National Western Stock Show Activities Pavilion entertains thousands
Despite all big ticket events and amazing animals found at the National Western Stock Show (NWSS), one of the more popular places on the grounds was the Activities Pavilion located between the Coliseum and NWSS complex buildings. Thousands of parents and children every single day arrived to watch free demonstrations and participate in a slice of rural or stock show life. Whether it was rodeo clowns, sheep shearing, pedal tractor races, stick horse rodeos or even Wild West Show previews, the white tent next to the outside food court buzzed with activity.
“It’s wonderful,” exclaimed six-year NWSS volunteer Michael Maus about the enthusiasm level for every activity throughout the day. “It is great (to work in here). My wife and I volunteered at the Information Booth last year, but it wasn’t as fun as this,” he said with laughter.
The pavilion crackled with excitement during daily shows put on by Duane Reichert called “Backstage With A Rodeo Clown.” Reichert taught over a thousand people every day regarding rodeo clowns and the tools of their trade. He also brought plenty of humor and activity into his demonstrations, choosing kids from the crowd to help out as well as delighting everyone with a myriad of animal helpers, including a goat, rabbit, ferret, rooster and a trio of adorable Yorkshire Terriers.
“That was sooooo cool,” yelled 10-year-old Eli after he was chosen from the crowd to help Reichert showcase the large padded barrels rodeo clowns use. The smile never left his face the rest of the performance.
“I have about as much fun as the kids do,” said Reichert with a laugh about his popular rodeo clown demonstrations. “I really feed off their enjoyment. It’s just as much fun for me as it is them.”
Asked if he planned on returning to the NWSS after being there seven years in a row, Reichert’s answer was immediate.
“As long as they invite me back, I will be here, that is for sure,” he said with enthusiasm. “When Marvin Witt hired me, we both thought it would be a one time shot to bring something unique into their activities. It’s just caught on and been really good for me and I’m sure really good for the stock show, too.”
Another popular event in the pavilion was the Wild West Show preview, which was held during the two days the big Wild West Show was at the NWSS. Good crowds filled the free tent to see entertainers show off their western skills.
“These (demonstrations) are fun because you never know what kind of questions these kids are going to ask,” said a smiling Max Reynolds after displaying some impressive skills with bullwhips for wide-eyed children and their parents.
“I enjoy it,” agreed Reynolds’ Wild West compatriot in the tent, Jerry Wayne Olson. Olson’s part of the ticketed show was a routine with horses, but he trick roped for the pleased Activities Pavilion crowds. “I kind of trick rope for fun,” added Olson with a grin. “This is fun for me.”
It wasn’t just fun and laughs on the schedule, although every slot was interesting. The stock show made sure the activities also included learning opportunities regarding rural life. Just like Reichert taught about what a rodeo clown really does, Bob Schroth of Strausburg, Colo., demonstrated sheep shearing for hundreds of engrossed people at a time.
“I enjoy this a lot,” said Schroth about his shearing demonstrations using a live sheep or lamb. With decades of experience, Schroth explained the process while he sheared, as well as answered plenty of questions from interested people afterward. “This is something you don’t see anyplace else (and) people don’t have an opportunity to see it. It’s truly kind of the highlight of my year, doing these. It’s a lot of fun.”
Volunteers inside the Activities Pavilion felt much the same way about the family-oriented schedule available for free to stock show visitors.
“I think it’s fantastic for kids to participate and for parents to watch them,” said longtime volunteer Bob Hanson after one of the many shows inside the tent. Hanson is an Assistant Captain of the horse barns, but had no trouble filling in for a colleague who was sick that day. “We do this primarily for the kids. This is basically one of the free things in the show that appeals to the kids (and) I think the parents enjoy seeing the kids having fun.”
The kids backed up his opinion during the pedal tractor races.
“I liked the tractors going around and pedaling them. It was very, very fun,” said 6-year-old Delaney with a grin.
“I like that you pedal them and it can go faster than real ones,” was 6-year-old Ethan’s reason for his wide cowboy smile.
Not to be outdone in the having fun department, 7-year-old Meghan wore her boots and cowboy hat to match her smile. “It was fun (and) I really liked the tunnel,” she said with enthusiasm.
We’re enjoying it and the kids are enjoying it,” summed up Hanson about the atmosphere of the NWSS Activities Pavilion.
If you find yourself looking for more family-oriented fun and excitement at next year’s NWSS, just search out the big white tent … and be prepared to stay awhile.