2023 NWSS ends strong

Story and photos by Lincoln Rogers
The world famous Westernaires provided patriotic entertainment in every rodeo performance throughout the final weekend of the 2023 National Western Stock Show.

Stock show hosts 100,000-plus over final weekend

The 2023 National Western Stock Show attracted 702,697 visitors over its 16-day January run. It showed a rebound in enthusiasm for the historical event after health worries/mandates reduced 2022’s attendance to 586,756. The final weekend of Jan. 21-22, 2023, saw more than 100,000 people show up to see what was going on during the last two days, which included four high-profile semifinal and championship rounds of rodeo in the Denver Coliseum, along with the ever-popular Draft Horse, Mules & Donkeys show in the National Western Events Center.

“It is so great to have all these big horses here and mules and donkeys from all over the country,” said NWSS Horse Show Manager Kendra McConnell. “We’ve had some really great shows and it is so neat to put so many different breeds and disciplines and divisions in front of the public.”

Other NWSS officials were pleased, as well.

“The 100,000 people means it is that many more people we can expose to the National Western, the western lifestyle, agriculture and all the rest,” said NWSS Sr. Vice President John Ellis about the final weekend’s visitor turnout. “We are very happy with that. When people come to the stock show they know exactly what they are going to get. It is going to be a wonderful family experience; they will see animals and they will have great value for that general admission ticket. Or if they go to a rodeo or another ticketed event, that is great value, too. In the off-season we spend a lot of time on what we can do new or what we can take that is existing and tweak or make better, so a lot of thought goes into that.”

Always a popular part of the Draft Horse, Mule & Donkey Show over the final weekend of the NWSS, the Six Horse Hitch category sported contestants like the Highpoint Clydesdale team high-stepping throughout the Cinch Arena inside the National Western Events Center.
Spectators for the Saturday afrternoon semifinal rodeo at the 2023 NWSS were treated to a “liberty horse” (trained by performer Jessica Blair Fowlkes) jumping over flames on Jan. 21, 2023.
Using spotlights overhead, flames behind them, and fog all around, rodeo contestants from each event were introduced to the sold-out crowd before the start of championship action on the final Sunday of the 2023 NWSS (Jan. 22, 2023) Included in the introductions were Rocker Steiner, Stetson Wright, Jesse Wright, and Colorado’s own Kelly Yates.
A team of mules and another team of draft horses wait in the winter weather for their turn to head inside and compete. Both mules and draft horses show up over the final days of the 2023 NWSS as the popular draft horse and mule show brings in solid crowds to the National Western Events Center.
Almost 64,000 people showed up for the last Saturday of the NWSS on Jan. 21, 2023, and the animal nursery inside the National Western Events Center was a popular spot for families to check out.
Respect for America, traditional values, and the western way of life is a big part of what attracts people to the National Western Stock Show and the rodeo performances inside the Denver Coliseum. Before the start of every rodeo performance is a sincere prayer that is followed by the singing of the national anthem.
Greg Kearns of Franktown (along with his swapper Dillon Schulthies) drove his grey draft horse team of “Howie” and “Striker” to a first place time of 1:16.28 in the Feed Race on the final day of the 2023 NWSS. Stock show officials say it is the first time a contestant has won the event in consecutive years at the NWSS.
The food court in the vendor floor of the Hall of Education building was a popular location on Saturday as over 100,000 people visited the NWSS over its final weeknd of Jan. 21-22, 2023.
A big Saturday night rodeo crowd had the chance to see some of the rodeo bulls roam free inside the Denver Coliseum arena during a special introduction that talked about the western way of life and the importance of raising cattle in today’s world.
A team of draft horses pulling a wagon return to the stable barn through the snowy and cold weather after competing in the Cinch Arena inside the National Western Events Center during the final weekend of the 2023 NWSS. Watching the draft horses return from competing appeared to be a popular activity for visitors to the NWSS.
Volunteers and helpers hustled in between draft horse feed race runs to replace and restack the hay bales used as part of the timed competition.
Official pins sported the 2023 slogan of “There’s No Place Like Stock Show” at the official NWSS store location inside the vendor area at the National Western Stock Show. The 2023 event drew in 702,697 people throughout its 16-day January run. That was a more return-to-normal attendance over 2022’s omicron and mask mandate suppressed 586,756 total.
The world famous Westernaires provided patriotic entertainment in every rodeo performance throughout the final weekend of the 2023 National Western Stock Show.
Jessica Blair Fowlkes provided horse-related specialty act entertainment throughout all three of the semifinal rodeo performances on the last Saturday of the 2023 NWSS.
As a major winter tour rodeo, the National Western Stock Show draws world champions from up-and-coming young guns to 40-year-old seasoned pros like three-time PRCA world champ bareback rider Will Lowe, shown riding “Cinch On Fire” in the Saturday night semifinal round (Jan. 21, 2023)
Good doggo “Vic” from Aurora, Colo., tried to guide these four sheep to where they were supposed to go during the Intermediate Class of the Stock Dog Trials Sheep Division on Sunday afternoon (Jan. 22) at the 2023 NWSS.
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