Headed to the big show

Locals prepare for the National Western Stock Show in Denver

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Emily Hepworth said she isn't nervous about the National Western Stock Show. But that probably will change Wednesday, when she shows her two sheep.

"I tend to get nervous in the ring," the 15-year-old Moffat County High School sophomore said.

Hepworth will show her sheep, Arnold and Stallone, Wednesday and Thursday.

She also showed sheep last year, but said she didn't do very well.

"Last year was kind of a 'see what it's like kind of year,'" she said.

Hepworth said her sheep this year are younger than last year's sheep and that she hopes to finish in the top 30.

Of 400 competitors, the top 30 move on to sell their animals.

Hepworth is one of a few locals joining ranchers and farmers from across the West at the 100th National Western Stock Show. The show, which lures about 500,000 people to Denver every year, started Jan. 7 at the National Western Complex. The stock show ends Jan. 22

Craig resident Blake Kawcak also is gearing up for the show.

Kawcak, 17, will show two steers Saturday.

The steers won't be for sale until the Moffat County Fair next year, he said.

Kawcak said he doesn't expect to finish well enough to win money this year. But he said he's still excited about showing the steers.

Kawcak has been in 4-H since he was 8 years old and has competed in numerous shows.

The biggest difference bet-ween the National Western and other shows is that the National Western is more competitive, he said.

Ranchers from across the region bring their animals to the show, which means there are more high-quality animals, he said.

Kawcak plans to leave for Denver on Thursday morning. But some people from Craig already are at the show.

Karen Maneotis' daughters, Karissa, 13, and Andrea, 7, have been at the show since last week.

Karissa showed goats and wool last week and will show sheep this week in the same competition as Hepworth.

Karissa finished in 14th place out of 51 competitors in the goat showmanship competition last week. She also won reserve champion in the wool show.

Andrea will compete in the open breeding sheep show.

Karen Maneotis said the National Western is intimidating for the competitors.

"It's the big of the big," she said.

Maneotis and her husband, Nick, competed in livestock shows when they were children, as well.

Maneotis gets nervous for her daughters before they compete, she said.

The only advice she gives them when they compete is to stay focused and try their hardest, Maneotis said.

"Win or lose, just do your best," she said.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com.

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