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Concerns Over Pandemic Postpone Stock Show To 2022

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Courtesy National Western Stock Show/Volunteer Photographer
The 115th annual National Western Stock Show will be postponed until January 2022.

For only the second time in its 115-year history, the National Western Stock Show has canceled its upcoming event.

“The last time this occurred was 1915 when another disease hit livestock across the country known as hoof and mouth disease,” said Paul Andrews, the organization’s president and CEO. “That was a disease of the animals; this is a pandemic us humans have to face.”

The event, which typically takes place in January, will return in 2022, Andrews said, adding that the organization looked at every option possible before making the decision to postpone, including a virtual stock show. But they couldn’t find one that worked financially and maintained safety.

“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,” he said. “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, if we had moved forward with the January show and it was canceled at the last minute.”

Andrews says the one silver lining is that due to the postponement, greater progress will be made on the complex’s current renovation, meaning the 2022 stock show will be held in the new stock yards event center currently under construction.

He also added that youth exhibitors who would have aged out of the program in 2021 will be allowed to compete at the 2022 event.

The 16-day event draws more than 700,000 people to Denver’s National Western Center, said Doug Jones, chairman of the Western Stock Show Association. And it has an economic impact of $120 million in January alone.

“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,” Jones said. “But the iconic Western events and traditions we all know and love will be back in 2022, stronger than ever.”

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said he was pleased that stock show officials made the difficult - but necessary - decision.

“Even if a vaccine is approved and used by the end of this year - let’s say early to mid-December - you still have the challenge of making sure that everyone has been vaccinated, or at least enough people are being vaccinated, and you have herd immunity,” Hancock said. “That will not occur in January. Even the best models tell you it won’t happen until at least the end of the first quarter or the beginning of the second quarter.”