The National Western Stock Show & Rodeo had a soft opening, but a pleased crowd to kick off its 107th edition Saturday at Interstate 70 and Brighton Boulevard.
"We love it every year," said Walter Moore of El Paso County, 71, attending his 25th straight show Saturday. "We don't care about football, and I like the cold."
Even with an afternoon game for the Denver Broncos and a temperature of 7 degrees when the doors opened at 9 a.m., the crowds surged in and lines at the box office were long for more than an hour.
But after braving the entry line, it was leisurely walks and afternoon weather that was sunny and pleasant.
The show continues daily until Jan. 27
"We have little ones, so we couldn't miss it for anything," said Susanne Collins of Loveland, with 6-year-old twins, Hailey and Megan, at her feet.
"They come every year, and they've been hearing about it at school, so we checked the roads and came on down," Collins said.
Thousands came down for the livestock, rodeos, shopping, food and the larger herd of sights, smells and sounds at the National Western Complex.
Last year the show's attendance was 636,663, generating an estimated $100 million boost to the metro area's economy. The stock show brings together more than 15,000 head of livestock, scores of rich cattlemen, more than 350 vendors and thousands of young competitors. The show's profits fund more than 70 new scholarships each year for students most likely to revitalize farms, ranches and rural communities.
"We won't do a big business every day, but the National Western is a good show for us every year," said Berry Simmons of Round Rock, Texas, who worked at a Western wear clothing booth Saturday. "It's the first big show of the new year every year, so that makes everybody happy."
As a soothing blast of warm air greeted those who made the march or shuttle ride from far-flung lots to the Expo Hall entrance, long, winding lines at the box office became the next reality at times Saturday, and made some regret not making advance purchases online or at some King Soopers or City Market stores.
Admission the first weekend of the show is $17 for adults and $3 for children younger than 12. The following two weekends tickets are $19 and $3.The last Sunday, Jan. 27, is Fan Appreciation Day, and all adult tickets are $8. Rodeos and other special events take a separate, more expensive ticket, that includes admission to the grounds. Most events are free.
This weekend is the Colorado Rocky Mountain Fiddle Championships each day in the Beef Palace Arena. Competitors of all ages from across the country compete for prizes, while making beautiful music of the West. There is no extra charge.
Rodeo fans can catch the finals between Colorado champions versus world champions at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Coliseum for shares of the $100,000 purse. Tickets range from $25 to $65.
Joey Bunch: 303-954-1174, email@example.com or twitter.com/joeybunch