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