Quite the Experience

The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo’s “NFR Experience” just got better.

If there weren’t enough activities and events to keep fans attending the 10-day “Super Bowl of Rodeo” occupied Dec. 6-15, now there’s more. Las Vegas Events, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s partner in conducting and producing the Wrangler NFR, has announced the creation of Cowboy FanFest, an interactive area located adjacent to the Cowboy Christmas Gift Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Rodeo fans can spend even more time at Cowboy Christmas thanks to FanFest, which will include a number of areas that will be fun for all. Whether it’s hearing some great country music, sampling some Western-themed food and drinks, letting kids try their hand at mutton bustin’ or spending some quality time with Miss Rodeo America, FanFest will provide yet more entertainment options for Wrangler NFR fans in Las Vegas.

Everyone involved in the production of the $6.125 million rodeo is excited about FanFest.

“Our goal each year is to grow the NFR experience, and FanFest is being created with this in mind,” said Pat Christenson, president of Las Vegas Events. “FanFest will provide an interactive environment, allowing fans the opportunity to touch and experience rodeo at its best.  Fans can now shop in the world’s greatest Western retail area at the Cowboy Christmas Gift Show and enjoy a fully interactive area that brings rodeo and entertainment to life.”

The Commish is also happy about the new addition.

“The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association is thrilled that our partners at Las Vegas Events are providing another place for ProRodeo fans to connect while attending the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo,” said PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman. “We want our fans to have the ultimate rodeo experience while staying in Las Vegas attending our Super Bowl, and Cowboy FanFest will help give fans that opportunity.”

Up-and-coming artists hand-picked by the Academy of Country Music will perform at “Rodeo Live,” a full-stage area in FanFest that will also feature specialty entertainment, special appearances and a battle of the bands competition. Fans can also treat themselves to some quality grub and libations at “Rodeo Round-Up” and “A Taste of Rodeo,” where themed food and specialty drinks will be available.

“The Academy has a rich history of bringing new acts in country music to the fans at the NFR, and we’re thrilled to support Cowboy FanFest in this inaugural year,” said Bob Romeo, CEO of the Academy of Country   Music.

Rodeo exhibitions, mutton bustin’, Rodeo 101 clinics and appearances by specialty acts will highlight the “Rodeo Arena” part of FanFest. Fans will be able to experience rodeo on a deeper level and even participate in some of the action.

When the dust settles from that, fans can check out “The Rodeo Way,” an Old West setting featuring the “Best of Rodeos,” Miss Rodeo America and ProRodeo Hall of Fame exhibits.

Thousands of rodeo fans file into the Las Vegas Convention Center each year for Cowboy Christmas. This December, they can also go there to check out Cowboy FanFest.

Organizers of the Wrangler NFR have long been dedicated to making the fan experience a wonderful one, and the creation of FanFest is just another step in that direction. If rodeo fans can’t find enough Western-themed activities to keep themselves occupied before each night’s performance, well, then they just aren’t trying hard enough.

The creation of FanFest isn’t a last-ditch effort to bring fans closer to the sport and the Wrangler NFR, it’s a calculated enhancement in the evolution of the event that will greatly benefit fans of all ages. FanFest already boasts an impressive array of sponsors that includes the Academy of Country Music, Cox Communications, Priefert, PrimeSport and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and there will surely be more to come.

FanFest will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. – the same hours as Cowboy Christmas – so fans will have plenty of time to check out everything at the Las VegasConvention Center. More than 2.88 million people have attended Cowboy Christmas during the last 26 years, so there’s no doubt FanFest will be a high-traffic area as well.

The addition of FanFest is just further proof that Las Vegas truly does become a “Cowboy Town” every December, and the city and its hotels, casinos and businesses have gone out of their way in the last 10 years to roll out the red carpet for the cowboys and cowgirls who descend upon the “Entertainment Capital of the World” every year. Another illustration of the trend was the announcement in early July that the PRCA signed MGM Grand Hotel & Casino – a longtime Las Vegas Events partner – as a National Partner and Hotel Partner.

“We are excited to welcome MGM Grand into the PRCA family of sponsors,” Stressman said in a statement. “Partnering with MGM Grand gives our passionate ProRodeo fans the opportunity to experience the luxury of this property and to be a part of the first-class events that this great entertainment venue offers.”

The fact that the Wrangler NFR has been sold out for 250 consecutive performances should come as no surprise, considering the amount of interest the event has garnered through the years. Every year the Wrangler NFR is conducted at the Thomas & MackCenter, the sport’s roots grow a little bit deeper in the Nevada desert.

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