Invitation to Longhorn breeders: Join us at Denver’s National Western
for the Fence Post
All Texas Longhorn breeders are invited to enter Denver’s 114th National Western Stock Show coming up Jan. 11-26, 2020. The NWSS is known for being The Best 16 Days in January and Longhorn cattle are a part of it from beginning to end.
The Longhorn show itself is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Jan. 24-25, in The Yards. Cattle move in on Wednesday of that week and depart on Sunday or no later than noon Monday.
Exhibitors vie for cash awards, trophy belt buckles and ribbons and enjoy a banquet together.
Longhorn entries traditionally close on Nov. 20, and the National Western has made it convenient to enter via the internet at nationalwestern.com/livestock-shows/. Once there, click on the Livestock Exhibitors button to enter. The NWSS Longhorn show is unique because it is approved by both the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America and the International Texas Longhorn Association. These two organizations are headquartered in Texas and have affiliate associations and members throughout North America and in other countries, as well.
“We’re always happy to help folks get started raising and showing Texas Longhorns,” said Kenny Richardson, co-chairman of the show’s organizing committee. “The breeders you see at National Western are typical of Longhorn breeders around the country. We appreciate our cattle and enjoy being around one another.”
Kenny and his wife, Karen, have their Fossil Creek Longhorns operation outside of Greeley, Colo.
Next January will be the 44th Texas Longhorn show at National Western. It all began in 1975 with a national championship steer show. This came at a time when the breed was enjoying renewed interest after coming close to extinction. The cattle responsible for cowboys and cattle drives — and so much Western lore — had been reduced to small herds found in obscure areas mostly in Texas.
And then the cattle were rediscovered to a great extent by one man — Darol Dickinson, who was living at Ellicott, Colo., and working as a professional photographer specializing in horse and cattle portraits. A lot of his commissioned work was in Texas in the 1960s, and Dickinson made a point of searching out those pockets of Longhorn cattle while he traveled the state taking portraits. He bought Longhorn cattle, trucked them to Ellicott, and had buyers lined up to receive them.
Maybe it was a yearning for simpler times or a chance to touch a piece of the Old West. But people looked at the cattle and liked them; they liked their colorful hides and horns, and used their Longhorns as “pasture ornaments.” Some trained their Longhorns to ride or to pull wagons. Along the way it was rediscovered that Longhorn bulls produced smaller calves, ideal for first-calf heifers of any breed. And Longhorn beef is lean, tasty and nutritious.
Dickinson subsequently relocated his Longhorn operation to Barnesville, Ohio, an area with plenty of rain and grass. Today, he and his family market their cattle around the world.
There are plenty of Longhorn cattle breeders today, thanks in large part to Dickinson, and they continue to attract attention. The Longhorn drive up Denver’s 17th Street has led the National Western parade each year since 2006, which marked the 100th birthday of the stock show. Folks line both sides of the street to watch the cattle go by, and the crowd was estimated at 80,000 this year.
Next year’s parade will be held on Jan. 9, 2020.
When Denver needed to champion passage of measure 2C to finance expansion of the National Western Center Complex in 2015, a Longhorn steer named Shoot ‘em Up did his part, appearing in Denver area TV commercials with Mayor Michael Hancock, touting the show’s benefits to the Denver economy. Shoot ‘em Up’s name was changed to Larimer for the commercials. He and Mayor Hancock were a popular attraction and the bond issue passed.
“Larimer” was trained and shown by Gary Lake of Ellicott, Colo., and in 2017 Lake brought the steer to the third floor of Denver’s Hyatt Regency Hotel, to participate in the induction of Ron Williams into the Denver Business Hall of Fame. Williams was NWSS chairman of the board and remains on the board today. The new Yards will be named the “Ron and Cille Williams Yards” after his generous donation towards the Stock Show’s Capital Campaign.
Larimer weighed close to a ton at that time, and his horns measured 85 inches from tip to tip. He barely fit in the hotel’s freight elevator. Larimer has appeared at the National Western Longhorn Show, and may be there again next January. Lake has a variety of jobs at the show — everything from singing the National Anthem to moving cattle in and out of the arena.
Perhaps the most indispensable person at the NWSS Longhorn show is Lana Pearson of Fowler, Colo., who helps with the entries, assigns cattle pens, serves as ring steward and works from beginning to end to insure exhibitors have an enjoyable show. She and her Dad, Ron Pearson, are known for their Windy Point Longhorns.
Texas Longhorns are on display each day of the stock show, including a stint in the National Western’s Wild West Show, appearances during several evening performances of the rodeo, and of course during the breed show that final week. And don’t forget to see them in the NWSS parade. ❖