History Highlights of the Westernaires at National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, part 1 of 3
The first National Western Stock Show occurred in January of 1906. While some may claim to be bigger or better, none can match the excitement and excellence of the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, held every January in Denver, Colorado. Cowboys, ranchers, wholesalers, breeders, and exhibitors from all over North America flock to Denver just after the holiday season for two weeks of wheeling and dealing, competing and celebrating. From beginning to end, it is the most riveting show in town.
One of the major events on the Westernaires yearly calendar is the National Western Stock Show, where they perform both the Grand Entry and a feature drill in each rodeo performance for the duration of the show. Excused from local schools for the run of the rodeo, Westernaires riders study between performances to maintain good grades. Ask any Westernaires Varsity Red Team alumnus and they'll tell you that it's an unforgettable experience to participate in the headlining act of this remarkable show.
National Western Stock Show is also a graduation for some of the Westernaires Varsity Big Red Team riders. Those who have graduated from local high schools the past June have the option of remaining in the organization through this amazing event. The final Ride of the Colors and Pass in Review at the closing of National Western marks the end of their career as Varsity riders. It is an emotional farewell.
History Highlights of the Westernaires at National Western Stock Show & Rodeo
1952: Westernaires make their first appearance at NWSS
In 1952, Westernaires were still sometimes referred to as the "Paul Gregg Pony Club". It was right about then that Elmer E. Wyland, Founder of Westernaires, was settling on the new name of "Westernaires".
1952 was also the inaugural year for the new Denver Coliseum building, where the National Western Stock Show's rodeo is held.
After a successful 1952 performance, the Westernaires were invited back for repeated performances at the National Western Stock Show in 1953. In 1954, Westernaires were asked to become a headline act; they accepted so with great pleasure.
1955: The Westernaires receive a commission for a special act from the National Western Stock Show
By 1955, the Westernaires were making numerous appearances in National Western's rodeos (seven in 1955). After a very successful four years of performing at their prestigious events, National Western's new General Manager, Willard Simms, asked the Westernaires to come up with a special act to commemorate the National Western's upcoming 50th Anniversary. Ever the showman, Westernaires Director Elmer Wyland was up to the task.
Wyland's idea was to create an act that paid homage to the era in which National Western Stock Show was started (1906), while also giving a nod to the future. He put out a call to his vast network of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances that the Westernaires was looking for sidesaddles for a new act in development.
An unexpected outcome came from his request for sidesaddles. Not only did people find their grandmothers' dusty old sidesaddles in their barns, but they also found antique McClellan Cavalry saddles, old bits, rare tack, and historic driving harnesses too. Mr. Wyland received a deluge of antique equipment -- some of it from the far reaches of the globe. With this, he formed an outfitted a complete Westernaires Cavalry team, and also created an award-winning Westernaires Museum of Riding and Driving History.