Whether a first-timer or a seasoned pro, most patrons saddling up to work and play on the opening day of the National Western Stock Show, Rodeo & Horse Show showed up with bells and boots on.

Five-year-old Lileigh Gilbert sported a hot pink, tiara-topped cowboy hat Saturday morning and sugar-dusted cheeks as she stood inside a concession area at the stock show.

"Eww," Lileigh said after her initial bite of a fried Twinkie. "Wait. Yum."

The sweet treat was one of myriad firsts during the Denver girl's introduction to the National Western.

"It's fun," said mom Jessica Gilbert. "We're just getting started."

The family was looking forward to making memories and checking out the rodeo.

One thousand business leaders gather at the National Western Stock Show for the 22nd annual Boots-n-Business luncheon, Jan. 8, 2016. The leaders spoke about the impact of the approval of 2C to revitalize the National Western Stock Show complex. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)

Isaiah Beck, 6, is more of a stock show pro.

The Arvada boy has spent most of his young existence longing for the cowboy life.

Isaiah woke up extra early on Saturday, said dad Steven Beck, and donned full cowboy attire.

"My favorite thing about the stock show is just about everything," Isaiah said.

Beck has been hauling his son to the National Western for the past four years, so they could enjoy the food, the festivities and the family time.

"It's become a tradition for us," Beck said, as the pair waited for the rodeo to begin in the Denver Coliseum.

In another arena, some polished and preened heifers before their hopeful handlers showed off to a panel of judges.

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Sara Eeg of Greenbush, Minn., was snapping photos of her daughter Marin who was showing a red angus heifer.

"We're pretty new at it," Eeg said. "I'm probably more nervous than she is."

Marin, who got her start in 4H, took first in her class and was named the grand champion in her division.

After the show, the Eeg family was looking forward to exploring what the rest of the stock show had to offer.

Nearby, crowds of children flocked inside a white tent to watch a llama, donkey, miniature horse, baby goat and pig do tricks and eat treats.

"I liked when the little goat figured out a way to climb up on the donkey," said A.J. Gibson, 7. "That's why the stock show is cool. There are so many animals, and it's amazing."

Elizabeth Hernandez: 303-954-1223, ehernandez@ or @ehernandez

Browse photography at Denver.Gallery.