Cowboying It Up The Creek

City meets country. Mile High urban Cherry Creek construction chaos combines forces with cowboys as the 112th National Western Stock Show kicks off the New Year Jan. 6-21. Whether we want to acknowledge it, Denver is turning a cold shoulder on the Valley’s country heritage as the cowboy theme is too cliché for today’s city slicker.

The environment is no longer rough, wild and open. Like riding bulls at this year’s National Western rodeo, Denver’s surreal bull market tends to put cowboys down.

Here are our warm-up choices for shopping, dining and entertainment to step back in time and cowboy it up in boots, chaps and cowboy hats for a hearty good time:

3 Steer your steed to the Western American Art Symposium in the DAM’s Lewis Sharp Auditorium Jan. 4, 10 a.m. Focus is on regionalism and its impact on artists working in the West. Information: 720-913-0130.

3 Watch a cattle drive with horses, cattle, cowboys-gals, tractors and bands at the stock show parade Jan. 4 at 12 p.m. Information: 303-892-1505.

3 For fast, funny entertainment herd the gang over to Lowry’s John Hand Theatre to see Rumors playing Jan. 6-Feb. 3. Information: 720-530-4596.

3 See a wide range of hunting, fishing and camping gear at the Sportsmen’s Expo at the Convention Center Jan. 11-14. Information: 800-454-6100.

3 So you’ve found the perfect bunkhouse (home) in the perfect cow pasture (locality). Now it’s time to be the tall hog at the trough with the perfect mortgage from Stone Creek Mortgage. Information: 303-573-1200.

3 Lookin’ for good grub at a spot where you can sit a spell and chew the fat? With yummy Italian concoctions and cowboy cocktails Viale Pizza & Kitchen is a tasty cinch on Colorado Blvd. Information: 303-495-3065.

3 Lasso time to see Mary Louise Lee playing Billie Holiday once more at Aurora’s Vintage Theatre, Jan. 12-Feb. 18. Information: 303-856-7830.

3 Catch the Nashville music group Banditos playing backwoods bluegrass, doo-wop and soul at the Larimer Lounge, 8 p.m. Information: 303-291-1007.

3 For a whopping good time get eye to eye with a steer that weighs more than your car at the Stock Show & Rodeo at the National Western Complex, Jan. 6-21. Watch sheep dogs herd their fluffy friends and be dazzled by trick roping. Rodeos are held each day with pro riders, ropers and a slew of animals strutting their stuff. For kids there’s a Stick Horse Rodeo and Farmyard Follies. Information: 303-893-1505.

In popular usage “cowboying it up” is derived from rodeo, and is the phrase used to tell a participant to mount a bull or a horse depending on the event. It is akin to telling runners in a track meet to take their marks and set. Today cowboy up in Denver applies to apartment towers that have kicked living up a notch, not living space above the barn.

Reckon most country folks would dub Denver’s urban living as “WAAAY UP.” Granted reclaimed lumber from developments in town makes building barns cut-rate.

So much for tall in the saddle! Next up are more lofty buildings in what was once cow pasture. Besides the issue of a place to park horses, the meadow is soiled. That’s why some call Denver’s cowboy city planners deranged. Wishing you a fun-filled ride into the New Year. Just remember if you wear cowboy clothes you are “ranch dressing.”

— Glen Richardson

The Valley Gadfly can be reached at

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