Mutton bustin' is consistently one of the biggest draws at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. Photo by Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post.

National Western Stock Show: Ride ’em high, cowboy

Thousands will begin flocking to Denver this week, but not only for a chance to buy legal weed.

The National Western Stock Show kicks off its 108th celebration of bolo ties and bucking broncos on Jan. 11th, an event for which I will be decidedly high. Professional Bull Riding isn’t usually my preferred PBR, but there’s enough to get into at the Stock Show for this stoner to bite. After all, its slogan is “Find Your Western Spirit.”

Here’s where to find me at the Stock Show, which runs through Jan. 26:

Mutton bustin’ (22 shows)
Apparently it’s hard to go to NWSS and not see some mutton get busted, as it’s clearly one of its bread-and-butter events. As a safer, more adorable iteration of bull riding, people can’t get enough of seeing children hold on for dear life as sheep careen out of their miniature chutes. After enjoying a 20-minute YouTube-a-Palooza of these tykes enjoying various degrees of success, I did what any high man would: Googled “adult mutton bustin’”. This is my can’t-miss of the weekend.

Thank a Farmer Magic Show (daily)
A staple of the state-fair circuit, the folks at Thank a Farmer want to bring a little wonder to your day with their ever-popular TAF Magic Show — and they just might learn ya something while they’re at it. Edu-tainment gets a bad wrap, and growers of all kinds can appreciate the hard work that farmers do across the country. Here, using what show creator Rhonda Ross calls “the plate-to-pasture” approach, sleight of hand and juggling are tools to help create a connection between people and their meals. I’m sure I’ll have no clue what’s coming next. Mind = blown.

Turkey legs (where fine BBQ is sold)
While I’ve been told by Karen Woods, the Stock Show’s director of marketing and pr, that their most popular food item is cheeseburgers, how do you not go turkey leg in this scenario? It’s the perfect hand-held fair fare that exists. My love of turkey legs runs so deep, you may have seen me at GABF this year offering booth attendants free one ounce bites. Woods suggests that if you are a fan of the (boring) burger, the best place to snatch one up is the Pepsi Roadhouse on the second floor of the Expo Hall.

An Evening of Dancing Horses (7:30 p.m. Jan. 22-23)
Dressage rose to national prominence as Ann Romney’s horse Rafalca danced at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, with liberals slamming Romney for declaring her horse a “business” that took a significant financial loss. I’m firmly on the other side of this, as horse dancing sounds freaking hilarious and totally worth tens of thousands of dollars. Billed as an event “Designed to thrill even the most discriminating horse enthusiast,” according to their website, I think I’m up to the challenge.

Colorado Fiddle Championships (9 a.m. Jan. 11-12)
If you’re also a huge fan of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” come watch some of the best non-Beelzebub’s in the state in the Colorado Fiddle Championships. Sponsored by the — I kid you not — Colorado Old Time Fiddlers’ Association, the 12th annual event pays out an insane $1,500 to the grand champion of Texas-style fiddlin’. I didn’t understand much of their rules section, but the portion about threatening or harassing a judge had me rolling. For a guy who isn’t big on “country” or “western,” this should be a nice respite for my ears.

Smoking pot (not on the premises)
Make sure to “pause for the cause” before hitting the grounds, as there is no consumption of pot allowed on site. “We have the same public policy procedures as any of the city venues do,” said Woods. “There’s no smoking marijuana in public.” Unfortunately for many out-of-towners, there are few options as to where they can legally fire up.

National Western Stock Show runs Jan. 11-26 at the National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt St. in Denver. Tickets available via