Rangers Gun Wins at Denver National

Texas Longhorns at the National Western Stock Show

 By Randy Witte

Stan Searle rides point while leading his cows down through Denver’s financial district

Denver’s big winter event, the 108th annual National Western Stock Show, ran January 11-26, featuring some 70 livestock breed shows including the Texas Longhorn show. For the eighth straight year, the stock show was kicked off with a Longhorn cattle drive along downtown Denver’s 17th street, and the crowd was bigger than ever.

Stan Searle of Monument, Colo., provides the cattle. Ranch foreman Gary Lake of Ellicott, Colo., provides the cowboys, and Denverites crowd along both sides of the street to cheer as they watch a bit of the Old West come alive. Gary said the crowd was the biggest yet-“at least 35,000 people watched it this year,” he said. 
The good-looking Searle cows enthralled an estimated 35,000 spectators during the National Western Stock Show parade in Denver last month.

Stan always rides point, and visits with by-standers, reporters and photographers as the herd travels through normally busy intersections, passes over steamy grates in the street, and parades past the venerable Brown Palace Hotel.

Longhorns returned to the stock show grounds for five days, which included a two-day show that created a bit of history in that the show was sanctioned for the first time by both national associations-the International Texas Longhorn Association and the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America.

Seventy-three head of cattle were entered in the show, which was produced by the regional affiliates of both national associations, the Mountain States Texas Longhorn Association (ITLA) and the Mountains and Plains Texas Longhorn Association (TLBAA).

The two affiliates pooled their efforts for the first time a year ago, when Mountains and Plains invited Mountain States to help hold an open show at Denver’s National Western, and then worked together to have the 2014 show sanctioned by both ITLA and TLBAA.

Since then, a lot of these regional Longhorn breeders have become members of both affiliates and both national associations. 

So, for the first time in the National Western show’s history, cattle could be registered in one or both associations, with show points counting toward qualification in championship / world shows of both ITLA and TLBAA respectively. Cattle were shown and judged in classes together, and exhibitors had the option of having points tabulated for their cattle in one or both associations.

Another first for the show this year came in the form of beautiful trophy belt buckles for top winners, in addition to the ribbons, banners and $5,370 in premiums.

There was also a  youth/pee wee show, and Barb Fillmore of Elbert, Colo. (left, rear) assisted her grandson, Brody Weston, daughter Ashley Fillmore, and grand-daughter Savanah Weston, as they led their cattle around the arena.

Lana Hightower of Van, Tex., judged the show, and she was well suited for this role. She and her husband, Dr. Gene Hightower, have produced 13 TLBAA world champions, one reserve grand champion and one grand champion. She has judged Texas Longhorn shows throughout the country, including the ITLA Championship Show and the TLBAA World Show trophy steer division. Lana is also currently serving as a TLBAA director. 

Jim Civis of Lamar, Colo., served as announcer. He and his wife, Betty, have been longtime Longhorn breeders, although they are sitting out of the breeding business these days because of the prolonged drought in their part of the state. Jim was ably assisted with his announcing duties by John Nelson of Wellington, Colo., who with his wife, Darlene, also produced a slick, colorful program for the show. 

Lana Pearson of Fowler, Colo., for years has been the “go to” person at the Denver show, and again she was the “first to arrive and last to leave” during the five days the cattle were exhibited in the historic Denver stockyards. The show itself included a haltered and non-haltered division that spanned two days. The rest of the time allowed cattle to be viewed in pens by stock show visitors. Questions were asked and answered, and a hospitality tent was set up adjacent to the pens, offering hot drinks and snacks to visitors. A special “tent party” was held for exhibitors following the Friday show. 

Gary Lake served as ring steward for the halter show, and then ramrodded the cattle movements from pen to pen during the un-haltered show.  Kenny Richardson of Greeley, Colo.,  assumed ring steward  duties for the un-haltered show. Kenny is also current president of Mountains and Plains, and made a point of inviting “everyone from ITLA” to the Mountains and Plains annual banquet Saturday night. 

The National Western Texas Longhorn Show Committee, which consists of equal representation from both affiliates, cordially invites one and all to enter the 2015 show.  Entries are due in November – watch for details later.