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Beauty contest for cows, chickens

By Jim Spellman, CNN
updated 10:40 AM EST, Sat January 14, 2012
Every year, cattlemen travel from around the Western United States to Denver for the annual National Western Stock Show. One of the highlights is the cattle show. Because cows enjoy looking at themselves, handlers use mirrors to get them to hold their heads up high. This year, CNN's Jim Spellman got a behind the scenes look at this uniquely American tradition: Every year, cattlemen travel from around the Western United States to Denver for the annual National Western Stock Show. One of the highlights is the cattle show. Because cows enjoy looking at themselves, handlers use mirrors to get them to hold their heads up high. This year, CNN's Jim Spellman got a behind the scenes look at this uniquely American tradition:
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The National Western Stock Show has taken place in Denver for over a century
  • It's part state fair, part rodeo
  • There are beauty contests for livestock, even chickens and roosters

Denver (CNN) -- For 106 years, cowboys and cattlemen have been coming from around the West to Denver for the annual National Western Stock Show. It's part state fair, part rodeo and all American.

At night there is professional rodeo, but during the day hundreds of ranchers of all ages bring their best cows and bulls for judging. On the line is a blue ribbon and bragging rights.

The sprawling backstage area in the bowels of the building echoes with the din of commercial-strength blow dryers as cow after cow is shuttled though the makeshift bovine beauty parlor before being led into the ring.

Upstairs the cowboys and cowgirls mosey around vendors hawking boots, buckles and hats. They mingle with the fleece-clad Denverites and chat amongst themselves about grain prices, drought and yes, Tim Tebow and the Broncos.

The show kicked off last weekend and runs through January 22. Soon enough these cattle herders will be back on their ranches as winter bears down on the West.

But for now it's warm and dry at the stock show, where cows and cowboys alike are the stars of the show.

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