things off to a good start, but there followed a troublesome slump. “Monday and Tuesday following that first weekend were a real void,” he says. “We tried everything– family fun nights in the Stadium Arena, variety nights in the Coliseum. We just had mediocre success until we put the Professional Bull Riding in there and that did it. Regardless of what night you have it, it draws people. It was so successful that we expanded it to three nights.”

Sylvester also added new critters. Cattle have been at the heart of the Stock Show since 1906, but even their greatest admirers concede that they’re not awfully charismatic. “You know how the beef animals are displayed down in the tie stalls– you go along and look at the butt end. How many butts do you want to look at?” Chuck asks rhetorically. “After you go up and down a row or two, you think, ‘What else is there?’” It turned out to be Miniature Horses, stock dogs, llamas, yaks, Longhorns and bison. “That’s what was added to switch it from a Stock Show for just people in the livestock industry to urban people as well,” Sylvester explains. “A large percentage of urban families have a pet in their homes and they can more readily identify with a Miniature Horse or a dog or a llama than they can these big beef animals.”

Adding days and animals means building a schedule and that’s where Livestock Manager James Goodrich comes in. The affable rancher is the National Western’s answer to Noah. Be they Longhorns, Leghorns, bison or bunnies, Goodrich and his staff fit them aboard for the show’s 16-day voyage. The schedule is a complicated machine with plenty of moving parts. “People think that everybody just shows up and it happens,” Goodrich says with a hearty laugh. “Everything revolves around that schedule. It’s very critical. Trying to balance out the attendance throughout the entire show and keep activities going for the entire run, that’s the biggest challenge.” Variety and full days are crucial to keeping things lively for folks coming through the turnstile.

In the middle of the show’s run, the Martin Luther King holiday weekend sees huge crowds and Goodrich tries to entice visitors on the other weekends as well. “If there’s something we can stick in there and if it’s viable and it’s new, we’ll go for it,” he says.

Popular additions in recent years have been smaller breeds of cattle and Boer goats. Even elk appeared at the show for a time. Free entertainments like the dog agility games and the antique tractor show have also become crowd pleasers.

Breed associations of every sort see Stock Show crowds as an opportunity to promote their animals and Goodrich says the National Western keeps an open mind. “If we think they’re credible, we’ll give them a chance if the opportunity on the schedule is there.”

When horse show halter classes moved from the historic Stadium Arena into the newly opened Events Center in 1995 new realms opened, says Goodrich. “That made a big difference. We could add a lot of things that had been wanting to come in.” He spread out the cattle shows, moved the popular hog and lamb championship selections into the Stadium Arena and brought in sheepdog trials.

Horses Get A New Home

In 1989 the National Western’s Pat Grant, then a member of the executive committee and these days the president and CEO, chaired a successful drive to convince Denver voters to approve $30 million in bonds to expand Stock Show exhibit space and build the Events Center. With 240,000 square feet, seating for over 5,000, and 354 stalls for equine guests, the state-of-the-art Events Center opened in 1995 and vaulted the National Western to the forefront of the nation’s horse show arenas. “It’s a wonderful entertainment venue,” enthuses Renee Elkins, who along with her husband Dauane, runs horse shows. “It’s a very exhibitor-friendly pen, more so than almost any other place in the nation.”

Americans own seven million horses and horse shows are booming. The Events Center has put Denver on the dance card for major equine affairs. A full week before the Stock Show opens, Quarter Horse fanciers arrive with their spirited mounts and mountains of tack for the Pre-Denver Circuit, which began in 1989. Sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association, it raises the curtain on 16 days of horse shows. On opening day, the Quarter Horse folks stick around for a second show which includes the crowd-pleasing freestyle reining. They’ll be followed in the arena by the American Paint Horse Association show. Events spill over into the Coliseum with team penning and cutting horse competitions. Come the middle weekend, stalls are filled with leggy hunters and jumpers and the United States Equestrian Federation open show with Arabians, Saddlebreds, Appaloosas and much more. Along the way, sell-out crowds will also enjoy performances of the Wild West Show and An Evening of Dancing Horses. The dramatic climax comes when the gentle giants arrive for the final weekend.

In a spectacle not seen at the Stock Show for 40 years, draft horse lovers standing at the rail in the Stadium Arena in 1981 could feel the floor shake as six-horse hitches of perfectly groomed Clydesdales, Percherons and Belgians rumbled past. With heads high, nostrils flaring and hooves pounding in unison, the high-stepping teams were a hit. “I can remember the crowds that packed that Stadium,” recalls Randy Witte, publisher of Western Horseman. “It was instantly popular.”

Fancy draft horse rigs had appeared during rodeos in the Coliseum for years, but in 1981 Stock Show brass brought back a full-blown draft horse show, complete with halter and performance classes, a pulling contest, an auction and fancy hitch competition. The nights of the big teams packed the seats. In the confines of the 1908 Stadium, a six-up hitch was the limit for size. The magnificent eight-horse turnouts waited until 1995 and the Events Center’s bigger arena. Following that inaugural show, the editor of the Draft Horse Journal wrote, “I have attended fairs and livestock shows literally all of my life. NEVER, EVER, have I seen so much public enthusiasm for a livestock event.” Twenty-five years later, the draft horse show is still bringing thrills for Denver audiences.

The big horses move in on the final Thursday, and for four days the public swarms around the stalls to watch glossy black Percherons, tassel-hooved Clydesdales, and russet Belgians being groomed to perfection. Ribbons are braided into manes and tails and hooves are painted shiny black. Harnesses and wagons are buffed to a high sheen. The Events Center is packed as drama peaks on the final afternoon of competition. Thundering hooves, jingling harnesses and rumbling wheels announce the entrance of the eight-horse hitches, a moment that brings the crowd to its feet. In recent years the draft horse show has attracted nearly 20 hitches, almost all sponsored by businesses– the total value of horse flesh, harness and wagon for an eight-horse rig can run upwards of $100,000.

The show also has room for the more modest budget, however. When they’ve been judged, the big rigs cede the arena to grittier competitors. Unlike the groomed-to-the-max show horses, the big drafts in the pulling contest are wearing shaggy winter coats and handlers’ attire runs toward overalls and work caps. Lunging in the harness at the teamster’s command, two-horse teams drag a sandbag-laden sled across the arena floor. In this test of raw strength, teams fall away as more sandbags are added with each successive round. The team to make 40 feet with the heaviest load collects the prize and the bragging rights.

A Brave New World in the Cattle Barns

Down in the cattle barns a stylish blond in skin-tight jeans tiptoes gingerly through the cow pies to pat a threequarter-ton bull on the head. She and her friends giggle as they sashay on down the aisle while a bemused rancher shakes his head and smiles. Tomorrow he’ll spend half the day fussing over that bull with a blower, clippers, hair spray and a Scotch comb and it’s the city gals who’ll be shaking their heads. Fitting, as all that fancy grooming is known, is a relatively recent arrival at National Western cattle shows. “Used to be, it was none of this halter stuff, none of this clipping,” says Mark Mills, whose family has shown Hereford bulls here for over eight decades. “It was just the bull turned loose in the pen and you sold him.”

“A highly fitted animal is in a beauty contest,” says James Goodrich. “They have been fed very well to have a lot of body condition. The hair has been groomed over a long period of time to get that hair coat extremely attractive. There’s a lot of grooming compounds and clipping used on ‘em prior to show time.” The full-body coiffure is but one of many changes in the past quarter of a century.

In earlier decades, the exhibitor with a farmer’s tan and manure on his boots showed workaday cattle, mostly bulls, in the stockyards while outfits with trendier critters occupied the show barns on the Hill. “They used to be two very distinct groups,” says Goodrich. “The lines were starting to get blurred by the time I started in 1984. Now it’s very much the same type of exhibitor in both places. We also have a different type of owner showing beef cattle than we did years ago.” It’s a diverse group. Today’s exhibitor is more likely to own a car dealership or construction company and be in the purebred beef cattle business as a sideline. Stockmen like Mark Mills are a minority at the National Western.

The cattle themselves have changed plenty, too. After a 60-year Angus-Hereford-Shorthorn monopoly, creamy white Charolais from France arrived in 1966, the vanguard for other Europeans. The so-called Continentals have proliferated and at the 100th Stock Show the barns will host 19 breeds. The city slicker who can’t tell one from another needn’t feel sheepish. Even veteran stockmen can mistake a Limousin for a Maine-Anjou thanks in part to the highly successful certified Angus beef marketing program. Limousin, Tarentaise and Gelbvieh immigrated to America with red coats. Simmentals and Maine-Anjou were red and white. Through selective breeding they’re mostly Angus look-alikes now– massive, meaty and black.

And the latest trend? “A lot of breed associations are promoting composite breeds,” says Goodrich, “a mixture of their breed and Angus mostly.” The genetic results are copyrighted and their promoters have pressed for their own judged divisions.

Bucking beefy fashion, more modestly proportioned Miniature Herefords and Lowlines have begun showing in the last few years. Breed proponents tend to be small-acreage operators who say they cater to consumers wanting smaller cuts of meat. No matter who’s eating them, they’ve become favorites with Stock Show visitors.

The revolution in show cattle has been delivered by scientific breeding. In 1959, businessman Carl Vail and veterinarian Earl Smith came to the Stock Show preaching the gospel of artificial insemination from their booth in the Stadium Arena. It was a hard sell. “We were there from 7 a.m. until the rodeo shut down around 10 or 11 p.m.,” recalls Vail. “It was a challenge. The beef breeders looked at us and said, ‘Oh yeah, how about that. Isn’t that fun.’” The pair’s belief in scientific breeding has been vindicated. Today’s cattle show is a high-tech world of genetic databases and cryogenics. Many exhibitors are here to compete in the show ring and promote bloodlines, not to sell their animals. The herd sires are sperm donors who’ll never be turned loose in a pastureful of frolicsome heifers, and well-bred cows will donate artificially inseminated embryos to surrogate birth mothers.

At high-end cattle auctions, bidders are as likely to be vying for straws of frozen semen or embryo flushes as for the animal pacing the sale ring and they may also be competing with bidders participating via the Internet or cell phone. It takes a knowledgeable stockman to decipher the obtuse lingo in the sale catalog. Calving ease; birth, weaning and yearling weights; scrotal circumference and semen production; ribeye area and intramuscular marbling– all are rendered as numeric scores and toted up for easy comparison.

The Enthusiasm of Youth

“I’m one heck of a showman,” boasts 12-year-old Garrett Grasmick as he flashes a blue-ribbon smile. He pats Elmer, the Boer goat he’s brought to the 2004 show and cautions, “One thing he likes to do is bite clothes.” Bailey, Garrett’s 11-year-old sister, shows off her goat, Brent. “He acts like a goofball and he’s strong, too! He has a sweet personality when he wants to.” She’s an accomplished exhibitor, too. “She beat me at the State Fair,” grumps Garrett, “but she ain’t beatin’ me this year!” Sibling rivalry aside, they agree that they like meeting new friends at the Stock Show. “We’ve talked to a lot of people. It’s been a great experience,” they say.

Decked out in new jeans and crisp western shirts, the Grasmick kids are poster children for all that’s right about the National Western’s junior show. The La Junta pair bought their goats in October and have spent the intervening months getting them ready. Launched in 2000 when meat goats were becoming more popular in eastern U.S. niche markets, the meat goat division is the junior show’s fastest growing segment. From fewer than 75 animals shown that inaugural year, entries have doubled and are now limited by available pen space. There’s an open division for breeding stock and a junior market division for critters that will become chops, roasts and steaks when the judging is done.

Chris Scott, the superintendent of the goat show, says a blue ribbon is not his goal for the kids, aged 9 to 19. The competition teaches teamwork, communication and leadership and instills the values of good sportsmanship and responsibility. The kids are encouraged to take sole responsibility for the care, feeding and health of their animals as they try to raise the best market meat goat possible. At the show, supervisors are alert for signs of too much parental involvement in grooming and preparation for the ring. Assistant superintendent Larry Hooker says, “In 4H and FFA we have a saying that it’s better to have a red-ribbon project from a blue-ribbon kid than the other way around.”

Youth divisions first came to the National Western in 1919 and today hundreds of youngsters compete with lambs, hogs, goats and steers. The show teaches kids to prepare an animal for market and all entries go to slaughter when the judging is done. The species shows run three days each and divide the animals into breed and weight classes. Every youthful exhibitor dreams of making the sale, but fewer than 100 of them will. The Auction of Junior Livestock Champions, held on the last Friday night of the Stock Show, is a televised event where division winners and grand and reserve champions fetch big money.

The man responsible for the auction is George G. Hutchison, chairman of the Auction of Junior Livestock Champions committee. He and a band of loyal volunteers organize the sale and their efforts have revolutionized the junior show. “This whole sale process was always there but the money, publicity and influence have grown,” he says. “The last 20 years have been really an explosion.” Under their guidance, sales totals have doubled in recent years to reach the halfmillion-dollar mark, boosting entries. Prospective exhibitors enter a drawing for the limited pen space.

While other junior shows accept entries only from their home state or region, the National Western is open to all comers. Some years it’s attracted entries from 25 states and the competition’s gotten fierce. “It’s very tough. The quality of the livestock has really increased,” says Hutchison. “To compete at National Western you have to have the finest breeding you can come by.”

The sale of grand and reserve champions in each species has been televised since 1994, first by Channel 7 and now by 9News. The Beef Palace Auction Arena is packed for the event as bidders vie for the honor of taking home the bacon. “It’s all in good style and friendship,” Hutchison says. “Everybody wants these kids to go away happy.” Winning bids for grand champion steer have hovered near $100,000 in recent years, with top hog, lamb and goat fetching about $25,000, $18,000 and $13,000, respectively. The sale of division winners continues after the cameras leave with a bevy of buyers and a price floor ensuring that every animal brings a good price. “No kid gets left hanging in this deal,” Hutchison declares.

Well Coiffed Chickens and 20-Pound Bunnies

She cradles the cockrel on its back in the crook of her arm. The Modern Game Bantam’s eyelids droop and it seems to doze off. With a small artist’s brush Janice Huff of La Junta gently dabs a concoction of Avon Skin So Soft and witch hazel onto the placid rooster’s comb, wattles, earlobes and beak. The ruby red folds of skin begin to glow softly. “It conditions the skin,” she says, “and it keeps him looking good for three days.” When she finishes grooming the head, she goes to work on the other end. With a soft damp cloth she meticulously cleans the rooster’s feet. “You don’t want your judge to pick up a bird with poopy feet.” A few deft nips with a nail clipper trims up his toenails, then she wields a pair of tweezers. “We’ve got some feathers where feathers shouldn’t be,” she explains as she gently plucks a few nubbins from between his toes. The rooster slips into an even deeper trance. When she’s groomed the feet, Janice treats the legs and feet with the same skin conditioner she used on the head.

Janice’s daughter, Bailee Kaufman, is a poultry exhibitor par excellence and a pretty good horsewoman, as well. “We put 80,000 miles a year on the truck going to chicken shows and rodeos,” quips mom. Bailee is the picture of youthful enthusiasm as she practices for the junior showmanship class. She’s wearing an immaculate white show jacket adorned with poultry patches and in her outstretched hand she cradles a gangly pullet. Coaching a friend on the finer points of showing chickens, she rattles off the monologue she’ll deliver to the judge, ticking off a list of chicken body parts that Colonel Sanders never heard of. The chicken’s cute, but Bailee’s the real star.

In 2005, Janice, Bailee and her brother, Tyber, participated in the National Western’s biggest poultry show in years. Birds were huge at earlier Stock Shows and a cocky chicken exhibitor might claim seniority over rodeo cowboys (they didn’t arrive until 1931) and cattlemen (kept at home in 1915 by hoof and mouth disease). The chickens, pigeons, turkeys, geese and ducks went on without them. In recent years, the Colorado Poultry Association held its judging the day before the Stock Show opened and left a token exhibit to entertain the public, but in 2005, they rejoined the show and exhibitors brought nearly 500 birds in a reprise of earlier times.

Whether they’re showing behemoth bulls or pint-sized poultry, exhibitors at the National Western all agree that one of their most important missions is informing the public. “We’re doing a lot of education at these shows,” Huff says. “We’ve had people who were afraid to touch the eggs because they thought they’d catch Salmonella. They can’t.”

Michiele Jones, who has been superintendent of the rabbit show for over 20 years, is on the same page. “I love educating the public,” she says. “People are so fascinated by how many breeds there are and the differences in size. We want to make sure that people realize that rabbits aren’t just this little pet. They are a multi-purpose farm animal, just like cattle,” for their meat, pelts and fertilizer. “We love having baby bunnies here and we just literally plop a bunny into a kid’s lap. It might be the very first time they’ve ever touched anything like that.”

Rabbit shows at the National Western date to an era when even city folks raised rabbits. “It was more your big meat breeds than your foo-foos,” says Jones. Before construction of the Hall of Education in 1971, rabbits and poultry occupied nearly the entire second floor of a three-story exhibit barn. “They’d have 1,000 rabbits in one long room and could easily have as many as 1,000 birds there also.”

These days, the rabbit exhibit features about 50 bunnies, but it’s still a highlight for visitors of all ages. Cages contain everything from two-pound Netherlands Dwarfs to hefty French Lops, and in 2006 there will be some rare breeds. “I paid an arm and a leg for some Tans,” laughs Jones, who concedes that she’s paid up to $1,000 for one rabbit. She’s also bringing Samson, a Flemish Giant that tips the scales at 22 pounds. “It’s something special for the 100th year.” Europeans raise the big bunnies as the equivalent of our Thanksgiving turkey.

Rabbits are one of the few farm animals that can still be legally raised in the back yard, according to Jones, and most years Stock Show visitors purchase at least 250 of them, ranging in price from $20 to $100. “We teach people how to take care of them properly.” Sales include a money-back guarantee, a bunny care instruction book, a bag of food and telephone numbers to call in case of trouble. “We’re always there,” concludes Jones.

The Art of the National Western

Folks in the Coors Western Art Exhibit have literally rolled out the red carpet for Stock Show visitors. A broad swath of crimson leads right to the gallery’s front door on the third floor of the Expo Hall. Crossing the threshold, visitors enter a serene refuge from the hurly-burly that prevails elsewhere on the grounds. More than 200 works of art depicting western lifestyles, cultures, landscapes and wildlife are displayed and lighted just so. Music plays quietly in the background.

The Coors Western Art Exhibit and Sale originated in 1993 in an effort to bring a little culture to the Stock Show. At the first exhibit, organized by executive wives from the Coors brewing firm, invited guests attended a kick-off party for some after-dinner browsing. “We were so afraid that nobody would come or have money to spend,” recalls Janie Hutchison, who organizes gallery volunteers. She needn’t have fretted. The patrons bought over $25,000-worth of art. “It’s worked out very well,” she says.

The second show featured 136 works by 34 artists and when it was over everyone knew the show had legs. The National Western took it over and brought aboard curator Ann Daley and coordinator and public relations specialist Rebecca Crosby. “Our mission was to have the best small western art exhibit in the nation,” recalls Crosby. “Ann did such a great job of selecting artists that we almost sold out.” Bringing in fresh artists each year, creating the People’s Choice Award and keeping affordable works in the mix were a recipe for success and the show has grown steadily. In 2006, gallery visitors will enjoy some 200 paintings, etchings, photographs and sculptures by 53 top western artists.

As curator since 1997, Rose Fredrick has helped shape that growth. “We’re striving to show the best that’s out there,” she says. “We definitely have a terrific reputation in the art community and we’re really seen as a growing show.” Mainstays among Fredrick’s sought-after stable of artists are sculptors Ken Bunn and T.D. Kelsey, painters Cary Ennis, Len Chmiel and Jim Morgan and renowned photographer Barbara Van Cleve. Fredrick also seeks out emerging artists. “We are always introducing new artists to the public, which is an unusual thing for any show to do. Also, when selecting artists I try to find those with their own individual voice so they each stand on their own.” Kelsey, whose bronzes depict cowboy culture, has shown in the gallery since 2000. “They’ve got some of the best artists in the country,” he says. “To get invited there is a feather in your cap and there are artists in the wings waiting to get invited. It’s that good of a show.”

“I want the exhibit to be as broad as possible within the western art genre,” explains Fredrick, who likes to surprise gallery visitors and give them something to think about. “Part of our mission is to educate people about good art.” The collection’s focus is representational art but she likes to push boundaries. “There are patrons who love photorealism, but there are also people who want splashy color. They want contemporary and they like that it’s western; they like that it’s of this region.”

More than 800 patrons attend the red carpet reception that launches the show and visitors stream through the gallery all during the National Western’s run. “We get close to 40,000 people seeing the show. That doesn’t happen even in a lot of museum settings,” says Fredrick. The reception, with its lottery-style drawing for a crack at the first chance to purchase, also jumpstarts sales. “We attract a great bunch of buyers,” says Fredrick. “They know what they like and they come prepared to buy,” adds Kelsey. In 2005 they spent over $500,000 and sales for the whole show topped $600,000, a hefty chunk of which went toward scholarships.

The National Western Scholarship program was born in 1983 with three $1,000 scholarships for agriculture students at Colorado State University and the University of Wyoming. The program has flourished and each year it now makes a $200,000-plus investment in young people majoring in agricultural science or preparing for rural nursing or medical careers. Sixty-one scholarships ranging from $2,500 to $5,500 each are awarded to students at eight universities, colleges and community colleges in Colorado and Wyoming.

Eligible applicants are those who have participated in such National Western activities as showing livestock, competing in high school or collegiate judging contests or being part of an approved 4-H or FFA project. Members of the Westernaires and kids in the National Western volunteer program can also apply. The nest egg behind the project is the National Western Scholarship Trust. Its monies are derived from the annual Citizen of the West Award Dinner, the Coors Western Art Exhibit and Sale, the Auction of Junior Livestock Champions, the Boots and Business luncheon and individual memorials and contributions.

The National Western at 100

When the first Stock Show was held in a tent back in 1906, Theodore Roosevelt was President, sirloin was 10 cents a pound, and the automobile age was just dawning. As the National Western rounds out a century of growth, there are reasons aplenty for celebration. In 2006, well over 600,000 folks will likely attend and 12,000-plus entries will delight visitors while facing the scrutiny of judges and prospective buyers. Some 18,000 wide-eyed school kids will come on field trips and the rodeos and bull riding will attract 700 cowboys and cowgirls. The show will offer over 40 ticketed rodeos, horse shows and other entertainments and there will be banquets, luncheons, breed association meetings and other gatherings in numbers beyond counting. As they have since day one, reporters will converge on the January extravaganza to report on the doings. All of which would amaze and gratify those visionaries who launched the affair a century ago.

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