A stroll through the history of the National Western Stock Show

Mid Century

1930s - 1960s

Silver Jubilee - 25th Anniversary

1931 was the Silver Jubilee or 25th anniversary year of the National Western Stock Show and Horse Show. In recognition of this anniversary, the National Western introduced rodeo to its visitors. Now the Stadium Arena was home to livestock, horse, and rodeo events.

Catch-it-Calf begins

In 1935, the Catch-It-Calf program began with 4-H boys completing. Now known as Catch-A-Calf, it is one of the more popular events at the rodeo and livestock show. In 1974 girls began completing in the program.

After the construction on the “Hill” during the stock show’s early years the main buildings used by the stock show would not significantly change for many years.
In 1939, construction began on the WPA Concrete Barn just west of the Stadium. It was completed in 1941 in time for the 1942 show.

As a side effect of increased machination of farming interest in draft horses began to wane. As a result, draft horse competition would leave the Horse Show in the early 1940s.

As it did during World War I the Stock Show would continue during World War II. All the 1943 profits would be invested in War Bonds.


In 1943, Hellspopper was the Grand Champion Steer of the show. He was sold traditionally, but then things changed. He was resold, and resold, and resold in Denver and elsewhere in the country, each time raising more and more money for Father Flanigan’s Home for Boys in Nebraska.

In 1944 the first National Western American Quarter Horse Association show was held.

The 1945 stock show would be a history-maker. Entries filled the facilities. The show would be expanded to nine days and nearly 400 junior steers were sold at auction in the Yards the Friday before the show started.

Continuing to Build

See the next phase | 1980s - 1995