DENVER, Dec. 30, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Come January, working cowboys all over the West dust off their fancy Stetsons, polish up their boots and head to the Mile High City for the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, held January 8-23, 2011.
More than 643,000 people entered the 100-acre show grounds in Denver last year to get a glimpse of how "real" cowboys live, work and play.
The National Western started in 1906 and is one of the largest stock shows and rodeos in the world. It is staged in January to benefit ranchers, not tourists. January is the slowest month for working cattle ranchers and therefore the best time for them to get away from their spread.
Some 15,000 head of cattle, horses, sheep, swine, bison, goats and llamas will be on display at this authentic show, while more than 350 vendors spread out over a maze of buildings, selling everything from barbed wire to belt buckles, from fine Western art to exquisite Native American jewelry.
Forty-two ticketed events show off the thrilling sport of professional rodeo with steer wrestling, team roping and bull riding. But there are also elegant tributes to the horse with Grand Prix show jumping, four draft horse shows and two performances of dressage called An Evening of Dancing Horses.
Since the "real" West was settled by a multi-cultural group of wranglers that included people of every color and ethnic background, that tradition continues at the National Western. There are two Mexican Rodeo Extravaganzas that feature bareback riders, trick roping, mariachis and the daring Paso de la Muerte or "Death Jump." The Martin Luther King, Jr. African-American Heritage Rodeo features Black cowboys in traditional rodeo events. You can learn more about African American cowboys (who comprised as many as one third of the cowboys on the great cattle drives) at Denver's Black American West Museum.
For ticketing information, please visit NationalWestern.com or call 1-888-551-5004.
Parade of Longhorns in Downtown Denver Kicks off the Show
Kicking off the Stock Show on January 6, 2011 at noon is a parade through the streets of downtown Denver. Wranglers will herd two dozen Longhorn cattle down 17th Street, surrounded by skyscrapers, banks and hotels. The parade includes Old West stagecoaches and covered wagons, trick ropers, horse drill teams, mountain men, Buffalo soldier re-enactors, Country & Western bands, cowgirls, marching bands and floats. It's followed by a rip-roaring Western barbecue and fashion show.
A Short Primer on Rodeo Events
Called "the most exciting eight seconds in sports," this event consists of a rider trying to remain seated for eight seconds on an animal that may weigh more than a ton and be just as quick as he is big.
Here the contestant starts on horseback and gives the steer a head start. When the horse pulls up with the steer, the cowboy jumps from the horse, grabs the horns of the steer and pushes one horn down while lifting the other up in an attempt to tip the steer over. It requires brute strength and an understanding of the principles of leverage. This is a "big man's sport" with the average steer wrestler tipping the scales at 215 pounds.
Saddle Bronc Riding
Rodeo's "classic" event has its roots in the history of the Old West. Ranch hands would often gather and compete among themselves to see who could display the best style while riding unbroken horses. Each rider must begin his ride with his feet over the bronc's shoulders to give the horse the advantage. A rider who synchronizes his spurring action with the animal's bucking efforts will receive a high score.
About VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau
Celebrating more than 100 years of promoting the Mile High City, VISIT DENVER is a nonprofit trade association that contracts with the City of Denver to market Denver as a convention and leisure destination, increasing economic development in the city, creating jobs and generating taxes. Tourism is the second-largest industry in Denver, generating $2.8 billion in annual spending in 2009, while supporting nearly 50,000 jobs. For more information on Denver, call 800-2-DENVER or visit Denver's official website at VISITDENVER.com.
SOURCE VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau