16 things we can’t wait to see at the 2022 National Western Stock Show

Rodeo Graphic

Colorado State University has partnered with the National Western Stock Show since the beginning and even used to close the campus during the Stock Show to let students compete in show events. The partnership has always been strong, and in 2022, CSU System will open CSU Spur, a new public-facing campus on the grounds of the Stock Show as part of the National Western Center redevelopment.

Are you itching to get back to the stock show? Well, hold your horses, partner!

GIF of a cow scratching his backend on a bar.

While the Stock Show – touted as the “Best 16 Days in January” – was postponed due to COVID this year, here are the 16 National Western Stock Show highlights that we can’t wait to have back in 2022!

1 – The National Stock Show Parade

Because herding massive Texas Longhorn steer through downtown Denver is totally normal.

GIF: Scenes from the National Western Stock Show parade in downtown Denver

Each January, the National Western Stock Show kicks off with a parade. On parade day, Denver trades its busy city streets for clomping cattle, kids, and cowboy boots — and CAM the Ram. The National Western Stock Show, which draws more than 700,000 attendees each year, kicks off with an annual parade in the heart of Denver.


2 – Cowboy Couture: Get Gussied Up

It’s the one time of the year when self-proclaimed city slickers can trade their suits and heels for cowboy boots and hats.

Chacnellor Tony Frank wearing a cowboy hat at the National Western Stock Show

Each January, cowboy couture rides into fashion at the National Western Stock Show. To fit in, look for these items in your closet: basically anything with fringe, bolo ties, blue jeans, turquoise jewelry, belt buckles, boots, snaps, leather chaps, cowboy hats, spurs, beaded belts, bandanas, rhinestones, and feathers. You’re welcome.


3 – Selfies with CAM the Ram

Don’t be sheepish, snap a selfie with CAM the Ram during CSU Day. He’ll probably even smile.

A kid takes a picture with CAM the Ram at the National Western Stock Show

If anyone loves a good photo op, it’s CAM the Ram. He visits the stock show every year on CSU Day, with the help of his Ram Handlers, and he’s always ready to cheese with new friends.


4 – The “Cute” Factor

Llamas and piglets and cute kids, oh my! The Stock Show brings all the cute to the yard.

The National Western Stock Show is always good for bringing the cute. You are sure to see little cowboys and cowgirls and furry faces prime for petting. When an animal is born in the yards, attendees occasionally get the chance to vote on a name for the young baby. In fact, Rocky Mountain Ice was just named at the 2020 Stock Show. Who is cuter, the kids or the animals? We will let you decide.


5 – CSU Ag Adventure

Spur your imagination (and milk a fake cow) at CSU’s Ag Adventure!

GIF: Scenes from CSU Ag Adventure at the National Western Stock Show

Let’s be real, people of all ages enjoy CSU’s Ag Adventure at the Stock Show. The interactive exhibit teaches children about where their food comes from and about agricultural products they utilize every day. This year, kids can complete 16 days of fun activities and challenges through the CSU Ag Adventure Guide, exploring topics like livestock production, animal husbandry, crop production and land stewardship, as well as history related to the National Western Stock Show. When the CSU Spur campus opens in 2022, the Terra building will focus on food and agriculture, offering summer camps for kids, a K-12 Ag Discovery Center, a food lab for industry collaboration, and more. Learn more about the CSU Spur campus.


6 – Mutton Bustin’

Saddle up for a white-knuckle ride on a fluffy friend. CAM the Ram will even help train “ewe” for the big event.

Mutton bustin’ makes the rodeo accessible for more folks, in fact, brave little busters don’t have to own a horse or be part of an agricultural family to take this wild and wooly ride! Each year on CSU Day, a dozen future Rams join the ranks of the mutton busters. Mutton busters must apply in advance of the stock show and are randomly selected by drawing. Eligible busters must be between 5- and 7-years-old, weigh less than 55 pounds. See some of the Stock Show’s cutest busters in this Facebook post.


7 – An Evening of Dancing Horses

Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, you can watch horses get their groove on.

GIF: Scenes from An Evening of Dancing Horses at the National Western Stock Show

That’s right, Dancing Horses. Equestrian talent from around the world performs to live music at An Evening of Dancing Horses. The event features formal dressage, reining, liberty and more. But don’t expect any singing; the ponies are always a little hoarse. (Ba-doom-ching.)


8 – Rodeo Thrills and Spills

Hold on tight! The National Western Stock Show will take your heart rate for a ride.

GIF: Scenes from rodeos at the National Western Stock Show

Saddle up! If there is one word that is synonymous with the National Western Stock Show, it is rodeo. Top rodeo athletes from around the U.S. ride into Denver every January to compete in barrel racing, bull riding and more. Thousands of fans head to the Stock Show to watch cowboys and cowgirls at the Pro Rodeos, Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza, PBR Bull Riding, Martin Luther King Jr. African American Heritage Rodeo and Military Appreciation Night.


9 – Doo Doo Duty

Watch your step! What do you do with 170 football fields of livestock poo? 😳💩

GIF of a cow

Twenty-three professional rodeos. 100-plus livestock shows. Thousands of animals. Sixteen days. The National Western Stock Show is no stranger to mucking stalls. Each year, around 17,000 yards of manure is hauled off the stock show grounds. That’s 170 football fields! The manure is transformed into high quality, organic compost and shipped to different retail locations along the Front Range … Instead of doo-doo-duties, CSU veterinary students collect urine samples from animals to ensure show ethics and food safety. How do you get a goat to pee? Well, you can’t. It’s a waiting game. Learn more about the process in this SOURCE article.


10 – The Adventures of Dally & Spanky

There’s literally a dog and pony show.

GIF: A dog jumps on a horse's back

What do you get when you mix a spunky Jack Russell terrier and an ornery miniature horse? A ridiculously cute and entertaining live performance. The unlikely friendship between Dally the Jack Russell Terrier and Spanky the rescued miniature horse is an annual crowd pleaser at the Stock Show.

The CSU Spur Vida building will be home to equine athlete medical care, the Temple Grandin Equine Center, and the Dumb Friends League Solutions-Veterinary Hospital … all on-display for visitors to watch. Maybe one day you’ll see Dally and Spanky get their check-ups at Vida in the future?


11 – Eat Your Deep-fried Heart Out

Stock Show food deserves its own spot on the food pyramid.

GIF of different foods found at fairs

Indulge in your fair favorites like funnel cakes, hot nuts, corn dogs, cotton candy, deep-fried Oreos, pretzels, nachos, and turkey legs. Did we mention funnel cakes, hot nuts, corn dogs, cotton candy, deep-fried Oreos, pretzels, nachos, and turkey legs? 😋


12 – Moooove over. It’s the CSU Seedstock Merchandising Team

The select eight members of CSU’s Seedstock Merchandising Team raise and sell bulls with specific genetic characteristics to commercial ranchers who use them for breeding in the beef industry.

Cows getting groomed at the National Western Stock Show

The two-semester course allows for a real-world, hands-on learning environment and an opportunity for students to network within the beef cattle industry. The team shows its cattle at the National Western Stock Show each year.


13 – Shop ‘Til You Drop

In case your holiday gifts fell flat, shop ‘til you drop.

GIF: Different items for sale at the National Western Stock Show, like boots and hats

If you’re lacking western wear, no worries. You can find everything from beaded belts to silver jewelry and more from hundreds of vendors and exhibitors. And hey, if fashion doesn’t fit your fancy, you can even go home with a new RV, sushi knives, or a hot tub.  If you’re still hankering for a 2021 deal, you can browse the virtual vendor shopping website.


14 –  Elbow, Elbow, Wrist, Wrist 👋

Each year, Miss Rodeo Colorado is crowned in front of adoring crowds including her biggest fan, CAM the Ram.

Miss Rodeo Colorado gives CAM the Ram a kiss.

The incoming Miss Rodeo Colorado is crowned each January at the National Western Stock Show. During the year of her reign, she travels more than 50,000 miles appearing at nearly 100 rodeo performances, as well as appearances at schools, civic groups, and other events, educating the public and creating awareness about the sport of rodeo, its sponsors, and its opportunities.


15 – Giddy Up and Get There

Whether you travel by stagecoach, airplane, or railway, there are plenty of ways to get to the Stock Show when it returns in 2022.

GIF: People ride horses and carriages

Don’t worry, you won’t need a stagecoach to get to the Stock Show in 2022. Hop on the new RTD N line at Union Station, the first stop is the National Western Center station. In the future, the line will be a convenient way to visit the future CSU Spur campus at the National Western Center.


16 – CSU Spur Grand Opening in 2022!

Things will look a lot different when we return to the 2022 Stock Show — CSU will have a big unveiling, the grand opening of the CSU Spur campus as part of the future National Western Center! CSU Spur will be a year-round, open-to-the-public campus for the entire family to explore water, food, and health.

CSU Spur is a place being built for the public, a destination for discovery and experiences around water, food, and health.

CSU Spur = Museum + Research Lab + University + Art Studio + Backyard and Riverfront + Market + Gathering Space + Innovation Hub + Performance Space.

CSU Spur is more than a place, it’s a movement. Where learning is open and accessible to all. Where researchers tackle the most pressing problems in water, food, and health. Where art and culture surround you. CSU Spur, CSU System’s new campus committed to the future issues around water, food, and health, located on the grounds of the historic Stock Show. CSU Spur will open in 2022 and be home to the new Denver Water water quality lab, Dumb Friends League Solutions-Veterinary Hospital, Temple Grandin Equine Center, Salazar Center for North American Conservation, North American Agricultural Advisory Network, Together We Grow, and many more partners.

Photos courtesy of Colorado State University and the National Western Stock Show.