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National Western Stock Show records from collections of Colorado Agricultural Archive now on display

January 11, 2010

For more than a century, the annual National Western Stock Show has promoted livestock production and marketing in the western United States. During the past 60 years, the Stock Show has evolved from "the world's most useful livestock event" to "the world's premier center for America's western heritage."

A photo from the Records of the National Western Stock Show exhibit in the Morgan Library Archives and Special Collection reading room.

In addition to livestock judging and rodeo events, the National Western Stock Show now features agricultural equipment displays, western art exhibits, educational booths, and a busy venue for the sale of a multitude of unique items with ties to ranching and farming communities.

New exhibit through Jan. 29

A new exhibit in the Archives and Special Collections reading room in Morgan Library highlights items from the Records of the National Western Stock Show, as well as from three related archival collections preserved in the Colorado Agricultural Archive.

Posters for the exhibit were created from images found in the Records of Colorado Cooperative Extension. Members of the Colorado 4-H Club, the youth division of Cooperative Extension, were present at the National Western Stock Show as early as 1919. Many 4-H members show their project animals at the Stock Show, as well as participating in Catch-It Calf contests and 4-H Round-Up events.

National Bison Association records

The American Buffalo Association, or ABA, held its first bison sale in 1977, in an auction barn north of Denver, Colorado. This sale evolved into the Gold Trophy Show and Sale, held every year in conjunction with the National Western Stock Show.

In 1995, the ABA merged with the National Buffalo Association to form the National Bison Association, which continues the tradition of the Gold Trophy Show and Sale at the annual Stock Show. Items on display from the Records of the National Bison Association include sale premium booklets, a buffalo bronze pendant, and documents illustrating the requirements for exhibiting bison at the Stock Show.

Cattle programs and contests

Colorado cattle feeders had a vested interest in training the next generation of cattlemen. The Colorado Cattle Feeders Association, established in 1955, helped to provide calves for the Catch-It Calf program at the National Western Stock Show, as well as supporting the Fed Beef Contest, which replaced the Fat Steer Contest at the Stock Show in 1965.

Restructured in 1998, the organization is now known as the Colorado Livestock Association. Exhibit items from the Records of the Colorado Cattle Feeders include photographs and letters written by a young Catch-It Calf winner, and documents showing the participation of CSU Animal Sciences professor John Matsushima in the Stock Show’s Fed Beef Contest.

Open to the public 

The exhibit will be open to the public in the Archives reading room (Morgan 202), Mondays through Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Jan. 29. For further information about the exhibit or to access the archival collections, please contact Linda Meyer at (970) 491-4692 or

Contact: Linda Meyer
Phone: (970) 491-4692