Lee Simmental Farms’ Lane Engelbrecht, right, helps guide the farms’ simmental cattle through the shows’ brand-new stockyards at the National Western Stock Show this month in Denver.

Visitors, newcomers and Colorado old-timers have nine more days to visit the country’s premier showcase of culture that defines the history and traditions of the Great American West. To not attend the National Western Stock Show is to not know the real Colorado.

To better understand what this nationally prominent event offers attendees and participants, think of a state fair, art exhibits, outdoor recreation expo, rodeo and livestock showcase combined on a grand scale. After a COVID-19 hiatus in 2021, the 113-year-old annual event began again Saturday and runs through Jan. 23.

Each year, aside from 2021, tens of thousands have traveled from across the country to convene at the event to view more than 15,000 animals, daily rodeos, dog shows, auctions, sales booths, bull-riding competitions, dancing horse shows, barrel racing, western art exhibits and more. The event brings people together who form lifelong friendships.

Because the American West was founded by people from around the globe, the stock show has long been a showcase of diversity that includes a Mexican rodeo, an African American Heritage rodeo and an abundance of Native American art.

Far from a diminishing remnant of Colorado’s more rural and agricultural past, the stock show has plans for significant expansion soon.

The National Western Center redevelopment, a multiphase project, will involve the revitalization of the South Platte River, the realignment of railroads and the addition of a Colorado State University academic center.

As explained on the National Western Stock Show’s website, the Honoring the Legacy campaign will focus on four core National Western facilities: the Legacy Building, the Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Livestock Center, the Cille and Ron Williams Yards and the Equestrian Center.

“The expansion and development of these new facilities will greatly enhance the visitor experience, provide the capacity to host a wider array of events throughout the year, and support increased attendance at other National Western Center facilities, both existing and future,” the website explains.

Redevelopment and expansion of the stock show venues have been a high priority of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and have the support of Gov. Jared Polis and a broad spectrum of politicians from both major parties. Local, state and business leaders continue building a public-private partnership to fund expansion and upgrades. Advocates believe new and expanded assets could revitalize the surrounding neighborhoods of Elyria-Swansea and Globeville while facilitating events that might attract up to 1 million more visitors annually to the event.

Denver and the rest of Colorado are the country’s gateway to the American West, where ranching, farming and rural culture have made significant and necessary contributions to the greater western society. The stock show provides an annual celebration of all that makes this region special, in a fun, affordable, entertaining, family-friendly environment that is welcoming to all.

The Gazette Editorial Board

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