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Weld County has a strong influence on National Western Stock Show

Bill Jackson Greeley, Colo.

Erin Dorsey has completed the circle.

“I showed my first steer down here when I was 3 years old. That was when they still had an open steer show,” Dorsey said last week.

That also was nearly 40 years ago.

Now, the Eaton native is completing her second year as the junior shows and special shows coordinator of the National Western Stock Show. During the show that means a lot of 12-14 hour days and computer work, getting all the Boer goats, market goats, lambs, pigs and beef animals officially entered for their respective shows, along with the llamas and alpacas.

She is one of a handful of Weld County residents who are either on the management or administrative side of operating what is still considered the most important and prestigious livestock show in the nation, if not the world.

Marv Witt of Erie is the staff vice president of operations, Bill Angell of La Salle is the livestock manager, Heather Willard of Hudson is the livestock secretary and Megan Grieve of Severance, who is finishing her education at Colorado State University, is working in the public relations department, sending out press releases daily. And a lot of those press releases are written by Susan Kanode, a native of a ranch northeast of Ault, who is finishing her 23rd year as the public relations person for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos at the National Western.

Then there are several Weld residents who serve on the executive committee and board of directors of the National Western, led by Ben Houston of Platteville who is chairman emeritus of the committee, Don Norgren of Platteville, who is the committee’s first vice president, and Mark Gustafson of Windsor, a member of the committee.

On the board, there are more than a dozen Weld members.

Dorsey showed lambs, pigs and steers while a member of the Eaton 4-H Club – or as she called it “Robert Dorsey’s 4-H Club” – as her father, Bob, was a leader of that club back in the day. She and her brothers, Mark and Dustin, were consistent winners at the Weld County Fair – all three of them were All Around Livestock Showmanship winners – and the boys had grand or reserve champion steers. She had the grand champion lamb at the county fair, and a champion pig at the Colorado State Fair. Her brothers were winners of the National Western Catch-A-Calf show, but Erin said, “I passed on that one.”

She graduated from Eaton High School in 1985, then went off to Northeastern Junior College in Sterling for a couple of years. After leaving NJC, she went to work for Show String Embroidery, a company she was to buy a couple of years later. She followed junior livestock shows around the country, where her company would supply the awards, banners, trophies, caps, jackets and “anything else you can put your name on” for winners of those shows.

It meant a lot of time on the road, and as Dorsey admitted, it cost her a marriage.

So, two years ago, she sold the company, returned home to Eaton and hooked on with the National Western, although she said she still enjoys embroidery.

And when she’s not at the National Western, she’s out promoting what she said remains the most important show title a 4-H or FFA member can win.

“There are some bigger shows around, but this is still the one that is the most prestigious one; this is the one you want to win,” Dorsey said.

It’s her goal, she said, to bring more of those kids to Denver.

“To me, this show is about the kids. It’s exciting for them to come to Denver. They are the future of the industries represented down here,” she said. So she goes to county and state fairs, and helps with such organizations as the National Swine Registry to promote the National Western.

She’s accomplished part of her goal.

In the past few years, the junior market beef show has declined, but this year Dorsey and the show checked in 101 steers for this year’s show, up from 65 the year before.

“We’re getting there. I want to bring the junior shows back to where they used to be and make them more family oriented. That is what it is all about,” she said.

Bill Jackson has covered agriculture in northern Colorado for more than 30 years. His column runs every other Sunday. If you have ideas for this column, call him at (970) 392-4442.


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