The stock show bought out the Denver County Fair, but it’s keeping the urban flair and unicorn rides

The new owner of the Denver County Fair hopes “aggressive” ticket pricing and more games and rides will draw upward of 30,000 people to the National Western Complex this weekend.
3 min. read
County Fair (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

The 2016 Denver County Fair. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

The new owner of the Denver County Fair hopes "aggressive" ticket pricing and more games and rides will draw upward of 30,000 people to the National Western Complex this weekend.

If the Western Stock Show Association is successful, that would represent a 40 to 50 percent bump in fair goers compared to past year's numbers, said John Ellis, vice president of business development for the association.

The Western Stock Show Association went from landlord of the Denver County Fair to owner of the event in February after the entrepreneurs who started it in 2011 offered to sell for an undisclosed price. As the organizer of the Rodeo All-Star and National Western Stock Show, Ellis said, the association wants to grow the fair without changing its weird flair.

"We're trying to keep the weirdness. Our new tagline is 'Fair-ly Weird,'" he said. "We've added the largest carnival the fair's ever had. It will have 20-plus rides and games."

The association also added two sold-out sessions of goat yoga and a beer and wine festival. Denver fair mainstays like the "unicorn" rides, freak show, specialized pavilions, eating contest and live music and performances are expected to stay. A full schedule of events can be found here.

What are the hours and cost?

The fair is set to run from noon to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 1o a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. The carnival is scheduled to stay open two hours later on Friday and Saturday, closing at 11 p.m.

Adults will get in the door for $10 a ticket. Kids ages 3-11 can get in for $3 a pop. Or alternatively, adults could drop $20 and kids $10 for entrance and access to unlimited rides. More ticket info can be found here.

Looking forward

Taking over an urban-focused Denver County Fair is new territory for the stock show association. The rodeo and National Western Stock Show promote Colorado's Western values and heritage, making it a time to break out the boots.

"For a lot of our staff this has been a step out of our comfort zone," Ellis said. "We have a lot of people here who grew up with a Western lifestyle, but everyone is embracing it."

Long term, there's a chance to see the Denver County Fair grow even more as the association works with Colorado State University and the city and county of Denver on the National Western Complex redevelopment and expansion.

"As the campus gets developed and built out over the next several years we see great opportunities for the county fair because we'll have more space," Ellis said. "The new stockyard area will not have permanent pens, so during the summer months that will be 20 acres of open pavilion space. That will be a great spot to have a large part of Denver County Fair with carnival and outdoor activities."

Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at [email protected] or

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