The 2012 Wrangler Guide to the National Finals Rodeo had an ad with these words:
“26,459 pairs of boots
412,203 pairs of jeans
Only at Boot Barn in Las Vegas for the Rodeo”.
The ad went on to explain that for rodeo customers, Boot Barn had booths at two Las Vegas gift shows and also welcomed customers to its Las Vegas Boulevard store. When the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association brings its “super bowl of rodeos” to Las Vegas each December, sellers of clothing, jewelry, Western art and anything else appealing to the rodeo crowd gear up to try to make their December sales figures soar.
The Cowboy Christmas Gift Show, the longest running of the gift shows is held during Vegas rodeo days. Cowboy Christmas is held in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center and is open to the public. This year’s dates were December 6-15. For 2012, Cowboy Christmas also included something new — a special “Fanfest” section with live entertainment by Academy of Country Music artists, themed food and specialty drinks, exhibitions and rodeo 101 clinics. The gift show featured some 400 booths with vendors coming from throughout the country. Shoppers could indeed “make a day of it” at the Las Vegas Convention Center show.
While stopped at a table near the Tex-Mex Grill, at the Cowboy show, I spoke with a man and wife, he was wearing jeans and a cowboy hat and looked very comfortable in both. When asked, the “cowboy” said he was actually an electrician from Michigan. He had grown up on a farm and as a youngster did ride horses. Back then, he said, he dreamed of being a rodeo cowboy, but that wasn’t in the cards for him. About the hat? He had bought it that morning for $50 and wore it proudly. He and his wife were going to attend the National Finals Rodeo that night, taking one of the shuttles from the convention center to the Thomas and Mack Center. They both said they loved the rodeo atmosphere and loved the gift show.
That rodeo atmosphere was all over town, from the billboards welcoming rodeo fans and a number of hotels offering rodeo viewing parties to the many country stars in town to entertain. Long-time Las Vegas visitors remember the time before 1985 when a visit to Las Vegas in December was almost a trip to a ghost town. But since the National Finals Rodeo moved from Oklahoma to Las Vegas 27 years ago, December is full of activity, and hotels are full. The rodeo itself features the top 15 cowboys in each event coming to Las Vegas to compete in the richest and most prestigious rodeo in the world.
And the shopping isn’t bad either.