Casinos all over town are gearing up for the NFR crowd, which will hurd into the city starting Friday and continuing for 10 days.
Casino operators are excited, especially because the rodeo crowd has traditionally been good casino customers.
“We’re happy to have them back,” said one Strip casino manager. “These folks like to play the games and they’re not shy about spreading the money around.”
For the last 16 years, the National Finals Rodeo has
provided excitement for Las Vegas audiences in 8-second bursts. During this rip
roarin’ time it’s hip-huggin’ jeans, snakeskin boots and Stetson hats as
cowboys and cowgirls from across North America invade Las Vegas for what is
sometimes called the “Superbowl of Rodeos.” The NFR takes place at the
Thomas & Mack Center 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. The top 15 in each event
will compete for more than $3 million in prize money. Last year over 150,000
people attended the NFR, and more than 13 million viewers tuned in for all 10
rounds of the Finals broadcast on ESPN.
Contributing to the rodeo atmosphere are the Las Vegas
casinos, which typically transform themselves into country and western halls:
country music is piped into the casinos, cocktail waitresses and other hotel
workers don western wear, and top name country talent fills the showrooms. Among
the latter are Tanya Tucker (The Orleans), Brooks & Dunn (Las Vegas Hilton),
Ricky and the Redstreaks (Stardust), Clint Black (Paris Las Vegas), Lorrie
Morgan (The Orleans), Mark Chesnutt and Aaron Tippin (Aladdin), and Chris Le
Enhancing the excitement of the rodeo is the annual Cowboy
Christmas Gift Show, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Dec. 6-15 at the
Las Vegas Convention Center. More than 400 exhibitors will offer a variety of
merchandise including leather products, trucks, Western wear, jewelry and NFR
souvenirs. The event also showcases hundreds of Western artists, craftsmen and
Western dealers from around the country.