(CBS4) -- The National Western Stock Show still plans to go on as scheduled in January. COVID-19 led to the event's cancellation for only the second time in history last year. The Omicron variant continues to rapidly spread throughout the state, but Stock Show organizers say they're prepared to keep guests safe.
"We came to the aid of the city back in the beginning of the pandemic and opened up this expo hall that we're standing in right now," said Paul Andrews, President and CEO of NWSS.
Earlier this year, more than 5,000 Coloradans received their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Western Complex. Nearby, the Denver Coliseum turned into a shelter for those experiencing with homelessness during the stay-at-home order.
Now, the venue is setting up to welcome hundreds of thousands of guests from all over the country.
When Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Andrews joined to announce the return of the Stock Show over a year ago, the hope was that the city would be in a better place when it comes to COVID.
Conditions are still constantly changing.
When CBS4 spoke to Andrews on Monday, he said masks would only be encouraged at the Stock Show. The city's mask mandate was set to expire before the show began.
Tuesday, the city extended its mask mandate.
The state's requirement to show proof of vaccination for large, unseated events in Denver is set to expire on the Dec. 31 -- eight days before the beginning of the Stock Show. The state hasn't said whether they'll extend the vaccine requirement. CDPHE told CBS4 they're monitoring the situation.
Andrews says unless that mandate is extended, NWSS will not require proof of vaccination to attend.
"About 60 percent of our show is outdoors. Most of the spaces that are indoors have open, huge barn doors that are constantly moving air through. It's really the rodeo arena and the horse show arena are the ones that people might want to mask up in. And we encourage that," Andrews said. "We will also have a rotational cleaning system throughout Stock Show."
He says a mobile vaccination bus will be parked nearby for part of the event.
The NWSS plans to celebrate the workers who've been busy saving lives while the show went dark. Instead of one Grand Marshal for its parade, NWSS will honor frontline heroes.
"We are honoring all of the emergency responders with our grand marshal this year. EMTs, nurses, doctors, police and fire. They will be leading the parade on Jan. 6 into downtown Denver along with the longhorns. These are people that have made the majority of the significant contributions to society over the course of the last year. Our grand marshals are always people that are making huge impacts on society and these individuals have made a huge impact on society," Andrews said.
For more information, visit the National Western Stock Show website.
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