By Kelly Werthmann

DENVER (CBS4) – The 112th National Western Stock Show kicked off with a parade and cattle drive through downtown Denver.

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The annual parade began at noon Thursday at Union Station and moved down 17th Street. It featured over 40 Longhorn cattle, tractors, marching bands and floats.

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“I think we had more than 30,000 people at the parade,” Paul Andrews, President & CEO of the National Western Stock Show, said. “I believe that’s the biggest parade of all time. We just can’t wait to get started this Saturday.”

 

The event really kicks into high gear this weekend.

The stock show includes ranch rodeo, championship fiddle competitions, bull riding, family-fun dog shows, a Western Art gallery, petting zoo and 20 acres of shopping and food.

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“There are a few new exhibits this year,” Andrews told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “We have a dairy discovery zone this year where kids can come see exactly how that milk gets from the cow over into your King Soopers.”

Livestock are still being prepped for what’s considered the “Super Bowl of stock shows,” Andrews explained. Families from nearly all 50 states are gearing up for more than just western entertainment.

(credit: CBS)

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“This is pretty much business,” Jonny Parkinson, a rancher with Lawrence Family Limousin of Anton, Texas, said. “It’s kind of an advertising so people will buy our product.”

Parkinson’s son Tucker, 10, is among the junior competitors who will show their cattle during the 16-day event.

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“We try to set them up in the right spot to make the judge think our cows look good,” Tucker said.

In just two days, the big event will begin at the National Western Complex, and Andrews encourages anyone and everyone to come down.

“Whether you’re a little kid or you’re an adult that’s 90 years old,” he said, “There is something for you here at the National Western.”

(credit: CBS)

Also new this year, free parking and 1,000 new parking spots. Andrews said most of those lots are located on the vacant land where development is waiting to be torn down.

The big event runs Jan. 6 through Jan. 21.

LINK: nationalwestern.com

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Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.