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Livestock

Locals Enjoy Wyoming Day 2013 at the National Western Stock Show

Denver, Colo. – The annual Wyoming Day took place on Jan. 26 during the National Western Stock Show as a large group of Wyomingites, including Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and his family and over 20 state legislators, participated in the Wyoming Stock Growers Association’s (WSGA) organized bus trip south. 

Celebrating heritage

The WSGA generated such a large interest in the Wyoming Day 2013 trip that it had to hire two motor coaches instead of the usual one, as 80 gathered in Cheyenne for the trip to the National Western Stock Show complex. Additionally, 35 others met them there for a day of festivities. 

Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the WSGA, commented, “We got a number of new legislators this year more than typically. They’re interested in this, but also we actually had it on the legislative calendar this year which we haven’t in the past.” 

Magagna said state legislators had the chance to make plans to go on the trip rather than go home this weekend from their legislative duties. 

Governor’s remarks

Before noon, a luncheon was held in the National Western Club in the Expo Hall as the guests dined on chicken picatta, prime rib, brisket and sausages plus all the trimmings. Mead and his family dined with the other Wyomingites. 

After dinner, he spoke on what Wyoming Day means to him, saying, “It’s a great day. One – because we get to have this fun event. Two, and most importantly, you get to see so many Wyoming friends down here, members of the legislature. And every year coming down here, it’s a packed house – and of course the western heritage and the rodeo. That’s part and parcel of what we do in Wyoming.” 

The governor was also showcased during the matinee rodeo honoring the state of Wyoming at the nearby Denver Coliseum. The event saw one of the horseback-riding flag bearers, Miss Rodeo Wyoming, Holly Kennedy, carrying the state’s flag into the arena before the National Anthem was sung. Mead and other Wyoming dignitaries took a stagecoach ride around the coliseum during the middle of the rodeo events, which included bareback riding, steer wrestling and bull riding. 

Hay production was sharply down due to last year’s drought, which made the hay available considerably more expensive. Ranchers sent their cattle prematurely to slaughter due to the weather and hay conditions. Mead cited that challenges are nothing new for Wyoming’s ag. 

“When you talk about ag, you have to talk about grit, you have to talk about the word perseverance, and I think that represents the people in ag. They are able to weather some tough times, and we see that now,” he said. 

Attendees express what Wyoming Day means to them

During the bus trip to Denver as well as the luncheon, various attendees of the Wyoming Day festivities were asked what the trip to Denver meant to them.  

Loretta Davis of Torrington commented, “This is quite an adventure because I have never been to the stock show before. I have heard people talk about how big it is and the different things to see, and I am interested in the dog trials and rodeo, the vendors and all of those things.”  

Jim Magagna of Cheyenne said he comes for a couple of reasons. 

“For one thing, it’s a reminder that the type of acts that take place at the National Western – the rodeo in particular – the showing of animals and that.  It’s a show for people that came to the National Western but in reality, it’s a way of life for ranchers and the West including in Wyoming,” he said.

“So we really appreciate the fact that we have one day we can celebrate the role that Wyoming plays in the history of the rodeo, the history of livestock breeding and ranching in the West,” Magagna continued. “When times are tough, you need to find a day now and then that you just put that behind you and recognize and celebrate what’s important and do things with your family and do activities you enjoy such as rodeos so in that sense it’s far more important in a tough year than it is in a good year.”

Eli Bebout of Riverton remarked, “It’s a wonderful thing we do.  Of course, the National Western is, for a lot of reasons, an opportunity for a lot of people in the ag business to get together and go down there.  There’s a 4-H component.  There’s a rodeo component.  The neat thing about it is the Wyoming Stock Growers put together this outing, and we get together to visit all of us in the ag community and others that are not in it but understand the importance of it to Wyoming and the West.  I really think it’s a good deal.” 

Roy A. Barnes is a freelance writer who resides in Cheyenne.  He’s covered Wyoming Day for the WSGA since 2009.