Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy): The National Finals Rodeo Rides Into Vegas

Yeehaw! Ten-gallon hats, bow legs and big buckles are invading Las Vegas as the National Finals Rodeo rolls into town today through Dec. 11. Look for more than 200,000 cowgirls and cowboys heading over to the Thomas & Mack Center to watch saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, bull riding and more. And with the NFR crowning a new champion and all these guests in town, that means loads of events. Here’s a quick rundown of how to satisfy your inner cowboy with country music and bar specials all over Las Vegas. Naturally, there will be no shortage of mechanical bull riding.

For tickets and a complete list of events during the National Finals Rodeo, visit

Thursday, Dec. 2
Think you can ride the bulls like a champion? Head over to PBR Rock Bar & Grill at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort for the Ride the Bull Challenge from 9 p.m. to midnight. Ride that mechanical bull for $500 in cash and prizes nightly.
Get your country groove going with Tony Marques playing at the Tropicana at 9:30 p.m. Of course, there will be a mechanical bull kicking things up from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. nightly. You can even find happy hour specials from midnight to 2 a.m. if you need some liquid courage.

Head over to Brand at the Monte Carlo for On the Mic Karaoke Country Edition to turn into Nashville star for the night.
Get some blue collar laughter with Bill Engvall performing at Treasure Island tonight, as well as Dec. 4 and Dec. 9-10. Country artist Clay Walker brings his Nashville twang to the Golden Nugget as well.

Friday, Dec. 3
It’s Friday night and what’s a cowboy to do? How about a little music and comedy? If you can finagle tickets, Garth Brooks performs at his residency at Wynn Las Vegas through Dec. 5. Grand Ole Opry performer Travis Tritt gets you out of “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” at the Eastside Cannery. Over at the Silverton, actress-turned-country star Laura Bell Bundy will “Giddy on Up.” More blue collar comedy hits the Mirage when comedian Ron White takes the stage. Look for the cigar-smoking, scotch-drinking funnyman Dec. 4 and Dec. 10-11 as well. Rock & Rita’s at Circus Circus presents a performance by rodeo headliners Paul Justin and The Saloonatixx. Get your Sharpies ready at the Tropicana when NFR participants and Royal Riders Clayton Williams and Tilden Hooper will do an autograph signing along with the Crown Royal Models.

Saturday, Dec. 4
Slow down the pace with American Idol’s country star Josh Gracin at the Pub at Monte Carlo. Or get your laughs on when world-famous rodeo clown Flint Rasmussen hosts the night, along with guest appearances from NFR riders McKennon Wimberly and Renato Nunes at PBR Rock Bar & Grill. Doll up in your best cow gear for a chance to win $1,000 in a best-dressed contest or buy raffle tickets for a shot at winning an NFR World Finals jacket valued at $500. Over at Hooters Hotel, you can see free shows from country band Stetzen at the Night Owl Showroom.

Sunday, Dec. 5
Head over to The Orleans for A Tennessee Christmas with Lee Greenwood. Stick around for the Jingle Bell Jam at The Orleans Arena, where Rodney Atkins, Craig Morgan and James Otto perform.

Monday, Dec. 6
Start your week off right with standup comedian Rodney Carrington when he brings his music and comedy to the MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theater. Storyteller Ron Shock and screenwriter and comedian Cowboy Bill Martin take over Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at the Tropicana. Or check out the first-ever American Country Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Fans vote for their favorites in this awards show. Look for appearances by Laura Bell Bundy, Jewel, Lady Antebellum, Rodney Carrington and Jeff Dunham, and performances by Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts, Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton and Josh Turner.

Tuesday, Dec. 7
Your favorite NFR participants get their John Hancocks at the ready for an autograph signing session at the MGM Grand lobby. Look for Trevor Brazile, Fred Whitfield, Billy Etbauer, Will Lowe, Brittany Pozzi, Patrick Smith, Josh Peek, Cody Ohl, Stran Smith, Tuf Cooper, Clint Cooper, Wes Stevenson, Bobby Mote, Travis Tryan and Angie Meadors. At the Golden Nugget, John Michael Montgomery performs.

Wednesday, Dec. 8
“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” tonight when the Charlie Daniels Band takes over the Tiffany Theater at the Tropicana tonight. Hook up with rodeo stars Dusty Tuckness and Britt Bockius tonight and tomorrow night at Munchbar at Caesars Palace from 10 to 11:30 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 9
Head back downtown for a two-night engagement of hits like “Good Run of Bad Luck” and “A Better Man” from Clint Black.

Friday, Dec. 10
We’re getting close to the end. Save some of that energy for the MGM Grand’s WNFR All-Star Fans After-Party at Studio 54. Or if you’re in the mood for a little beauty, check out the first-ever Buckle Bunny Pageant at the Tropicana. Participants will be judged on wit, beauty and personality with three moving on to the finals Dec. 11. If you haven’t had your fill of music, then check out Miranda Lambert at the Pearl at the Palms with Eric Church and Josh Kelley.

Saturday, Dec. 11
This is it, the last night. NFR champion Trevor Brazile hosts a VIP post-party at Studio 54 at the MGM Grand featuring Crown Royal and Bacardi drink specials. Head over to the Mirage for the Official WNFR World Champion Awards Show and 10th Night After-Party that include a presentation of awards to the 2010 PRCA World Champions and recognition of all WNFR contestants. The evening also includes music performances, prize giveaways and celebrity appearances. Or take your last shot at mechanical bull riding along with Luke Snyder, Brendon Clark, Chris Shivers and rodeo clown Flint Rasmussen at PBR Rock Bar & Grill. The best mechanical bull rider wins $1,000. The bar ends the NFR festivities by raffling off two tickets to the 2011 NFR World Finals, valued at $500.

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