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National Western Stock Show Postponed Until January 2022 Because Of COVID-19

DENVER (CBS4) -- The 115th annual National Western Stock Show will not happen in January of 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The giant trade show and rodeo will resume in January 2022, officials announced Monday.

National Western Stock Show
Attendees purchase tickets to the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado on January 7, 2017. Established in 1911, the National Western Stock Show is the premier livestock, rodeo, and horse show in the United States. (credit: JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images)

Established in 1911, the National Western Stock Show is the premier livestock, rodeo, and horse show in the United States. The 16-day show is Colorado's largest western trade show. It draws over 700,000 attendees and drives an economic impact of nearly $120 million in January alone, according to officials.

(credit: CBS)

Paul Andrews, president and CEO of the NWSS, spoke at a news conference on Monday.

"The current health rules in place regarding social distancing and large gatherings make it impossible for us to provide an experience that our loyal fans expect at the show," Andrews said. "As an indoor event in the heart of winter, we could not risk the safety and health of our guests, our exhibitors, our volunteers, and our staff, this January, as the pandemic rages on."

"We also could not risk the possible financial setback to our organization, or our exhibitors that travel from more than 40 states and 35 countries, at great expense," he stated. "We reviewed and exhausted, every possible option, including having a virtual show, but each model was rejected, either due to financial projections, or the risk of further spread of COVID-19."

The NWSS has only been postponed one other time in its history -- also due to a contagious illness, according to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. That was in 1915, when a "hoof and mouth" epidemic hit livestock across the country.

Gov. Jared Polis released the following statement on the National Western Stock Show's decision to postpone the show until 2022:

"The National Western Stock Show is a proud tradition in our state and one of the ways we can all come together to celebrate agriculture in Colorado and across the west. Just as I enjoyed going as a kid, we now enjoy bringing our kids in proud support of ranching in Colorado. I'm disappointed that the show couldn't occur this time due to the pandemic, but I respect the National Western Stock Show's decision and know it was a difficult one to make. I look forward to being able to attend an even bigger and better Stock Show the following year."

The following statement was posted on the National Western Stock Show website on Monday:

The Western Stock Show Association (WSSA) Board of Directors together with the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) management, has made the difficult decision to postpone the 115th National Western Stock Show by one year and to resume the event in January 2022. 

The COVID-19 pandemic does not allow for the Stock Show to host the annual event and comply with the health and safety guidelines that are necessary to protect Coloradans and help stop the spread. More importantly, the projected environment through to the end of the year is too uncertain and therefore not reassuring enough to allow a traditional Stock Show to take place without potentially compromising the health and safety of exhibitors, visitors, and the public at large. 

"The decision to postpone the 2021 Stock Show is incredibly difficult for our Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, business partners and the City and County of Denver," stated Doug Jones, Chairman of the WSSA, "but the iconic western events and traditions we all know and love will be back in 2022, stronger than ever," added Jones. 

"Over the past several months, we reviewed and exhausted every option possible to host our event including a modified show with reduced capacity," said Paul Andrews, President and CEO of the NWSS. "Ultimately, the health and safety of our guests, exhibitors, volunteers, and staff is of top priority and the NWSS and the City of Denver could not find a path forward to have Stock Show and comply with the rules that govern gatherings of our size and rules of social distancing," said Andrews.  

Stock Show management made the early decision due to the intense planning and expenses that go into the NWSS. "We needed to make sure we announced early enough so all the livestock producers, contestants, competitors, and exhibitors do not incur time and cost they can't recover," stated Andrews, "and as an indoor event in the heart of winter, we had to consider the virus could be spread more easily indoors, potentially compromising the safety and health of thousands of people. The responsible decision was to postpone the show."  

Every January, the NWSS hosts the super bowl of livestock shows along with professional rodeo competition and horse shows that are celebrated globally. The trade show is the largest western trade show in Colorado with nearly 900 booth spaces throughout the 90-acre grounds. The Stock Show draws over 700,000 attendees during the 16 days in January with record days seeing over 65,000 guests on site. The NWSS drives an economic impact of nearly 120 million dollars in January alone. The show supports 4-H and FFA partnerships that span more than a century and supports over 100 students annually studying in the fields of agriculture and rural medicine at dozens of colleges throughout Colorado and Wyoming. All of this as a non-profit 501(c)(3). 

"We would like to thank our loyal stock show fans that are standing by us through this unprecedented time in history," said Andrews. "We look forward to celebrating the return of Stock Show in 2022 with the grand opening of the historic Yards and Stockyards Event Center. Mark your calendars for January 8th through the 23rd, 2022," said Andrews. 

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