It only happens in Denver
Books could be, have been, and will be written about the history of Denver as a cowtown and the importance of the National Western Stock Show. Photos of the throngs waiting to enter the gates 115 years ago just emanate excitement. The crowds waiting to enter today are still buzzing with excitement to be a part of the NWSS and to be a cowboy even if only for a day.
The cowboys unloading cattle into the yards or on The Hill and the top hands warming up horses in the January cold come to Denver because there are so many things that only happen here. Hanging a banner or earning a buckle here means you really accomplished something. Leading a steer into the Brown Palace behind the velvet rope is unforgettable and it only happens here. Christmas lights burn across the city through the end of the 16-day event, the story of Big Mac makes old men chuckle, the millions of dollars of business done in the yards set the tone for the year to come on ranches across the U.S. and Canada, the excitement of showing in Stadium Arena is like nowhere else, and hearing John Korrey say, “sold” while you’re in the Junior Market Livestock Sale might just make your heart sing.
This is no fly by night operation, this is over 100 years of history. If that history is to be honored, then we become the keepers of the flame. Just as we care for the land and stock entrusted to us, we must be guardians of the stories and the traditions. We must be the kind of people who will show up for the history and show up for the future of the event because there is nowhere else like it. So many of the people who pass through the gates will have no other opportunity to learn about and appreciate agriculture. With every bad piece of legislation or ballot proposal where the rural and urban divide is a monstrous cavern, we tend to say that the voters just don’t understand agriculture. Well, here is your chance to help educate and connect them to something good.
If we do, the next time they see a headline that takes aim at agriculture — because believe me there will be one — they’ll remember what they know of agriculture from visiting the NWSS and maybe they’ll vote to help us defend this industry. If showing up to the NWSS isn’t important to us, and honoring the history of the Denver Union Stock Yards and all the people who rode in train cars with their cattle for the opportunity to be here isn’t important to us, then how can we expect it to be important to the people who are one or two or three generations removed from the industry?
We’re being faced down with a growing divide every day here in Colorado and around the country. We need to be the kind of people who will show up. We need to be the kind of people who will smile at the city person who asks a basic question about the cattle we’re showing so they are left with a positive experience. We need to be the kind of people who, when faced with a choice, will show up. We need to be the kind of people who acknowledge and appreciate the people who have worked tirelessly to pull this event off and make it great. We need to be the kind kind of people, who don’t get swept up in social media drama but make our own decision to stand up for our industry. We need to be the kind of people we know this industry to be — dependable, reasonable, kind, and worth defending.
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