National Western Stock Show delivers a big return on western heritage

It’s easy to get lost in the numbers when considering the National Western Stock Show, a Denver fixture since 1906. For example, each year the 16-day event draws more than 700,000 visitors to its 30 rodeo sessions and 11 horse shows, among many other onsite events.  

But the Stock Show’s impact radiates far from its north Denver location. According to a report by the Common Sense Institute (CSI), the 2023 Stock Show “supported $171 million in economic activity in 2023 across the state of Colorado.” (Read more) Note the use of “across” the state, which still falls short of the event’s reach, since it gathers attendees, competitors and exhibitors from across the state, country and around the world.

The data doesn’t stop there. Organizers also note that the “Western Stock Show Association, which puts on the show … spent more than $3.6 million on education and scholarships and managed 97 other events throughout the course of a year that drew an additional 482,530 in attendees and an estimated $26.4 million in spending.”

Impressive indeed, and bigger things are happening. Construction has been ongoing for several years on what ultimately will be a $1 billion-plus expansion and makeover of the site. Those upgrades include the National Western Center, described as “more than 2.2 million square feet of new indoor and outdoor spaces … to host innovation and research labs, farmer’s markets, international conferences and outdoor festivals” in addition to the Stock Show every January.

Bricks and mortar are impressive, but I want to emphasize some other words from the previous descriptions. For example, that the National Western Center will have a focus on “innovation and research” to help sustain the ranch practices that provide the rich tapestry of the Stock Show, not to mention the food on our tables.

This expansion will enable the event to continue to be, in the words of the CSI report, “the premier western heritage and entertainment event.” And perhaps, more than any data, that is the Stock Show’s most important role: annually reuniting the enormous ecosystem of western livestock, rodeo, ranching and farming communities so that they can share their experiences, learn from each other, and return home with renewed energy about their critical role in the West. And it’s also a chance for those of us who aren’t a part of that community to learn more about it and understand the rich traditions of the West that still support how we live today.

The team at Mirr Ranch Group is involved with the Stock Show through its Coors Western Art Exhibit & Sale, an annual exhibition of contemporary Western art. In particular, we’re supportive of the Young Guns of the National Western, a group of young professionals who support the Stock Show’s scholarship trust through an annual fundraising event (Learn more).

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the event, starting with the Annual Kickoff Parade on Thursday (Jan 4), when parade-goers will be treated to the amazing site of more than 30 Longhorn cattle walking the streets of downtown Denver. The first official day of Stock Show events will be Saturday (Jan. 6), when you can check out everything from a Breeding Sheep Show to the Colorado Fiddle Championships, Colorado vs. the World Cinch Rodeo to the Catch A Calf Show. (Complete schedule)

So get out to the Stock Show – or seek out events closer to where you live – so you can appreciate and support this essential element of our western heritage.

LADIES FIRST: Did you read my recent interview with Erin Crider, the irrepressible woman helping grow the number of women enjoy fishing and hunting? Check it out. And when you’re done, learn more about Advice for Girls, a move the Colorado Sun describes as part of “a very short list of all-women ski films created in the past decade.”

SNOW “LACK”: Speaking of skiing, the snowpack across the West is off to a slow start. And while that is a vexation for skiers hungry to hit the powder, it’s a far bigger issue for the region as a whole, which has been suffering from low snowpack for many years. Find out the latest conditions on

LISTEN UP: Have you heard our great podcast series? Go here to find the complete list, which includes conversations with the likes of Kristin Kemp of the Colorado State Land Board about how public state lands are different from federally managed public lands, and with Gabby Zaldumbide, Managing Editor of Project Upland Magazine, to discuss what ranchers can do to make their properties more bird friendly.

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