Each December, Las Vegas goes a little crazy for country. Cowboys descend on the city and country music abounds when the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo returns.
The rodeo features competitions in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding.
The event at the Thomas & Mack Center at the University of Nevada Las Vegas has been a sellout for 26 years in a row. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do all over town if you don’t have a ticket — and much of it is free. You might even be lucky enough to snag a last-minute seat (see below).
ELKO – Although the Thanksgiving holiday is in full swing, the top 15 competitors in each event of the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association have one thing on their minds – an early and prosperous Christmas.
On Dec. 1, Las Vegas will turn into cowboy country for 10 days – marking the 2016 PRCA season finale at the National Finals Rodeo – which began in 1959 and has taken place in Las Vegas since 1985.
Eldridge has not disappointed since his 2015 NFR average title and world runner-up finish, compiling $81,951 in earnings during the 2016 season – placing sixth in the world standings and trailing current No. 1 Ty Erickson ($92,942) by less than $11,000.
Eldridge had a torrid start to the 2016 season – which included nearly $100,000 of prize money that did not count toward the PRCA standings – using stellar performances at RodeoHouston ($56,750), more than $23,000 at the Calgary Stampede and numerous high placings in the Cinch Super Shootouts.
After hitting a slump during the crucial 4th of July stretch, Eldridge rebounded with nearly $7,000 of prize money at the “Daddy of ‘Em All” in the Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming, winning the final round for the second year in a row with an identical time of 9.0 seconds.
In the later stages of the season, Eldridge won $1,986 for splitting third in the first round of the Caldwell Night Rodeo in Idaho.
During Labor Day Weekend, he tallied $3,299 at the Walla Walla Frontier Days in Washington. Eldridge placed second in the average with a time of 9.1 seconds on to runs ($2,175) and split second in the second round with a time of 4.4 seconds for another $1,124.
The National Finals Rodeo is one of the biggest events of year, and in Vegas that’s saying something. Almost every resort in town wants in on the action, with viewing parties (often in the race and sports books), live entertainment and – just in time for the holidays – plenty of cowboy-themed shopping.