Garrett Burkett, 13 years old, captured the title of Champion Junior Showman yesterday morning in the Junior Breeding Sheep Show at the National Western Stock Show. Burkett is from Evansville, Wyoming and has been showing sheep for six years. This was Burkett’s third time competing here at the NWSS.
“The National Western is a great show,” Burkett said. “It’s a laid back, really fun show.”
Burkett has enjoyed the NWSS each time he’s been here, but this year was a little sweeter. The past two years he's shown here he’s been named Reserve Champion Junior Showman. The third time must have been the charm as he accomplished his goal of taking home the grand champion banner.
“It’s an exciting feeling knowing all of my hard work paid off,” Burkett said.
His success for the day wasn’t finished there though. Burkett’s ewe lamb also garnered the title of Supreme Champion Ewe.
Back in Wyoming, Burkett’s family owns Triple G Livestock. His favorite part of showing sheep is getting to see them as babies and watching them mature to the final product. Based on his success at the NWSS, it’s evident both Garrett and his sheep have a bright future ahead of them.
On the 15th day of the National Western Stock Show, the yards were emptying out, the trade show was winding down and most of the cattle had been shown. However, the prospect steers were awaiting their time to set foot on “the Hill.”
Cash Pratt, a fourth grader from Pueblo, Colorado, has an entire show career ahead of him. As he and his steer, appropriately named "Panda," entered Stadium Arena today, he was thrilled to show in such a historic place.
“My favorite part about the National Western is the excitement,” Pratt said.
Pratt went on to win his class and the heaviest weight division. To wrap up the last of the cattle on “the Hill” for 2020, judge Shane Meier named “Panda” the Grand Champion Prospect Steer.
As tears of joy filled his parents eyes after a big win, it was safe to say both Pratt and “Panda” have a bright future in the show cattle industry.
The National Western Stock Show is known for its high-caliber livestock and western heritage. As you walk through the yards during the last few days of the of the stock show, you’ll notice the abandoned stalls where the cattle once were, until you arrive at alley 1400.
Here you will find the beasts who once roamed the plains, and their owners who are proud to continue the tradition of raising bison. The National Bison Association is celebrating its 25th anniversary of exhibiting stock at the NWSS in the stockyards, however, this is the 40th year for the NBA Gold Trophy Sale.
Communications director for the NBA, Karen Conley, has been involved with the bison industry for more than 25 years.
“The Gold Trophy is the pinnacle of what a bison producer wants to be,” Conley said. “The more bison you bring, the better your chances will be.”
Conley is not the only individual who fell in love with the industry.
The Thieman family has raised three generations of bison fanatics who have brought bison to NWSS for several years. Colorado natives Roy and Deb Thieman, owners of Prayridge Buffalo Ranch, have raised their family in the industry for more than 20 years. Their daughter, Carrie Bennett, has continued the tradition with her two sons.
“I feel sure one of my sons will come back to the ranch to continue the tradition,” Bennett said.
The hidden gem of the NWSS Stockyards in alley 1400 holds a place in several family’s hearts. The NBA members feel honored to continue the western heritage of raising and showing bison.
For more information about the association, visit www.bisoncentral.com.
The Wicks family of Hubbard, Iowa, is no stranger to the Miniature Hereford ring. The family has been raising Miniature Herefords for several years, but they don’t let their commitment to the breed stay in the barn.
Since 2015, Terry, Tammy and Kelli have been attending the National Western Stock Show and helping with the Miniature Hereford show. The family’s involvement began with Tammy; she serves as the Miniature Hereford Queen Coordinator and is in charge of all things royalty.
Terry and Kelli were quick to follow suit. They both help in the ring at the NWSS. For the Wicks family, helping out at the show just made sense.
“It’s always been a family thing for us,” Kelli said. “It’s easy for us to help and continue volunteering for a breed we’re all passionate about.”
The NWSS thrives off of its volunteers. It’s families like the Wicks family who make the shows here a continued success.
As you walk around the bison pens in the yards, you notice the rich heritage that has brought the species where it is today. From the hulking bison bulls to the majestic coloring each of the bison have, it paints a picturesque scene at the National Western Stockyards.
Speaking of painting, Denver native Susan Bell can be found painting on a canvas capturing the bison by each of the stalls.
“I have always loved animals,” Bell said. “You can get great information for your paintings here that you can’t any other way.”
Bell has been attending the National Western since she was a young girl, and she has been painting at the yards for more than 15 years. On average, she paints two to three paintings per day – each painting is done within an hour.
Bell decided to paint at the yards to capture the colors and beauty of the livestock.
“In the world of art, you have to specialize, which I think is really boring,” Bell said. “I thought I could become a western painter so I could paint both animals and landscapes.”
Bell does a great job of capturing the bison through her captivating art and feels privileged to share her work with other animal lovers.
To learn more about Bell’s paintings, visit www.susanbellfineart.com.