Close out the National Western Stock Show with the Annual Steer at The Brown

steer at the brown

The National Western Stock Show kicks off every year with the iconic herding of the longhorn cattle that fill the streets of downtown Denver with the annual kick-off parade – a tradition most mark their calendars for. But you can also celebrate the closing of the National Western Stock Show with just as much pomp and circumstance with the annual Steer at The Brown.

The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, known as Denver’s Grande Dame, will host its 78th Annual “Steer at The Brown” event, upholding a beloved tradition in the Mile High City. 

This event is one of the more elegant, luxurious events associated with the National Western Stock Show. So, for those of us who don’t get our kicks from bull riding or the mutton bustin’, you can feel a part of this Denver tradition by attending the Steer at the Brown. 

steer at the brown
‘Steer at the Brown’ at the Brown Palace Hotel and Spa. Photo by Amanda Bittner.

A Denver tradition

Believe it or not, before Denver exploded with new condo complexes, restaurants at every corner and endless traffic on I-25, it was known as a ‘cow town.’ A celebration of the state’s agriculture, the Stock Show is a tradition that dates back to its first year in 1906. And when the Moffat Tunnel train tunnel was built in 1928, connecting ranchers and cattlemen in Western Colorado to Denver, the Stock Yards in Denver were not only a place to do business but a place to see and be seen. 

Somewhat of a traditionalist itself, the Brown Palace Hotel sits right at the center of some of our favorite time-honored traditions in the Mile High City.

The Brown Palace Hotel is known for its classic afternoon high tea filled with imported cream and handmade tea sandwiches and scones, but one day a year, the star of afternoon high tea isn’t the English Tea, but rather the showcase of the 1,000+ pounds prize-winning steer from the stockyards.

historic photo of steer at the brown
A historic photo of the traditional Steer at the Brown event. Photo provided by The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa.

So how did this tradition start? It all began in 1945 with a man named Daniel I.J. Thornton who sold two bulls that year at the highest amount ever at $50,000 each. Thornton took the opportunity to parade his success through the lobby of one of Denver’s most prestigious hotels – the Brown Palace. And thus the tradition was born.

Viewers will get to see the Grand Prize, champion winning steer of the National Western Stock Show strut down the red carpet into the elegant and iconic Atrium Lobby of the Brown Palace while presiding over the age-old tradition of high tea. After the event, the Grand Champion Steer will head to the Auction of Junior Champions and be sold that evening. A majority of the winning bid price goes directly to the Junior Exhibitor, and 10% of each bid price is donated to support the National Western Scholarship Trust.

Enjoy the last bit of holiday lights and decor

steer at the brown
Champion steer at the center of attention at Steer at the Brown. Photo provided by The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa.

Another long-standing tradition in Denver is to keep your holiday lights and decorations up until the end of the Stock Show. While some of the details around how this came to be a tradition, the custom of keeping your holiday lights up dates back to 1922 when the Denver City and County Building were first decorated in holiday lights.

And the best place to see the holidays still in full swing is at the Brown Palace. Known for its holiday decor and holiday traditions like its annual Champagne Cascade event, the Brown Palace goes all out with a 25×25-foot, two-ton chandelier, 250,000 crystal beads, 60,000+ LED lights, 500 pounds of glitter and 4,800 ornaments. The decorations stay up through the National Western Stock Show on Jan. 21, 2024.

Ticket information

Tickets are required for the 2024 Steer at The Brown Palace event, and all attendees must register and reserve tickets through Eventbrite in advance of the event. General admission tickets are complimentary while the VIP Viewing & Luncheon option is available for $150 and includes a refined barbeque lunch and a signature Pendleton Whiskey cocktail to enjoy. A cash bar will also be available, also featuring Pendleton Whiskey cocktails. VIP Seating will be on the second level, which overlooks the Atrium Lobby.

Event details: 

When: Friday, January 19, 2024 

Time: doors open at 10:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m. the National Western Stock Show’s 2024 Grand Champion Steer makes his entrance

Where: Atrium of The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa (321 17th Street)

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