History Highlights of the Westernaires at National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, part 2 of 3

(continued from part 1)


1956: Westernaires celebrate National Western's 50th anniversary with their "Golden Sidesaddle Review" act

The Westernaires have obtained sidesaddles from many states. They were found in haylofts, attics, etc., and most of them required major reconditioning or rebuilding.
— Elmer E. Wyland, Director of Westernaires

The Golden Sidesaddle Review act featured Nancy Knoyer (now Shaughnessy) on her beautiful white horse, "Pal".  Pal would perform a graceful bow to the audience at the end of the act.

The feature of the Golden Sidesaddle Review act was a salute to the "surrey with the fringe on top".

January of 1956 brought a grand 50th Anniversary celebration of the National Western Stock Show.

To celebrate National Western Stock Show's Golden Anniversary in 1956 (the NWSS 50th anniversary), Westernaires created a Golden Sidesaddle Review act, also known as the Gay Nineties Review.  The Sidesaddle Review team was comprised of 16 of the best female Westernaire riders. 

Their stately drill ended with a salute to the surrey with the fringe on top -- a nod to yesteryear.  The Westernaires surrey circled the arena at the end of the drill, pulled by philanthropist John Eastman's horse, Golden Surveyor.  The Golden Sidesaddle Review was the first of a few Westernaire drill teams that went on to use sidesaddles in their precision drills.

In 1955, when the National Western asked us to produce a side saddle drill, they wanted us to costume the girls in dresses as worn 50 years before and advertised in their first show program by the Denver Dry Goods Company.  The National Western would pay for the material if we would cut and sew the dresses — thus the club started an owned wardrobe.
— Elmer E. Wyland, Director of Westernaires

Ladies of the Westernaires' Golden Sidesaddle Review reveal the fabric underneath their riding habit costume that would glow under the arena's black lights.

The riders' black wool costumes were reminiscent of 1906-era riding habits, but the under-lining of their riding skirts revealed fluorescent-colored fabric that would glow under black light.  The intention was to juxtapose the vintage (sidesaddle riding habit) with the cutting edge (glowing fabrics and black light technology).  It worked; all who saw the act were mightily impressed.  At a particular point in the performance, the riders would fold back their skirts in unison and the black light would illuminate the special fabric.

Westernaire riders prepare themselves in the barn at National Western Stock Show in 1956.  Performing first in the rodeo's Grand Entry, many of them would perform again in the Golden Sidesaddle Review act.  The Westernaires Cavalry team also performed in select rodeos of the 1956 National Western.

From left to right: Jean Crabbe, Marlene Scobey, Sharon Offeneer, Judy Barkley, Jimmy Lou Alford, Sharon Stoll, Linda Arnold.

Marlene Scobey on "Queenie", the First Lady of the Golden Girls Sidesaddle Review.  Marlene was the first rider in Westernaires to earn the officer rank of Major.

The announcer's script read during the 1956 performance of the Golden Sidesaddle Review act.

Westernaires continued to perform their Grand Entry, red drill, and other select acts annually at the National Western Stock Show.  "During the National Western Stock Show last January, four Westernaire teams put on 43 performances," said Wyland in July 1959's Western Horseman magazine article.


1958 – Westernaires Introduces their Liberty act to the crowds of National Western Stock Show

The Westernaires Liberty act, which involves riders directing their horses without the use of saddles nor bridles, was born in the mid-1950s.  It debuted at the National Western Stock Show in 1958 to the great delight of audiences.  The daring jumps, the flowing costumes, and the synergy between horse and rider continue to make the Liberty act a fan favorite.


1961 – Westernaires celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Denver Union Stockyards

Patty Hinshaw on "Apache" the trick horse, celebrating the Denver Union Stockyards' 75th anniversary. 

The Denver Union Stockyards celebrated its 75th anniversary at the 1961 National Western Stock Show.  

From the 1961 National Western Stock Show program, an aerial map of the Denver Union Stockyards as they looked in 1961.

The Denver Union Stockyards Company played a critical part in the growth of the city of Denver at the turn of the 20th century.  Close to the turn of the 20th century, Denver's regional ranchers and stockmen sought to bring ranchers together to show their animals and to buy and sell breeding stock -- the Denver Union Stockyards were the logical for such an annual event.  By having it in January, it would fit nicely between the harvest season and the Spring's calving season.  The National Western was born!

The Denver Union Stockyards eventually shuttered as an organization in the mid-1960s, when Denver’s packinghouses moved away and business in the once-bustling yards slowed.  National Western purchased the real estate, including the vast stockyards and the magnificent brick Stock Exchange building.  Both of these remain today, and are beautiful examples of historic real estate that is still quite functional. 

For more information about the Denver Union Stockyards, click here and click here to see two excellent accounts of its fascinating history.

The Westernaires American Flag riders "post the colors Western style", 1961.

The Westernaires Grand Entry team dashes into the Coliseum at the 1961 National Western Stock Show.

The Westernaires "Propeller" maneuver spins at speed at the 1961 National Western Stock Show.

Westernaires founder and Director, Elmer E. Wyland, stands with the lined-up Grand Entry riders in the paddock of the 1961 National Western Stock Show.  Jody Williford is on the far right.

Patty Hinshaw and "Apache" the trick horse walk up the center of the arena as the Westernaires Grand Entry riders do-si-do around them.

Jody Williford and Peggy Warren lead the team out of the arena, 1961.

The Westernaires of Lakewood, the Rockettes of the show, perform precision riding with massed riders breaking off singly and in pairs to whirl like Catherine wheels, massing and breaking for strikingly difficult maneuvers like the light horse Cavalry.
— Allen Young, in Cervi's Journal, January 18, 1961

I would say this on nationwide television or radio, I think Westernaires is the greatest riding group I have ever seen in all my experience; and I’ve worked riding groups all over the world.
— Cy Taillon, PRCA Hall of Fame Master of Ceremonies and Rodeo Announcer, in 1976

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