Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Fun Times at the NFR - Even Without Rodeo Tickets

Wrangler Rodeo Arena
Wrangler National Finals Rodeo tickets are tough to come by. The event has been sold out for the last 26 years and they've been adding to a waitlist since 1987. You get the idea.

You can find seats through the official ticket exchange, but this will set you back a respectable amount of pocket change. Last I checked, tickets for Saturday's final performance were running anywhere from $156 to $1500 a seat. A little too rich for my blood but that doesn't stop us from having a great time in Vegas during rodeo week.

To begin with, it's Las Vegas. A town that never sleeps and boasts stunning golf courses, world class dining, and all of the dazzling lights anyone could desire. If you prefer something a little more quiet, there are the breathtaking vistas of Red Rock Canyon and Spring Mountain Ranch just a short drive from the Strip. We love to pack a lunch and spend the day driving out in the desert, ending the day with the sunset in Death Valley. If you are into photography there are some great spots to catch some fiery images.

Spring Mountain Ranch
Now back to the rodeo, just because you don't have a ticket doesn't mean you can't enjoy the competition. Several hotels run Beyond the Dirt, the satellite feed of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in their bars and sports books. We like the Golden Nugget downtown where they show the rodeo on five big screens in one of their showrooms. The crowd gets going and cheers along. It really is the next best thing to being there.


And the fun doesn't end with the final 8-second ride. No, there are plenty of after parties and great country entertainers in town during the ten-day event. The week kicked off with the Downtown Hoedown, a free party on Freemont Street complete with three stages and six country acts.

Chase Bryant rocks the Downtown Hoedown
Later in the week saw Tanya Tucker, Big and Rich, Trace Adkins, and Terri Clark at the Golden Nugget (very nice to walk from one showroom to the other with your adult slushies) plus Reba, Brooks and Dunn at Ceasars. It really is like Christmas for country fans this week!

Alberta's own Terri Clark
Speaking of Christmas, you can celebrate Cowboy Christmas every day in the South Hall of the Convention Centre. A showcase of 400 plus vendors from the U.S. and Canada selling boots, spurs, western wear, custom jewelry and much more. There are also autograph sessions with rodeo contestants as well as Flint Rasmussen's Outside the Barrel where he interviews a variety of guests through the ten days. This year he even hosted Mr. Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton!

Upstairs from Cowboy Christmas is the Wrangler Rodeo Arena where we enjoyed seeing rodeo's next generation compete in Mini-Bucking Bulls, Wild Pony Races, and the Mini Bareback Championship, to name but a few. These events are free and a good chance for families to take in some rodeo. Kids like to watch someone their own age compete and, who knows, your youngster might be inspired to try their own hand at tie-down roping.

Mini-Bucking Bulls
In addition to the arena, the second floor hosts the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Hunter & Outdoor Christmas Expo. Here you can meet outdoor celebrities and attend free hunting seminars while browsing booths holding the latest hunting gear, western art and decor and a lot more. I found some great solar chargers to keep our phones and tablets in shape during camping season. Definitely, lots to see and do.

So, as a rodeo fan would I love to be in the arena, cheering on my favourite Canadian cowboy or cowgirl? Absolutely! Will not having a ticket stop me from coming back to rodeo week in Vegas? Never!