From Pipi’s Pasture: Stock Show memories
January 30, 2015
In past years, "From Pipi's Pasture" has recognized Moffat County's junior exhibitors who competed in the National Western Stock Show in Denver. The results have always been gathered from the Internet. This year, however, this information is divided up in such a way that it's difficult to access all of the information for Moffat County. Rather than leave someone out — I hope that this hasn't happened before — this column congratulates all Moffat County junior and open show exhibitors for 2015 and devotes this week's column to personal memories of Stock Shows past.
It's been nearly 50 years (gasp!) since I exhibited steers at the National Western. Since then I have kept in touch with it through our grandchildren, Kenny and Megan Prather. I know that there have been lots of changes since I was a junior exhibitor and know that more changes are being planned to expand the facility.
When we went out to the show, we prayed that the weather would be decent — at least until we got over the passes. I remember seeing the coliseum for the first time. People entered the big doors in the front of the building to get to the stadium where the rodeos were held. Vendors had booths up all around the stadium entrance (and probably other places, too) where films ran all the time to give spectators information about agriculture equipment and maybe even livestock medications. Vendors also sold western wear, souvenirs, jewelry, and lots more. The Cattlemen and Cattlewomen (then called Cowbelles) had put up booths with information about the beef industry.
The livestock were kept in assigned stalls in barns. It seemed like these buildings were a combination of warm and cold, with doors being left open and animals led back and forth. Blowers ran all the time as exhibitors dried animals and blew straw and other bedding material off them. During judging, animals were led into arenas. Spectators watched from seats situated above the arenas. On weekends there were often large crowds so it was difficult to walk around, and little kids must have felt that they were being dragged around in a forest of people.
Being raised in a small community, showing steers at the Stock Show was both exciting and scary. There were lots of exhibitors, for one thing, from all parts of the country. In those days only seven steers were placed in each class, and if an exhibitor was lucky enough to place, the steer got to stay for the entire show. The other steers were "sifted". I was lucky enough to have one steer, Shorty, that placed at Stock Show. I think that I sold him during the Junior Livestock Sale (since more animals were allowed to sell during those days), but I may not remember correctly.
During down time after showing, we had time to look around. Dad and I walked on the viaduct that took us right over the stockyards that were part of the facility. Below us we could see pen after pen of cattle, some or perhaps all of which were open class entries at the show. During the rest of the year the stockyards held cattle that ranchers, including those in Craig, sent out to Denver to be sold. I remember how scared I was to walk on the viaduct; I'm afraid of heights.
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We had lunch at the Exchange Building, too, where Dad did business when he sold calves.
If you have stories about the Stock Show, past or present, call me at 970-824-8809. I'd love to hear from you.