Well, folks, here we are again! It’s only July, but people in Las Vegas are already thinking about rodeo. In fact, people in ProRodeo are already thinking about Vegas.
I’m thrilled to be back for a third installment of being your “NFR Insider,” and it’s going to be a fun and entertaining race to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Just like last year, I will be writing columns twice a month from July through October, then weekly blogs in November leading up to the “Super Bowl of Rodeo.”
Las Vegas Events is letting me loose on the town again for the third straight year to cover the ins and outs of the world’s richest rodeo, and I will post daily blogs throughout this year’s Wrangler NFR, which runs Dec. 5-14. I’ve covered a lot in Las Vegas the past two years, and I’ll do my best to keep the content fresh and interesting for the readers.
Leading up to December, I will be profiling a series of stories that develop, interviewing cowboy champions, Hall of Famers and major players in the sport about a variety of topics and news as the march to Vegas rolls on. There is always something going on in ProRodeo, and I will do my best to keep my finger on the pulse of the sport.
In addition, I will be participating more in the NFR Experience’s Facebook and Twitter pages, taking them over from time to time to answer fans’ questions and helping provide interesting content and updates. It will also provide fans an opportunity to become more involved in the sport by suggesting questions for me to ask contestants, articles and storylines to write and explore and to interact more with someone on the “inside.”
I hope it will be a lot of fun for fans, and I know I’ll enjoy doing it. My “NFR Insider” blog has been very successful the last two years, so I would like to thank the fans for taking the time to read my columns.
I know this year will be even better. Now, for your reading pleasure, a Q&A featuring yours truly…enjoy!
Who is Neal Reid?
Las Vegas Events went behind the scenes with Neal Reid to find out a little more about the writer and get his thoughts on the sport and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. He will be covering his 10th Wrangler NFR this December.
1. What do you like best about coming to Las Vegas in December?
NR: I love the city’s energy and seeing how it’s transformed into “Cowboy Town” while the Wrangler NFR is in town. I’ve been to Vegas other times of the year, and with the exception of March Madness, I haven’t seen buzz around the city like there is when the rodeo is in town. It’s quite the spectacle. Plus, eating great food and always having somewhere to go and something to do is a big thrill.
2. This will be your 10th year covering the National Finals Rodeo. What has been your favorite NFR moment?
NR: That’s a tough question, and it’s hard to pick just one. It’s always amazing to witness history and see rodeo stars cementing their legacies as potential Hall of Famers and legends. Some of my favorite moments have included seeing Trevor Brazile win the sport’s first Triple Crown in 24 years in 2007, seeing Stran Smith finally break through and win a gold buckle in 2008 and watching an emotional Mary Walker win a world championship in the barrel racing last year. I also saw Chad Masters and Jade Corkill set a new team roping single-run world record of 3.3 seconds at the 2009 Wrangler NFR, JoJo LeMond and Randon Adams clock 3.4 seconds in the same event and Brazile break Ty Murray’s all-around world title mark. Being able to have a front-row seat for those events, and more, has been a treat.
3. How did you get into covering rodeo?
NR: I followed a boss from my days working in public relations in professional golf out to Colorado Springs to work for the ProRodeo Sports News because I wanted to write articles instead of press releases. I was intrigued by the sport, but had only had minimal interaction with it through the years. I fell in love with Colorado Springs and jumped in with both feet into the world of ProRodeo. It’s been quite the interesting time, and I’m always energized by the stories I get to tell through my articles.
4. We’re sure you’ve had some great interviews, which interview do you think was the best?
NR: When I was working for the PSN, I had the pleasure of interviewing legends Jim Shoulders and Clem McSpadden on several occasions. They were both great and extremely helpful, and I could always count on them for a good quote or story. It’s a shame they’re gone now, but their legacies definitely live on. Another one that sticks out to me is when I went with Trevor Brazile to his suite at the MGM Grand two years ago to do an exclusive interview and story about his VIP accommodations. Trevor’s 10 days at the NFR are always an insane array of non-stop scheduling from dawn until dusk, and he was so gracious with his time. He let me into his world – he was eating dinner with his family while I was taking pictures – and we talked candidly about what he wanted to do with the remainder of his career. It was one of my favorite days as a journalist.
5. Each night, after you finish your NFR reporting, what do you do? Where do you go?
NR: A lot of times, I will go to an event or after party to chase down a story for a blog for the next day. If I’m not doing that, I’m usually relaxing with friends at one of the casinos, and since I’ve been going there so long and covering the Wrangler NFR for so long, there’s always somewhere I can go. I will also take a night or two every four or five nights to just head back to the hotel and go to bed early in order to recharge. I’m in Las Vegas for 12 days when I cover the NFR, and that’s a LONG time to be in that city! If you have a night where you can get 10 hours of sleep, my advice is to do it. It’s some of the best sleep you’ll ever have.
6. Since you’ve been coming to Las Vegas for the NFR is there any stock that sticks out in your mind as being the most ferocious?
NR: Oh, for sure. Seeing Calgary Stampede’s Grated Coconut buck was always a thrill, and Bennie Beutler’s bull Voodoo Child was a monster. Kesler Championship Rodeo’s bareback Cool Alley Dip, Flying U Rodeo’s bull Reindeer Dippin and Harry Vold’s Painted Valley are others that come to mind. There’s nothing like seeing those animals buck in person.
7. How has rodeo changed since you’ve been covering the sport?
NR: I think there’s more involvement across the country because of some of the series the PRCA has put together, and the association is really working hard to promote the sport to future generations. Of course, the prize money has increased and social media has made it easier to disseminate information and promote the sport as well. The biggest change I’ve seen has been in Las Vegas, where casinos are now fighting with each other to get fans and contestants to spend time inside their doors by rolling out the red carpet to them. Back in 2004, there was only a hint of that, but the casinos – especially the ones who are sponsors and host hotels – have really embraced the cowboy culture while the rodeo is in town.
8. What’s a typical day like for you when you are in Las Vegas covering the NFR?
NR: There really isn’t one. Sometimes, I get to sleep in a bit and rest up for the day, but other days I’m up really early and out working on a story. I try to write two “NFR Insider” blogs a day, and last year, I was also the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s guest rodeo columnist each day during the rodeo. That meant I was knocking out three articles a day, so if I wasn’t writing and taking pictures, I was interviewing people or taking notes. Me being a “list person” and a meticulous scheduler definitely helps during the NFR, as time management is crucial. It’s a heck of a whirlwind, but it’s also a lot of fun.
9. Have you ever participated in a rodeo?
NR: No, I haven’t. My father was a bull rider in his teen years and even won the Mississippi high school state championship in the bull riding and all-around in 1967. I played baseball, football and wrestled growing up, but never stepped into the arena trying to win a check. Rodeo is such a difficult and oftentimes vicious sport, that I will leave that competition up to the experts while I just observe and report about it. Sometimes, being on the sidelines is just fine.
10. What is one thing you want your readers to know about you?
NR: I’m an onion with many layers (even though I can’t stand onions). I’m a sports fanatic (especially with Auburn football) who used to watch NFL doubleheaders without distraction from the age of 2 and can lose a whole Saturday immersed in college football. I speak functional Spanish, have been to 39 states and six foreign countries, have been in the presence of royalty and once had breakfast with President Gerald Ford. Paris (France, not Texas) is my favorite city I’ve visited, I love to read and am an avid poker player who has played in some World Series of Poker tournaments in recent years. Other than that, there’s not much to know!