CSU and the National Western Stock Show

Colorado State University has a history with the National Western Stock Show that dates back to the first stock show. From the first grand champion steer at the stock show to becoming a key partner in the reimagining of the National Western Center more than 100 years later, CSU is proud to honor it’s agricultural roots, and to utilize the university’s broad expertise, research, and innovation as part of being a Carnegie 1 Research Institution with more than $350 million in research annually.

1870: Territorial bill authorizes the creation of Colorado Agricultural College, a land-grant institution, in Fort Collins.

1899: National Exhibition of Range Cattle is held January 24-26 in Denver.

1902: Colorado Cattle and Horse Growers Association hosts a small livestock show in November.

1903: The success of the Colorado Cattle and Horse Growers Association’s livestock show triggers the development of an animal husbandry department at Colorado Agricultural College.

1905: The Western Stock Show (now the National Western Stock Show) formally opens in January under the direction of Elias M. Ammons, president of the Colorado Cattle Growers Association and brother of Theodosia Ammons, professor of domestic economy at Colorado Agricultural College; George Ballentine, general manager of the Denver Union Stockyard Company; and Fred P. Johnson, publisher of the Record Stockman.

On March 10, the Colorado Cattle and Horse Growers Association elects Elias M. Ammons, a Douglas County cattleman, as president of the Western Stock Show in recognition of his outstanding service to the range industry and his influence in solving range problems and meeting new conditions.

1906: The National Western Stock Show is born with the chartering of the Western Stock Show Association. The first Western Stock Show is held from January 29 to February 3.

The first grand champion steer exhibited at the Stock Show comes from Colorado Agricultural College. The 1,150-pound Shorthorn steer is bought by a Denver butcher, James D. Miller, at a record price of 33 cents per pound.

Colorado Agricultural College wins $475 for first prizes for Aberdeen-Angus bulls and females, two-year-old Shorthorns and Grand Champion Shorthorn Bull. Complaints that the Aggies (Colorado Agricultural College) capture so many awards leads to a rule disqualifying them from competing in following shows, but the rule was not enforced.

A trainload of students from Colorado Agricultural College in Fort Collins arrives on the first day of the National Western Stock Show and spend the full day “practicing judging and practical look studying of the animals.”

On a motion of Dean W.L. Carlyle of Colorado Agricultural College, “Western Livestock Show Association” is chosen for the name of the organization to operate the National Western Stock Show on an annual basis.

Alpha Zeta, the first honorary fraternity at Colorado Agricultural College, forms to recognize scholarly achievement in agriculture.

Hereford bulls at the stock show in 1948.

1907: George E. Morton accepts an animal husbandry position at Colorado Agricultural College and becomes the head of the department and a member of the governing board of the National Western Stock Show soon after.

1908: The Western Livestock Show Association reelects Elias Ammons as president for another term.

1912: After campaigning on a platform emphasizing the need for development of Colorado’s natural resources in agriculture and mining, Elias Ammons is elected governor of Colorado by one of the largest pluralities ever given a governor in the state’s history.

The Livestock Club at Colorado Agricultural College is founded by Roud McCann of the Animal Husbandry Department.

1914: Colorado Agricultural College has its first livestock judging team at the stock show – a tradition that continues today.

1922: Colorado Agricultural College debuts the Pure Seed Show in Colorado Springs and quickly moves it to the stock show.

Beginning in the 1920s, faculty from Colorado Agricultural College serve on special committees for the stock show.

1925: Elias Ammons, the first and only president of the Western Livestock Show Association, dies in May at the age of 64.

W.L. Petriken, president of the Great Western Sugar Co., fine horse fancier and exhibitor in the Horse Show, replaces Ammons as president of the Western Livestock Show Association.

1929: The first female livestock judge at the stock show is Evangeline Simmonds from Colorado Agricultural College’s Livestock Judging Team.

1934: Colorado Agricultural College creates the Little National Western – a tradition that continues today. Students gain experience in training, grooming and showing livestock.

Beginning in the 1930s, members of Colorado State College’s livestock club serve as ushers at the Denver stock show including John Matsushima, now a professor emeritus in the Department of Animal Sciences.

Dan Thornton, 33rd Governor of Colorado, with two bulls in 1945.

1941: George Lawrence, Colorado State College’s well-known herdsman, shows the Reserve Grand Champion Steer, an Angus bred by Albert Kniese of Anton, Colo.

1950s: Colorado State University graduates three of the past presidents of the National Cattlemen’s Association: Robert D. Josserand (1953), Don B. Smith (1956) and Merlyn E. Carlson (1957).

1965: The Fed Beef Contest increases in entries and becomes one of the major practical education highlights under John Matsushima of Colorado State University, the Colorado Cattle Feeders and the Colorado Beef Board. Matsushima continues to this day as honorary chairman of the Fed Beef Contest.

1980: President Nicholas R. Petry announces the creation of the National Western Scholarship fund, with eight annual $1,000 four-year grants to Colorado State University and other higher education institutions.

1989: Patrick Grant heads up “National Western 2000,” a fundraising group organized to support the City of Denver ballot proposal for a $30 million National Western Stock Show building expansion.

1990: Robert E. Moreng becomes the first Colorado State University faculty member to be elected to Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame.

2001: Patrick Grant, president and chief executive officer of the National Western Stock Show, joins Colorado State University’s Board of Governors.

2002: Albert C. Yates, the 12th president of Colorado State University, receives the stock show’s Citizen of the West award.

2005: Dr. Robert Shideler, scholarship committee chairman at the National Western Stock Show and Colorado State University alumnus and retired faculty member, receives the Livestock Leader of the Year award from the university’s Department of Animal Sciences. Colorado State University receives 27 $2,500 scholarships from the stock show.

2006: The centennial celebration of the National Western Stock Show

2014: The WSSA, CSU, the City and County of Denver, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and History Colorado sign a Memorandum of Understanding to work on re-envisioning the NWSS as a center for year-round learning, competition, the arts, and commerce.

2015: The Denver City Council approves the Master Plan for the new “National Western Center,” which is available here