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Las Vegas: Time to get your inner cowboy on at the rodeo finals

November 26, 2012|By Jay Jones
  • Luke Branquinho of Los Alamos, Calif., will try to become the first steer wrestler in more than 20 years to win back-to-back world championships at the $6.13 million Wrangler National Finals Rodeo being held from Dec. 6-15 in Las Vegas. Branquinho won the gold buckle a year ago by winning the WNFR aggregate title and finishing with $234,518 in earnings for the season.
Luke Branquinho of Los Alamos, Calif., will try to become the first steer… (Tom Donoghue / PRCA ProRodeo…)

Visitors to Las Vegas in December had better pack their jeans, cowboy hats and boots or prepare to look out of place. The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, one of Sin City’s biggest annual events, will lure tens of thousands of cowboys and their fans to the Thomas & Mack Center from Dec. 6-15 for the granddaddy of professional rodeo competitions.

Cowboy mania spreads throughout the town. Expect to find cocktail waitresses in western garb and country music bands in various lounges.

During the finals, no one gets gussied up bigger or better than downtown Las Vegas. The Fremont Street Experience kicks off nearly two weeks of partying with its Downtown Hoedown on Dec. 5.

Beginning at 4:30 p.m., a variety of country music talents, including Uncle Kracker, Jana Kramer, Dustin Lynch and Clay Walker, will take to three stages to get everyone in the mood for some two-stepping.

The music and fun continue throughout the rodeo. Beginning Dec. 6, the Fremont Street Experience’s 12 Days of Country will feature themed performances each evening under the Viva Vision canopy. And the Golden Nugget, downtown’s premiere hotel, will host a series of country concerts featuring acts such as Merle Haggard, the Charlie Daniels Band and Randy Travis.

Over at the arena, there’s nonstop rodeo action from morning to night as hundreds of North America’s finest cowboys compete in various events, hoping to attain the coveted title of World Champion. Unlike other sports, professional cowboys aren’t paid a salary and they’re required to pay their own entry fees as well as their travel expenses. For the cream of the crop, there’s some decent money to be won. Last year’s nine World Champions had earnings of about $97,000 to $320,000, according to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Assn. 

The association’s website has full details about this year’s finals.

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