Friday, December 7, 2007

Well Buck My Bronco

Events For You, Buckaroo
A quarter century ago the weeks preceding Christmas were pretty quiet round about the Valley of the Dollars. Showrooms were dark. Entertainers left town to be with their families, and folks who would mosey on down to the casino any other time of the year would stay home or go somewhere else. Then some dude who probably drove a pick-em up truck got an idea how to change all that. A delegation from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority ambled on down to the headquarters of the National Finals Rodeo (NFR), sashayed into the offices and sat a spell with the head honchos of the NFR. Those dudes had a problem - the annual Rodeo Finale was getting too big for its Oklahoma britches. Brahmas and little dogies needed more room, not to mention the crowd that had to be shoehorned into the arena.
When they left the headquarters, the hindquarters of all the participants - cowboys, cattle, and conventioneers had a 10-year deal to saddle up their ponies in Las Vegas. The deal has been extended and for the past 23 years what had been nigh a ghost town in December saw thousands of people and millions of dollars pour into the winter economy.
The rodeo crowd is a great one. Cowboys have this way of talking straight. No fancy jawing or whistling Dixie, they say what they mean and mean what they say. And lots of those buckaroos and buckarettes who come to watch the Rodeo Finals sit high on their wallets. If you think bluejeans and shirts that snap are low-end clothing, you have not seen the outfits at the NFR. The past 22 years of hosting the event has brought an estimated $ 650 million to local coffers. Not too shabby for two weeks that used to be as lively as a graveyard on New Years morning.
The town changes its outfit for the rodeofiles just as quickly and completely as the Convention Center changes its motif for each convention. The main venue is where UNLV basketball plays its home games, which are, of course, never played during these two weeks. Hotels bring in entertainment that is far less hip-hop and lots more country and western. Mechanical bulls are brought into bars. There is even a Cowboy Christmas Show that is sort of like a swap meet but with nearly all products having a cowboy theme - hat blockers, boot shiners, western clothing and art for sale, etc. The entire ambiance of what is glitter and tinsel based for 50 weeks out of the year brings Las Vegas back to its old time western roots.
Participants vie for cash prizes in the tens of thousands of dollars. The entire rodeo is worth $ 5.5 million, and that ain't hay. So if you mosey on up to Las Vegas this week don't fret if all you see are big ole belt buckles, jeans, and rhinestone-studded denim jackets. Pardner, this is the 2007 National Finals Rodeo. How about a little blogging music maestro-dude.... do ya' know "Don't Fence Me In?"
Dr. Forgot

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