Roping up fun and Western spirit

Big crowd turns out for CU Night at the Stock Show

January 26, 2015

Ralphie, the CU-Boulder mascot, and her fleet-footed handlers run across the Denver Coliseum to open the rodeo events at CU Night at the Stock Show on Friday. Photos by Chris Casey.

Sitting next to Milo the Lynx on the back of a stage coach, CU Denver student Derrick Gallegos found himself under the spotlight and circling the arena floor to the raucous cheers of a full house at the Denver Coliseum Friday evening.

Gallegos was part of a team of volunteers who set out black-and-gold pom poms on Coliseum seats before the lights went down and the pyrotechnics and Western-flavored hurly-burly took over. CU Night at the Stock Show got even better for Gallegos when, halfway through the two-hour rodeo, he was invited to ride on the stage coach along with Milo, CU-Boulder mascot Chip, and the handlers of Ralphie, who thundered across the arena floor to get CU Night at the Stock Show off to a rollicking start.

“It was an amazing experience when we were taken out to the middle of the arena and waved around at everyone,” Gallegos said. “It’s always fun to dress up and attend the Stock Show. It’s a completely different culture from walking around campus. I had on some cowboy boots, and it was a blast.”

It was also a blast for the thousands of CU alumni and their families who attended the annual event. As he’s done for the past seven years on CU Night at the Stock Show, CU President Bruce Benson rode at the helm of the lead wagon, the red Stock Show Stage Coach, waving his cowboy hat to the cheers of the crowd. Also aboard the coach were several members of the Board of Regents.

“We’re Westerners—let’s start with that,” Benson said after the stage coach segment. “It’s important that we as the CU community take part in the Stock Show, which shows the Western spirt of Colorado.”

Benson was joined at the rodeo by his wife, Marcy, as well as more than 30 family members and friends. He said the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) is an excellent venue at which to tell the CU story, which goes well beyond the four campuses. “It’s important to tell people what we’re doing around the state,” Benson said. “We’ve got 260 outreach programs and 400 CU-affiliated clinics that advance the economy, health and culture of Colorado.”

Other highlights of the evening included bareback riding, steer wrestling and the always-popular mutton bustin’ event in which young cowpokes ride the backs of feisty sheep.

Amanda Ulrey, executive assistant special projects manager in the University of Colorado Office of the President, said attending CU Night at the Stock Show is a seven-year tradition for her and her friends. “This is a family tradition—the family of CU,” she said. “Coming to the Stock Show is a great way to demonstrate it. Let’s ride and rope broncos every day. We’re in Colorado, after all.”

Gallegos, a student in the CU Denver Business School and a student assistant in the Office of the President, enjoyed the family feeling as well, including having the “awesome fortune” of running into Milo, the relatively new mascot of CU Denver.

“As a CU Denver student I appreciated seeing our campus represented” at the Stock Show, Gallegos said. “It meant a lot having a night dedicated to the school and being able to be there with alumni. It is always powerful to see just how big the CU community is.”

The evening kicked off with the National Anthem performed by CU Denver College of Arts & Media student Andrea Pares. Meanwhile, in the exhibition hall on the other side of the NWSS complex, student volunteers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus provided free health screenings, as they’ve done for the full two weeks of the Stock Show.