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Getting Dirty at the 104th National Western Stock Show and Rodeo

Bucking Bronco
Bucking Bronco

Upon entering the Denver Coliseum the lungs are filled with a palpable mixture of dust, manure, and rawhide; informing the senses of what lies behind the crimson curtains, Colorado’s 104th National Western Stock Show and Rodeo.

Bull Rider and Mr. Bull in a dance of doom.
Steffen L. Williamson

Everything from rodeo contestants to farm animal wranglers, and western merchants fill every nook and cranny of the legendary arena; promising the good God fearing people of Denver, Colorado a rip-roaring of a buckaroo time. The looks of spectators are participants alike are traditional, as hairdos, comfortable khakis, and loafers are replaced with ten gallon hats, restrictive denim, and snake skin boots. As the golden ale begins to flow, cowpokes take their seats to witness the precarious state of affairs that is a western rodeo scene.

Men and woman strapped to the backs of powerful herbivorous beasts galloping and springing into the air, do so with brass balls of bravery; pleasing the masses as thunderous applause of content fills the coliseum. Bucking broncos leap into the air in hopes of de-saddling the cowboy who tends what’s left of the reins. Barrel racers round the corner of a dime, bending, leaning, reaching for the goal in a whip encouraged dead sprint to the end. Finishing the night off is the crowd favorite, bull riding. Weighing in at nearly a ton, these bovines engage in a death spin of horns and flying snot, desperately attempting to rid themselves of their cowboy annoyance atop their humped backs. Once in the dirt, it’s the jester of the arena, the rodeo clown, only thing that stands between the cowboy and the infuriated charging hamburger. Ducking into a barrel to be hurtled into the air for a short flight and a sudden drop is what these clowns do best. Sacrificing their own physical well being so that these cowboys can ride another day and also so that parents in the crowd don’t have to convince Junior it’s just ketchup.

The packed stadium seats at this year’s National Western Stock Show and Rodeo proved that there are some things that are recession proof. Action, carnage and comedy; these three elements of human life will never falter as long as there still is a burning craving for what was once the Old West.