This month local youth and adults are exhibiting animals, competing in the rodeo, or otherwise participating in events at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. My granddaughter Megan is competing in livestock competitions, too, and when she talks about the Stock Show it brings back memories of the years (and years and years) ago when I was a 4-H member.
As a teenager, I exhibited steers at the National Western.
During my years in 4-H I fed and exhibited over 30 steers, mostly at the Moffat County Fair but also at the Golden Spike Show in Ogden, Utah, and the National Western in Denver.
I don’t remember how I got started exhibiting at the National Western Stock Show nor do I remember the exact dates, but one year, in particular, stands out. It was the first year I showed a steer at the Stock Show.
His name was Shorty. He was a dark red Hereford steer that I purchased from Harry Durham Sr. who had a ranch on the Williams Fork, near Hamilton.
He was the Grand Champion steer at the Moffat County Fair, but instead of selling him, I held him back for Stock Show.
In those days we fed our steers buckets full of grain, and it wasn’t unusual for the steers to grade prime so “holding” Shorty until Stock Show (so he wouldn’t be “overdone”) was tricky. It involved lots of walking for me and Shorty, up and down the road that ran beside the house.
When the Stock Show rolled around, we loaded Shorty in the pickup truck that was fitted with stock racks (no stock trailer in those days) and headed off for Denver. The roads were probably pretty tricky, being January, but that didn’t stop us.
In those days, the steers to place first to eighth place in their respective classes got to stay in the steer barn for the entire Stock Show, to be viewed by visitors. They also got to sell in the National Western Junior Livestock Show.
Shorty placed seventh. I remember calling Mr. Durham to tell him how Shorty placed.
One of the honors of having a steer get to remain for the entire Stock Show was parading him, with all of the other steers, in the arena during one of the rodeo performances. It was an honor, and all of those beautiful steers walking in line must have been quite a sight, but the whole affair was a little frightening for the exhibitors.
To get from the steer barn to the coliseum arena, we 4-H members had to walk the steers through an underpass. The dirt in the underpass had been worked so that it was soft and deep.
We had to stand in line until it was time to walk into the arena. Imagine how the steers felt.
They had been tied up and they’d had to behave themselves during the show.
Now they were all together. They could move around. That soft dirt felt so good! They all stared to jump and play!
Luckily, our dads were there, too. I remember Dad grabbing Shorty’s halter strap. He told me to get clear over to the side of the underpass.
He held onto Shorty. The other Dads did the same with their kids’ steers.
The dirt was soft in the arena, too, but I honestly don’t remember if any of the steers acted up once we were called into the coliseum. At least I don’t have any horrible memories of Shorty running away with me.
I guess I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to be able to sell Shorty during the Junior Livestock Sale. I don’t remember what he sold for, but I do remember that the owner of the Cosgriff Hotel in Craig came out and bought him.
The owner invited me to the hotel restaurant for a steak dinner, but I never took him up on it.
There were other Stock Shows. My sister Charlotte exhibited sheep at some of them. However, the year I showed Shorty is my favorite.
Please call me at 824-8809 with your 2013 National Western competition results and memories.