There has been a lot of hubbub about Denver’s National Western Stock Show (NWSS) and the Cattlemen’s Congress show in Oklahoma City, which jumped on top of the NWSS dates. The Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce and several other opportunistic groups, including cattlemen, are essentially trying to supplant NWSS, a major national stock show. They wish to cite the Colorado governor as not supporting animal agriculture.
The governor certainly wasn’t helpful to agriculture by making a proclamation that March 20 would be Meat Out Day, an effort that failed miserably. But the truth is that Denver County Public Health closed the show down!
Several major breed associations who held their national shows at Denver for decades have now made the decision to return to Cattlemen’s Congress to hold their national shows. They claim that Colorado government doesn’t support agriculture. No matter how you look at this, Gov. Jared Polis and his vegan animal activist partner are short term at best. Yes, Colorado politics have changed over the years. But I can assure you that very few people are anti-animal agriculture or against the Western heritage that NWSS represents. We’ll find out soon with the proposed PAUSE Act, which would criminalize animal husbandry practices.
The city of Denver knows the value of the NWSS and has committed to investing $1.3 billion in a brand new, state-of-the-art stock show venue. The Denver community doesn’t want to go the way of the Chicago stock show, which moved to Louisville, KY, and became the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE).
COVID-19 has been very destructive to every major metropolitan area. Economies were ruined, the hospitality industry was ruined, and it has affected every citizen’s life in some way. The 115th NWSS was ruined in the middle of a major makeover and public safety officials determined the risk was too high to hold the show. The Fort Worth stock show was also canceled. Nobody tried to steal their dates yet they went after NWSS show dates. Why? Because this group of supporters are opportunistic and, in my mind, selfish. Who would let a good crisis go to waste other than a politician?
I understand that the Cattlemen’s Congress was much easier to navigate and less expensive to exhibit cattle at. A beer cost $10 in Denver and $5 there. Hay and bedding were cheaper, parking easier; there were a lot of positive attributes to show cattle there. I was not there but have been told everything was less expensive and less hassle. However, was anyone there to see your cattle other than other show people? Did the commercial guys come see your bulls?
Yes, I’m bothered by this raid on the NWSS. It’s a blatant move against NWSS and 115 years of tradition, history and heritage. So much more goes on at the NWSS other than barn parties for show winners; it’s really a festival. Over 700,000 folks pass through the gates at NWSS each year; most are non-ag people. This is twice the population of Oklahoma City! They come to NWSS to see the livestock and learn about animal agriculture.
In the big picture, this show represents the entire meat industry, especially beef producers. All major livestock species are shown, with horses and rodeo, and lots of folks put a day or two into skiing our world class ski areas. NWSS also represents Western heritage and is now associated with the Denver Natural History Museum, Denver Water, and Colorado State University’s Equine Vet Clinic. And don’t forget about the junior livestock portion of the show. NWSS represents Western agriculture in a big way.
Denver’s new National Western Complex will be completed, and it will be the best venue in the world to exhibit livestock, and an even greater destination for tourism. The state has absolutely nothing to do with the NWSS so don’t pay attention to the politics that some want to amplify, it’s utter nonsense.
Agriculture and the livestock industry must be united going forward. There are still too many animal rights and climate change nuts out there, who would like nothing more than to see the industry separate into splinter groups and argue over where to hold a national and international livestock show. Livestock people need to unite on one venue and make NWSS the epicenter of livestock production. Go big on one venue—I don’t think anyone wants two mediocre shows competing.
Denver has always been the greatest genetic trade show in the world. And it will be even better when the shiny new show ground is completed. There is nothing second hand; it is designed to show livestock.
So, you all who want to go to Oklahoma City’s Cattlemen’s Congress, go ahead. You’ll save a few bucks but remember: You do get what you pay for. And I think what you want is more eyeballs not cheap beer. Look at the big picture and the future of your industry. P.S. Pray for spring rain. — PETE CROW