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A guide to the 2020 National Western Stock Show

The 2020 National Western Stock Show lasts from Jan. 11 to Jan. 26 at the National Western Stock Show Complex in Denver.

DENVER — You haven’t experienced Denver until you’ve experienced the National Western Stock Show.

A tradition since 1906, this part-rodeo, part-livestock show, and part-fair brings hundreds of thousands of people to the National Western Complex each year for a celebration of our state’s agricultural heritage.

Honestly, even if the rodeo isn’t your jam, grounds admission is worth it just for the spectacle of people watching and the fact companies try to sell mattresses at the stock show.

It’s also a lot to take in. Here’s our guide to the National Western Stock Show.

When is it? 

The stock show is held for 16 days every January. This year, it’s from Jan. 11-26.

The festivities kick off with a parade on Jan. 9. It’s probably one of the most Colorado things that happens all year.

Jake Jabs (yes, the guy with the tigers in the American Furniture Warehouse commercials) will lead a drive of Longhorn cattle, horses and western wagons through downtown Denver.

Credit: National Western Stock Show

That starts at noon outside of Union Station and heads 15 blocks down 17th Street to Tremont.

As for the stock show itself, the grounds open at 9 a.m. every day. They’re open until 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Check out a full schedule here: bit.ly/2s35br7

Credit: Alex Kirk, KUSA

How do you get tickets? 

The cost of grounds admission depends on the day. This gets you into the National Western Complex and allows you to see some, but not all, of the events.

It ranges from $3-$4 for kids, and $12-$24 for people more than 12. As you’d guess, it’s more expensive on weekends and cheaper on weekdays.

Also worth mentioning? It’s free on Jan. 14!

Some of the events that come with ground admission (that’s in addition to the trade show/Coors Western art exhibit) include the Catch-A-Calf contest, Colorado Fiddle Contest, Mutton Bustin’ (a fan favorite) and the stock dog trials.

There’s a full list of those events here: bit.ly/37M8zWi

Events like the rodeo cost a little bit more – especially depending on where you sit. Families can snag a four-pack that includes hot dogs for $79. Find that ticket information here: bit.ly/2tBLyGX

RELATED: 5 ways to save on National Western Stock Show tickets

Where do you park? 

There’s construction at the stock show this year, which means that veterans could be a little bit tripped up by the parking situation.

The good news is that there’s still free parking, and if you’re cool with a shuttle ride, there are lots of options at Coors Field.

Parking lots north of the Coliseum are free, but tend to fill up fast.

 > Download a National Western Stock Show parking map here.

You can check out a longer article about the parking situation at the stock show below.

RELATED: Here's where you'll want to park for the 2020 National Western Stock Show

But like … what is it? 

The official description on its website calls the stock show a “nationally-recognized western heritage and entertainment event” that hosts one of the world’s “richest regular season professional rodeos, one of the country’s largest horse shows and Colorado’s largest western trade show.”

What this entails is … a lot.

The stock show experience can involve everything from drinking a beer in a bar conveniently located in a cow bar to watching a cookware demonstration. There is also a pretty epic free petting zoo that has llamas in it. Contrary to what you’d think, it’s not just for kids.

RELATED: 9Things to do at the 114th annual National Western Stock Show and Rodeo

Of course, you can also learn a lot about where the food we eat comes from … and have an opportunity to wear the cowboy boots you only whip out once a year, for the stock show.

Like we said, it’s a uniquely Denver experience that’s hard to describe, but worth having.

Credit: Courtesy History Colorado
A winning heifer at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo.

It sounds like it has quite the history! 

It does! Per the Stock Show’s website, it all started thanks to “rugged cattlemen” (their words, not mine) and “livestock commission merchants” who tried to get a stock show off the ground in the 1800s.

The Stock Show didn’t officially begin until 1906. That one ran for six days with 15,000 stockmen visiting from places as far away as Omaha, Kansas City, Chicago and some eastern cities.

RELATED: A city person’s guide to the cattle you'll see at the stock show

RELATED: Literally just crazy stuff that has happened at the Stock Show

Credit: Courtesy National Western Stock Show
A group of cattlemen at the National Western Stock Show.

Admission was free, and street cars and horsedrawn carriages brought people to that first event.

As the years have gone on, the stock show has grown quite a bit. The Denver Union Stockyard Company built a 6,000-seat amphitheater (it cost a cool $200,000) back in 1909, and more buildings were added over the years.

While the Stock Show has gone on almost every year, it was canceled due to a “hoof and mouth” disease epidemic in 1915. This prevented livestock from crossing state lines.

You can read more about the history here: bit.ly/2jDNuZ3

I have more questions. Answer them please, 9NEWS. You're my only hope. 

There’s a lot more to the National Western Stock Show than what we discussed here. With that being said, there’s lots of helpful information to peruse on the website: nationalwestern.com

9NEWS is a corporate partner of the National Western Stock Show.

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