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Celebrating 80 Years - Honoring Western Heritage, 1971, Western Stock Show Association

Tags: #Celebrating80Years

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#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and the people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.


Since 1906, the Western Stock Show Association has been a vital contributor to Colorado’s tourism and livestock industries. A nonprofit rich in western heritage and tradition, the Western Stock Show Association strives to further education in agriculture and stages the National Western Stock Show every year. In line with Spencer Penrose’s support of the rodeo industry, El Pomar made its first grant to the Western Stock Show Association in 1971.



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Grantee Spotlight:  Western Stock Show Association

Established in 1906, the Western Stock Show Association (WSSA) aims to provide agricultural education through college and graduate level scholarships for rural area development. For 16 days in Denver each January, WSSA also presents the National Western Stock Show, one of Colorado’s most renowned tourist attractions. With this event, WSSA celebrates western heritage and rural traditions through the annual livestock, horse, and rodeo shows. The event serves several purposes as it not only entertains and informs through rodeo competition, but is also a crucial proponent of the cattle and beef industry. WSSA has seen significant growth over the last 120 years, 12,000 tickets sold for the first show in 1906 and today, more than 650,000 visitors are welcomed each year.

WSSA also awards the annual “Citizen of the West”, in recognition of an individual who “embodies the spirit and determination of the Western pioneer.” In 2003, El Pomar’s Chairman and CEO, William Hybl, was named the 25th Citizen of the West. Other honorees have included William Coors, Vice President Dick Cheney, Sue Anschutz-Rodgers, Philip Anschutz, and 2018 awardee Dr. Tony Frank.

As mentioned above, supporting the promotion of the rodeo tradition was an endeavor familiar to the Penroses, as Spencer Penrose introduced the Will Rogers’ Rodeo (which later became Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo) to Colorado Springs in 1927.  In support of the National Western Stock Show’s growing tourism appeal, El Pomar Foundation honored the Penrose legacy by granting $250,000 to the construction of new buildings in 1971.


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El Pomar in 1971:

After granting an unprecedented $6.2 million in 1969, the Foundation provided a more modest $1.4 million in grant funding to 16 organizations in 1970. Significant grants were awarded to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Western Stock Show Association, Penrose Hospital, Colorado College, Pikes Peak United Way, and the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. While most of the organizations were long-time grantees of El Pomar, the Foundation also provided small first-time grants to Women Partnering and Colorado Safety Association.




Images courtesy of National Western Stock Show Volunteer Photographers

Spotlight by Corey Baron