By Eric Heinz
Last January was the first time the National Western Stock Show was back in town following the height of the COVID pandemic restrictions, but it still felt a little quieter than in years past.
At the time, most of the buildings planned for the National Western Center were still waiting to break ground, and the adjoining CSU Spur Campus was still under construction. The only newly completed construction sites for the Stock Show are the event center and holding pens with heating, but last year the National Western Center Authority started work on the new livestock building.
With more attendees estimated this year, the economic engineer of the Stock Show may be returning. National Western Stock Show CEO Paul Andrews told The G.E.S. Gazette that about $10 million in animal exchanges happen during the auction sales throughout the event, which began Jan. 7 and ends Jan. 22.
Andrews said if there are 700,000 attendees throughout the 16 days, which the Stock Show was able to attract before the pandemic, the increase in visitors could have an economic impact of about $130 million, between hotel rooms, gas, and other purchases. Last year, there were a little less than 600,000 who made their way to the Stock Show. The 2021 show was canceled, but a record of more than 707,000 attended in 2020.
“We already have 48 states entered in the National Western Stock Show this year,” Andrews said. “So they’re coming from everywhere except Hawaii and Alaska. It is a pretty amazing thing to think about that we started in 1906 and just had 351 exhibitors that year. This year, we’ll have nearly 15,000 exhibitors.”
Andrews said the data of how many local G.E.S. residents the Stock Show hires for seasonal work each year is not sufficient, but he said some of the post-show numbers collected suggest it could be about 15%. He said he “would love” for that number to be 100% in the future.
“We’ve been fortunate this year. We hire around 600 to 700 people every year, this year we went with some staffing services that were able to help us with a lot of people that we weren’t actually able to hire in the seasonal positions,” Andrews said. “We are happy to report we are fully staffed for this year for the National Western Stock Show.”
About 30% of the trade show vendors will be new this year, Andrews said, which will include Western products.
“For the first time ever, we will have something imported from Switzerland called the valet blacknose sheep,” he said. “They are very small sheep that will be in our expo hall on the trade show floor. People will think they are a stuffed animal, but no, they are alive, so please don’t try to buy one and take them home.”
A new feature this year is the rodeo events format in a “tournament style” similar to March Madness, Andrews said, with the finals being premiered on Saturday and Sunday.