Beginning in 1945, the National Western Stock Show champion steers have paraded into the Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver for afternoon tea.
This luxury hotel, dripping in fine details and gold accents, has become home to two steers and hundreds of people eager to experience this tradition.
This opportunity allows individuals outside the agriculture industry an ability to be up close and personal with the steers that will go on and sell at the Auction of Junior Champions.
for big money.
Additionally, the winning exhibitors get an opportunity to advocate for the livestock industry and place a friendly face to an often unfamiliar experience.
This year, Kutter Bland and Kassidy Bremer were selected champions during the steer show and got to walk their calves on the red carpet into the atrium filled with tea cups and a pen ready for their arrival.
Their capstone experience of the stock show will be selling their steer in the Auction of Junior Champions.
Not everyone that exhibits livestock at the National Western Stock Show comes with a traditional agriculture background. Today, I had the opportunity of meeting one those families, the May family from Davis, Massachusetts.
The May’s passion for the Highland cattle breed started just 13 years ago. Gerry, the father of the May family, worked tirelessly year after year to control the brush on their land at Cape Cod. After visiting with some friends and attending a local expo, the family decided to purchase three full-blood Highland heifers as a way to control their land with less labor.
Soon after the cattle were purchased, the family decided that they wanted to raise their children around agriculture. With the only experience the family had in agriculture being Laura, the mother of the May family, owning one horse while growing up, this was a new and exciting adventure for them.
Now, with their three children, the family travels to nearby states such as Maine, New York and Pennsylvania to compete with their purebred Highland cattle, along with their annual trip to the National Western Stock Show. The family takes on a three-day journey of over 2,000 miles to compete in the “world series of stock shows”, where they have attended for the last six-years.
When asking the kids why they enjoyed showing Highlands specifically, Jackie said, “Highlands are the most efficient of all the breeds in my opinion. Since they have so much hair, they are a lot easier to maintain and requires a lot less feed. Highlands are crossbred with a lot of different breeds because the hair they have has a lot of volume that comes naturally.”
The May family will be competing in the National Highland Show on January 25 at 8:00 a.m.
Guest Blogger: Emily Smith, National Western Marketing Intern
The Junior Market Steer Show today was sorted by three of some of the most respected livestock evaluators in the industry, Brandon Callis, Dave Allen and Mark Core. These three not only expressed how much they enjoy their time behind a microphone, but also the relationships that are built in and out of the show ring.
“Relationships are paramount to making this deal work,” Callis said.
The three of the judges spoke this morning about how in the livestock industry you develop such neat relationships and how vital those relationships are to keep them going.
As the youngest member of the steer show judge committee, Callis valued his time to spend in the ring judging with the other two individuals he has so much respect for.
“I am living the dream,” Callis said.
Allen has been to the National Western Stock Show exhibiting cattle since the 80’s and expressed how prestigious it is to be asked to come judge this steer show.
“It is an honor to work with people you have huge respect for in the industry and judging, as well as judge in a place I have been coming to my whole life with so much history,” Allen said.
When asked this morning if Core was excited to be here judging at the National Western, it almost caught him off guard.
“This is an opportunity you dream about being able to do,” Core said. “This environment is one I love so much. It has been a pleasure to be at the National Western.”
Contrary to popular belief, yaks are their own species, not related to cattle.
While yaks carry some similar traits of cattle, an added bonus is the fiber that the animals possess. Additionally, yaks eat 1/3 of the amount of feed and grain that cattle require which increases efficiency and decreases the producer’s cost.
The International Yak Association organizes the registry to keep a history of the species.
Claire Roberts, registrar of the International Yak Association, said “We try to educate the public of why everyone should have Yaks and why we should purchase the byproducts.”
The National Western Stock Show provides International Yak Association members the opportunity to meet other breeders and fair goers and promote the species and the byproducts that come from them - fiber, meat and milk.
The Yak show has three categories, the pen show, fiber show, and haltered show. The haltered show includes classes of haltered animals, showmanship and the outfitter class. The outfitter class is unique to the Yak show. This allows handlers to reflect on the Tibetan history of the species through special outfits.
To learn more, visit iyak.org.
The Commercial Heifer Show at the National Western Stock Show has been held for over 100 years. The Commercial Heifer Show and Sale was started and based around the commercial cattlemen who came to the yards to purchase commercial bulls and commercial heifers for their operation.
Once the popularity of spring bull sales grew, less cattlemen came to the National Western to purchase their bulls, but the commercial heifer show tradition was able to stay alive.
Today, the commercial heifer show is supported and held in conjunction with the Colorado Cattlemen’s Convention. With this support, cattlemen can attend the convention and enjoy the commercial heifer show and sale during their trip.