A Great Vegas Holiday Shopping Tradition

The World Series of Team Roping was one of a number
of activities at South Point in addition to its gift show.
Photo by Diane Taylor

I don’t know if there’s much Godliness in roping a calf or riding a bull, but during the last two weeks, vendors and hotel owners all over Las Vegas were “Thanking God” for the recent Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and all that went with it.

Local Las Vegans know that when the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association was convinced to bring its National Finals Rodeo to Las Vegas, the December doldrums in “sin city” suddenly gave way to one of the most exciting times in the West. I’m old enough to remember when a trip to Las Vegas in December was practically a free trip. My husband and I stayed at Bally’s one December and the many free meals and generous slot play paid for our room!

But now? The first two weeks of December are filled with Stetsons, leather, bling, tight butts in denim, rodeo stars, country singers and lots of nice people who love the country life. And further, the 26 years of rodeo in Las Vegas have also brought shopping opportunities unlike any in the country. The original and largest gift show associated with the rodeo is called “Cowboy Christmas”. Its success more than 20 years ago has since spawned other major gift shows across the city.

As the accompanying video shows, last week, I attended four Las Vegas gift shows with my video camera. All four shows were free and open to the public and every one was interesting, fun….and crowded. I talked to several vendors at the different shows and most said they were having good or great years in terms of sales. Only one new vendor ventured the opinion that perhaps now too many gift shows made it difficult for shoppers to differentiate one from the other.

Everyone wins when the rodeo comes to town...
including local taxi drivers.
Photo by Diane Taylor

The four shows I attended all made the point that the well-dressed Westerner will be spending money. Those great looking Western hats, belts, purses, boots, shirts and jeans…aren’t flimsy and don’t come at bargain prices. If your ranch décor has a Western theme, you’ll be spending good money as well….though I must admit, the artwork and furniture, most of it handmade, was stunning in its beauty. Yes, some items are lower priced and lots of the “extra” gift show activities are free, including picture-taking and autographs with the rodeo stars.

As I say in the video, local Las Vegans who like to shop should make a point to visit at least one of the gift shows – if not the rodeo itself – next year. The largest and oldest of the shows is Cowboy Christmas at the Las Vegas Convention Center. My brothers now visit me at rodeo time every year just to spend hours at Cowboy Christmas.

This handmade silver saddle, a product of
Saddle Queen, is priced at $2500.
Photo by Diane Taylor

The folks at South Point not only have a gift show, but activities of different kinds all day every day. The Miss Rodeo America pageant is held there as is the World Series of Team Roping and live radio broadcasts, buckle presentations, art auctions, etc. South Point itself has 100 percent occupancy during rodeo time, and its parking lot is packed. Blowup balloons in the shape of Western boots waive above the slot machines throughout South Point.

The shows at the Sands Expo and Convention Center and at Mandalay Bay are organized by Group W Productions and are growing in stature, too, though at Mandalay Bay this year, the number of exhibitors of items other than Western Wear was obvious. At that show one could purchase everything from hand cream, shoe polish and Bloody Mary mix to stacking Russian dolls.

Do you get the impression I love December in Las Vegas when the professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls come to town? I do indeed.

Comments

3 responses on “A Great Vegas Holiday Shopping Tradition

  1. Diane, been following your Living Las Vegas blog for a while…*you’re terrific::-))
    From Chicago also, and have been a snowbird in Henderson for the last 7 yrs..Bought in Sun City Aliante last year….
    Love your tours of the Cowboys Xmas in Vegas,,,,,,,,,will be going to one of them today…Sun, 12/11..
    Thanks again for your fun & informative reporting !!!

  2. Diane, once again you have written an interesting article. Never thought of going to the goft show. Its too late for me this year but I plan on going next year. Nice pictures.

  3. Lady Di

    How about the expense of being a cowboy or even a cowgirl these days?
    Ya need a hat, pressed jeans and pressed shirt, cowboy boots and spurs, a $2,000.00 saddle,
    a horse of course, a trailer for said horse, a stall and barn I guess,and of course feed for that beautiful steed, and a big truck.
    Nice pics and good article.

    Mr T.

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