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Posted: January 28, 2013

Love letter to the Stock Show

My rule: If you can't lift it, don't eat it

David Sneed

I went to the Stock Show with my daughter – a tradition for us since ‘98. I like the show, I really do. But for the last few years we’ve been too old for the kid stuff and too city for the cowboy stuff, so we walk around making jokes instead.

Natalie: Dad, Why don’t the English saddles have horns?

Me: I don’t know.

Natalie: Because they’re more polite than we are.

She got me with that one during a riding competition in the new arena while we argued over the basis for judging. I thought maybe it was height, and she said the winner was whichever one could eat the most apples. Not the horse, the rider.

Turns out they picked the one that looked the most equine. I realize now that every animal show in the world is based on this principle: The one which looks most like itself wins. To be honest with you, I thought they all did a pretty good job, and I felt bad for the losers.

The trade show was going strong and it seems that, from what I could tell by the exhibits at least, cowboys suffer from fallen arches and sticky pans. Those two categories made up at least half the booths. The rest were hot tubs, blenders, and shiny belts, just like in the wild old west.

I was sad the lady with the sunken treasure wasn’t here this time. There was a chance that this was the year I’d do more than just fondle her doubloons.  I heard from one exhibitor there’s a ten-year wait to get table space. Good for the Stock Show, and good for the Denver economy.

Did admission go up again? It was $19 for adults. I thought it used to be like three or four bucks. Parking is free as usual if you don’t mind watching a frazzled woman load some recalcitrant toddlers and a stroller on a moving hay wagon. I sure don’t. But $8 for a Coors Light? Does anyone else miss the recession?

The 4-H is alive and well.  We (well Natalie, actually) watched some teen boys in dirty Carharts trimming heifer tresses. I guess the prettiest cows fetch more, although a taste-test seems like a better way to figure the value of beef.  I was never actually in 4-H, but I have been to Cheyenne on a Saturday night so I’m somewhat familiar with gussied up cows.

I don’t understand the point of horses, though.

There’s no joke coming. You obviously aren’t in a hurry, so why don’t you just walk? You’ve spent nine hours tying a leather seat to its shoulders for what – 30 minutes of awkward sitting and a potential head injury?  Just buy a Porsche already, it’s easier to park. But I guess horses always start, so maybe it’s a toss-up.

Invariably, the kid and I end up at the food stalls where we always chicken-out on our boast to order the 5-lb. monsterburger. My policy is that if we can’t lift something we have no business eating it – a rule of thumb I picked up from a friend who’s crazy about whales. Generally, we just walk around with a corndog and drippy snow cone saying y’all a lot, pretending we’re on a cattle drive.

One year, I got a turkey leg, but I forgot I wasn’t at the Renaissance Festival and started Milord-ing, and swinging a staff at the peasants. Security assumed I was tanked-up but really: at those prices?

I never make it to the rodeos. Mostly because I don’t like crowds, but also because I think rodeos are inhumane. Why is tying a frail human to the back of a thousand-pound beast for our “entertainment” considered sport? Those poor cowboys. Don’t think I don’t know why it’s held at the Coliseum!

Besides, if I wanted to see inebriated clowns falling out of barrels, I’d have gone home at Christmas.

All in all though, we had a fun 30 minutes. I just wish it hadn’t taken all day.  I’m genuinely glad, though, that Denver has what some people are calling The Day that Greeley Comes to Town.

If you missed it this year, maybe because you don’t like country music, I urge you to check it out next January. It can be a lot of fun. And it’s good for Denver, too. This year the economic impact is expected to be about $33 million – and that’s nothing to laugh about.

David Sneed is the owner of Alpine Fence Company,and the author of" Everyone Has A Boss– The Two Hour Guide to Being the Most Valuable Employee at Any Company." As a Marine, father, employee and boss, David has learned how to help others succeed. He teaches the benefits of a strong work ethic to entry and mid-level employees. Contact him at

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Readers Respond

I did notice an increase in Sharks this year at the Stock Show. Not the kind Steven Spielberg envisioned off the coast of Cape Cod, rather the product that urges us to "say goodbye to the hassles of traditional mopping." This "animal" is light enough to lift, although eating it isn't advised unless it is the Mako variety. While the imagery of booted and spurred cowboys mopping kitchen floors is amusing, the connection of household steam cleaners and the National Stock Show is a reach at best. Although I'm a self-described "city slicker", at next year's show I want to see more items that can only be purchased at the likes of Lou Tauberts, not at Bed Bath & Beyond. By Laura Cook Newman on 2013 01 30
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