DENVER – It’s known as the best 16 days in January.
The 117th National Western Stock Show (NWSS), which kicked off Saturday, celebrates Colorado’s western roots and traditions.
The show, which attracts hundreds of thousands of people every year, provides a $120 million economic boost to the Denver metro, the organizer said.
NWSS, which is held at the National Western Complex, features about 30 professional rodeo performances, several horse shows and the “Super Bowl” of livestock shows.
For 14-year-old T.J. Surry, it’s an opportunity to show the llamas he and his family, including his two younger siblings, care for on their farm in Larkspur.
“We have about seven llamas at home,” said Surry.
The Surry family’s llamas will compete with others this weekend, showcasing their skills.
“One is obstacle so we kind of go through obstacles,” said Surry. “There's some teeter totters, hula hoops.”
Surry said that is followed by another competition.
“There's another one called showmanship and that's pretty much showing off your llama and yourself to the judge,” said Surry.
It might sound like a lot of work, but Surry says it’s also a lot of fun.
“I will say it is pretty awesome to be here. I mean, a lot of people come and watch,” said Surry.
In fact, organizers say the stock show attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the show averaged an attendance of over 700,000.
The show was canceled in 2021 due to concerns over COVID-19.
The show returned in 2022 with an attendance of 586,756.
Organizers said the stock show welcomes people from 48 states and 32 countries.
“We’re from North Dakota so it kind of reminds us of home a little bit,” said Pete Bee, who attended the show on Saturday. “I just love the smells and sounds and everything about agriculture.”
Money raised at the show funds scholarships for students studying agriculture, rural medicine, and veterinary sciences, helping to ensure the western way of life continues for generations to come.
For tickets, schedules and parking information, visit https://nationalwestern.com/.