A Western tradition continues

National Western Stock Show begins Jan. 6 in Denver, runs through Jan. 21

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One hundred years ago, four breeds of cattle were shown at a Denver event titled the National Western Stock Show.

The tradition continues to this day.

This year's event features 20 breeds of cattle, horses, sheep, swine, goats, llamas, bison, yaks, stock dogs, poultry and rabbits. It runs Jan. 6-21 at Denver's National Western Complex.

Blake Kawcak has tried for three years to get into the swine competition at the National Western. This year he finally was accepted.

"It's totally a lottery thing," Kawcak said. "They only take 700 entries from around the country. People are there from California, Georgia and Wisconsin."

Kawcak may be new to the pig competition, but he is no stranger to the National Western. He and his steers have made the trek to Denver for eight years.

One of the most popular cattle shows at the National Western is the prospect steer and heifer show.

Calves ranging from 9 to 11 months old compete for the grand champion title.

In the 2006 Moffat County Fair, Kawcak took a third overall and grand champion in showmanship with his steer. He also placed fifth overall in market swine and first overall grand champion in showmanship with his pig.

The natural next stop for Kawcak was the state fair in Pueblo, where his steer took fourth place in the market class, and he came home with a first and second in pigs.

"Only the winners go on to the sale," he said. "Out of 400 head of hogs, 45 make it to the sale. My first-place pig sold at the Junior Livestock Sale."

Kawcak is looking forward to the National Western, where his brother, Blain, once made it to the Junior Livestock Sale.

Because pigs show on Sunday and steers don't show until the following Saturday, Kawcak plans on spending at least six days in Denver.

Seventeen-year-old Brad Summers and his 14-year-old sister Ashley are planning to spend three or four days at the show.

Ashley and Brad also show prospect steers and heifers at the national show.

With more than eight years' experience, Brad said he likes the competition.

"It's different from the county fair. There's a lot more competition at the National Western Stock Show," he said.

The Summers acquired their animals in September for the stock show.

Ashley made it to the championship drive at the Moffat County Fair in 2006. Brad wasn't satisfied with his last place finish.

Karissa Maneotis entered a Phoenix show that starts a week prior to the Denver show. The 14-year-old plans to return to Craig for a few days of school between the Phoenix and Denver shows before she's off to the National Western.

"I've got a Boer-cross goat and two black-faced lambs that are looking pretty good," she said. "The National Western is hard though. People are everywhere. They come from Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. The competition is way more difficult."

Maneotis has had her animals since October, and she is no stranger to winning.

At the county fair, she had a goat finish grand champion in showmanship, as well as a reserve-champion goat.

Maneotis also had a lamb finish among the top 10 in the show, and also took a third place in market class lamb.

Emily Hepworth is attending the National Western with her two market lambs. This is her third year at the national show.

Ten-year-old Jerica DeLong will be making her second appearance at the national show with her market lambs, Hank and Drover.

Cody and Lacie Coupe of Craig are also scheduled to make the trip.

Lacie was selected in the lottery drawing for swine and will be showing pigs this year.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com.

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