City officials and event organizers said Monday that the 2021 National Western Stock Show has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 115th edition will move to 2022.
It’s just the second time in the show’s history it’s been postponed. An outbreak of hoof and mouth disease in 1915 among livestock caused it to be postponed, according to National Western Stock Show President and CEO Paul Andrews. He joined other event and city officials during a press briefing on Monday.
“We’re extremely saddened by the need to announce today the postponement of the 115th National Western Stock Show by one year to January 2022,” Andrews said.
Calling the Stock Show the “Super Bowl of livestock shows,” Western Stock Show Association board chairman Doug Jones said rules governing gatherings of this size for social distancing and masking meant the show could not go on next year. Andrews also mentioned health rules in place made it “impossible” to put on the multi-day event.
Andrews said as an indoor event in the heart of winter, they could not risk the safety and health of guests, exhibitors, volunteers and staff in January. He said exhibitors travel to Denver from more than 40 states and 35 countries. He noted they explored the idea of having a virtual model, but that and other options were rejected due to financial projections and the risk of spreading the disease.
Making the decision now was important, Andrews added. While a vaccine is in the works and could potentially be available by the end of the year, he said the decision needed to be made this early due to the planning and expenses that go into putting the Stock Show together.
Founded in 1906, the livestock show, rodeo and horse show happens every in January for 16 days, attracting some 650,000 guests. The 2021 edition was scheduled to take place from Jan. 9 to 24.
Mayor Michael Hancock said the decision to cancel the show was the right one, even if it was difficult. He noted not having the show would result in a more than $100 million economic impact to the city and region, as there won’t be additional people staying in hotels and eating at local restaurants. He thanked the Stock Show board for making the decision he said considers the health and safety of residents, visitors, exhibitors and volunteers
He alluded to the last time the Stock Show was postponed.
“The Stock Show, to make this step, 100 years later, quite frankly shows the wisdom and the real commitment they have not only for the show itself but to the people who support it and the people who would show up here to be a part (of it) from all over the world,” Hancock said.
One silver lining: The pause will mean the construction of the National Western Center, the Stock Show’s future home, will make a little more progress. Andrews said the grand opening for the new stock yards will take place in the 2022 edition. And Andrews said youth exhibitors who would have been too old to participate in the 2022 edition but were planning on participating in 2021 as 18-year-olds will be allowed to compete in 2022.