The National Western Stock Show came to end this weekend with smaller crowds than in years past due to the ongoing pandemic.
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Despite the smaller turnout, those who did attend said they had a great time enjoying the festivities and getting to see all the animals.
This year, the highly infectious omicron variant of COVID-19 swept through the state, causing more than a hundred thousand people to stay away from the National Western Stock Show.
About 586,000 people visited the 116th National Western Stock Show, which ended Sunday. That’s down from pre-pandemic attendance by about 18%, spokeswoman Karen Woods said in a news release.
Last year’s show was canceled due to the outbreak of the pandemic. The stock show in 2020 drew around 708,000 attendees, and the event had just over 700,000 people attending the two years prior.
The annual Denver Livestock Show and Rodeo is one of the biggest events in north Denver. The event includes livestock auctions, horse shows and rodeos, as well as hundreds of booths at an indoor trade show. The show saw its highest-ever attendance during its 100th anniversary in 2006, when about 726,000 people visited.
Organizers say they are already planning for next year’s show and are hopeful that things will be back to normal by then.
National Western president Paul Andrews said today, “We are grateful to have hosted this epic event. We are blown away by the support and outreach from the nearly 600,000 guests who came back to celebrate the western lifestyle that is so important to so many.”
Although Colorado has been seeing a recent surge in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant, this year’s stock show still took place. The show did require all attendees to wear masks indoors, though some people said this policy was not enforced strictly enough. It should be noted that organizers of the event did not make it a requirement for either competitors or attendees to be vaccinated against the virus.
The Junior Livestock Auction on Friday was one of the final events of the stock show. The Grand Champion steer sold for a record high of $160,000, and the top eight animals sold for a combined $519,000, Woods said in a release.
The majority of the money goes straight to the young people who raised the animals, 10% of which is put into the National Western Scholarship Trust in order to fund scholarships at colleges located in Colorado and Wyoming.