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Clear your January 2022 calendar: The National Western Stock Show will return. President and CEO Paul Andrews says he “can guarantee you that.”
The news comes days after the city of Denver delayed some plans to renovate and expand the National Western Center, home to the popular livestock show, trade show and rodeo.
“We are 100% sure that the National Western Stock Show is occurring …” Andrews said. “January 8 through the 23rd.”
Stock Show officials cancelled the 2021 event — a Denver tradition for more than a century — because of the pandemic. It sent ripple effects around the country and around the world, as the event draws thousands each year on top of nearly 900 vendors. The show has an annual economic impact of about $120 million in a given year, Andrews said.
The nonprofit that’s in charge of the show itself, the Western Stock Show Association, lost up to $24 million after canceling 2021.
“I had to lay off nearly 60% of my staff to survive this,” said Andrews, who according to financial documents made about $400,000 in his role in 2019. “But we’ve still got to pay a heating bill, still got to pay property taxes and we’ve still got to pay the salaries of the people remaining.”
That’s just the local and immediate losses, Andrews noted. An Oklahoma group formed this year to put on a new stock show to fill the gap left by the National Western Stock Show, which he said is “impacting our ability to host our Super Bowl of livestock shows in 2022.”
Still, Andrews expressed optimism that Denver’s 114-year-old tradition will hold strong and keep the vendors and people coming.
Patty Lewis and her 91-year-old mother Oleta Smith welcomed the news that the 2022 Stock Show will go on. For decades, the pair, which co-own Rockin P Ranch, has hauled their jewelry, clothing and more from their homes in Ouray to Denver for the National Western Trade Show, part of the larger stock show.
The 2021 cancellation meant a loss of about a third of their annual income, Lewis said.
“We took a bit hit, Denver is one of our biggest shows,” Lewis said.
Each year before heading to the trade show, Lewis said she mails out about 1,400 invitations to their regular customers, and they’ll do that again as the 2022 show approaches.
“We’ll definitely be there and our customers will be too,” Lewis said.
Already, the National Western Center campus is hosting smaller events in compliance with COVID-19 regulations, Andrews said, and he thinks new attractions like the Stockyard Events Center and stockyards should draw people in.
The pandemic also gave construction workers time and space to make progress on existing projects, Tykus Holloway, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center, said in a statement.
“Significant progress is being made on construction of the new campus with new roads, bridges, utilities, rail consolidation and riverfront work,” Holloway said. “Work is on schedule and we are looking forward to sharing our progress as well as the debut of the new Stockyards Events Center and Stockyards with visitors and exhibitors at the 2022 Stock Show.”
But state and local regulations change with the tide of the pandemic, and while President Joe Biden said earlier this month achieving herd immunity by the end of the summer would be difficult.
Denver public health officials did not immediately respond when asked what type of regulations the 2022 stock show might face.