Steamboat Springs The National Western Stock Show still plays an integral role in the lives of a few Routt County residents.
For 20 years, Barry Castagnasso has spent countless hours preparing his stock, leading to an event that bills itself the "Super Bowl of Cattle Shows," Jan. 10 to 27 in Denver. Castagnasso estimated he starts six months before the event at his ranch west of Hayden, getting his Clydesdale stallions and mares fit to show.
But Castagnasso will be the first to point out the fewer and fewer numbers of fellow county residents who show stock alongside him every year.
"People forget that the open landscape surrounding them is a working space and our livelihood - we're working hard when it seems like no one is there," said Castagnasso, who took a young trio of his own locally bred Clydesdale draft horses to the show, placing all three.
Castagnasso had a yearling stallion take second in its class, a 3-year-old mare win its class and a 2-year-old stallion win its class and a reserve grand champion award.
Although Routt County lacked many entrants, the few residents who showed animals walked away with plenty of awards.
In the open breeding sheep show, Steamboat's Rod Wille walked away with a Rambouillet grand champion award for a ram between 1 and 2 years of age.
"The official scorecard is 60 percent body confirmation - it's structural integrity, if it's well balanced and if its muscles are good - and 40 percent wool quality," Wille said.
"It weighs almost 400 pounds."
Wille also took home a grand champion Rambouillet flock award (one ram, two yearling ewes and two ewe lambs) as well as best pair (one ram, one ewe).
"It's our 24th year going," Wille said. "The main reason is that our whole family goes. But it's our marketing tool to sell our sheep and a chance to get out of town for the weekend."
Although Wille looks forward to the workload ahead for his flock's spring lambing and beyond to July's National Rambouillet Show and Sale, Steamboat's Eddie Brenner can look ahead to caring for the calf he earned in the 4-H Catch-A-Calf Contest.
Brenner, a Steamboat Springs High School freshman, secured a calf during the long-running event that occurs during the rodeos.
"There was 12 calves out there : and probably like 30 of us," Brenner said. "They cut the arena in half, the calves are in the bucking chutes, they open 'em up, and we all run at them."
After grabbing a calf by the neck, putting it in a halter and dragging it out of the arena, Brenner earned a calf he'll receive in May to feed out and return to the show next year to be judged as a market steer and sold.
On the junior end of competition, in the Rambouillet ewe lamb show, Taylore Wille took seventh and McCoy residents Belle and Abbey Horn took eighth and ninth place, respectively.
Belle also won her junior class in the sheep lead contest.