As I sit here working away at Las Vegas Events’ headquarters just down the road from the Thomas & Mack Center, the reality of seven months of hard work coming to a close has begun to set in.
This spring, I was tasked with the immense responsibility and honor of leading the charge on producing a commemorative book to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo’s move to Las Vegas. A controversial decision three decades ago has paid off big-time in the ever-evolving rodeo, and fans have been treated to some amazing things in the “Entertainment Capital of the World” since it moved here in 1985.
It has been no small project and my life as a journalist has been dominated by the book’s production for more than half the year, but it has been one heck of a ride. I interviewed nearly 50 people, including a former Nevada governor and senator, ProRodeo Hall of Famers, world champions, Las Vegas casino magnates and city leaders for this project, and the hundreds of pages of transcripts have produced some compelling stories and anecdotes.
I knew a bit about the vote that changed the NFR’s home from Oklahoma City to Las Vegas, but had no idea the ins and outs involved with the process, and I was routinely surprised by the stories I was told and the series of events that led to arguably the most important decision in the history of rodeo. I was also interested in telling stories that had never been told before, as well as looking at the rodeo from every angle imaginable.
I feel like we have done just that in the 68-page book that will be available to fans along with the official Wrangler NFR program this year during the Finals, and I am confident readers will enjoy the book as a historical and fun examination of the rodeo they have come to know and love through the years. The Wrangler NFR really is one of the greatest sporting events in the world – and I have seen enough different types to know – and this book hopefully will help others appreciate just how awesome a spectacle it has become.
This week is final edit week for the book, and I will be both relieved and thrilled to send it off to the printer on Monday. The last seven months have been quite a journey and a new challenge, which is something I believe writers must continuously look for as they progress in their careers.
As usual, every contestant and everyone associated with the sport and the Wrangler NFR that I either interviewed or leaned on for help was amazingly gracious and willing to support the project. I think the end result will be a one-of-a-kind book people will be proud to own, and I know I will be proud to have my name on its masthead.
It’s hard to believe the concept that was originally discussed eight months ago has come to fruition and will soon be a tangible reality, and I can’t wait to get a copy in my hands for the first time. It may not end up being perfect – but will be as close to that as humanly possible – and won’t win a Pulitzer, but the book will do exactly what it was set out to achieve: tell the story of the world’s greatest rodeo like it never has been told before.
That sounds pretty darned good to me.