Time to rustle up some NFR food, fun

Nov 28, 2000 8:11 AM

Glitzy Las Vegas taps into its frontier heritage as the town celebrates the National Finals Rodeo (NFR), Dec. 1-10, at the Thomas & Mack.

Over the next 10 days, the Las Vegas landscape will be dotted with hip-huggin’ jeans, snakeskin boots and Stetson hats as cowboys and cowgirls from across North America invade town for the annual National Finals.

Often called the "Superbowl of Rodeos," the NFR takes place at the T&M on the campus of UNLV. Throughout the year, members of the Professional Cowboy’s Rodeo Association (PRCA) sought to qualify among the top 15 finishers in each of seven rodeo events: saddle bronc riding, bull riding, bareback riding, calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing.

Contributing to the rodeo atmosphere are the Las Vegas casinos, which transform themselves into country and western halls. Country music is piped into the casinos. Cocktail waitresses and other hotel workers don western wear. Top name country talent fills the showrooms.

Among the country headliners are Tanya Tucker (The Orleans), Brooks & Dunn (Las Vegas Hilton), Toby Keith (Boulder Station), Ricky & the Redstreaks (Stardust), Los Lobos (Mandalay Bay), John Cafferty (Sunset Station), and Clint Black (Hilton).

You can catch a lot of free country music at the Fremont Street Experience, beginning Thursday. The Downtown Hoedown will be presented on Fremont’s alternating stages: Chely Wright performs at 6 p.m. on the First Street Stage. Eric Heatherly plays at 6 p.m. on the Third Street Stage. Brad Paisley is featured at 9 p.m. on the First Street Stage. Terri Clark is slated at 9 p.m. on the Third Street Stage.

You’ll also find many promotions and specials, especially at the locals casinos. At Boulder Station, for instance, rodeo fans can watch the action every night via closed circuit TV while draining $2 bottles of Budweiser Longnecks.

If that’s enough action to work up a chuckwagon appetite, Boulder’s Iron Horse Café has a 16-ounce T-bone and Budweiser special for $9.99, available 24 hours throughout the NFR.

If you have a partner, check out Boulder’s Feast Buffet, where two can eat for the price of one when they present their NFR ticket stubs to the cashier on the day of the events.

Another good spot to enjoy NFR is at the Sahara, which will offer free shuttle transportation to the T&M. In addition, its Casbar lounge will feature special NFR entertainment nightly. The Carzilla Bar at the NASCAR Café will feature an "Endless Happy Hour": two-for-one draught beer, well drinks and appetizers beginning at 10 a.m. daily.

Also at the Sahara, crooning cowboys can sing their favorite ballads with DJ Kevin Cordoba’s Cowboy Karaoke, daily from 9 p.m. until closing.

With its ongoing Wild West motif, Silverton Hotel will be a hot spot for NFR activities. On Saturday, Dec. 9, TNN personality Pam Minick will host Lunch With Rodeo Legends. A former Miss Rodeo America and World Champion Woman’s Calf Roper, Minick was inducted this year into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame.

Scheduled to participate in the luncheon are Larry Mahan, six time World Champion All Around Cowboy; Charmayne James, 10-time World Champion Barrel Racer; Walt Garrison, former Dallas Cowboys football player and rodeo champ; tuff Hedeman, four time World Champion bull rider; Cody Custer, World Champion Bull Rider; Jim Shoulders, 16-time World Champion rodeo star; and Sherri Cervi, World Champion Barrel Racer.