Cowboys are taking over Las Vegas this month for the annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The 10-day event is the Super Bowl of rodeos and draws more than 100,000 attendees each year to see bareback riding, barrel racing, roping, bull riding, and more.
NFR is huge for Las Vegas. That’s because NFR is so much more than just the nightly rodeo competition. There are Western-themed events all across the city, from country music concerts and parties to horse shows and auctions.
Shopping is an event of its own during NFR. There are expos all over town featuring companies from all over the world selling anything and everything for the Western lifestyle enthusiast. It’s possible to spend all 10 days of NFR doing nothing but shopping!
If you’ve never been, the sheer scale can be a bit overwhelming. So put on a comfortable pair of walking shoes, because this is your guide to the biggest shopping expos happening during the National Finals Rodeo!
Cowboy Christmas is the original gift show of the Wrangler NFR. This smorgasbord of shopping has been going on just about as long as the rodeo itself. It features approximately 350 vendors spread out over 440,000 square feet of exhibition space – that’s almost 7 ½ football fields! If you’re the type of person who likes to stroll and look at everything, then you will need multiple days to get through Cowboy Christmas.
Every single aisle is filled with the latest western wear, jewelry, home decor and furniture, boots, hats, tack, trailers, and on and on. Cowboy Christmas’ slogan is: “It’s all here,” and they aren’t exaggerating. It is a sensory overload of the Western lifestyle, but you are sure to find something unique for everyone on your holiday list. Upstairs you’ll find the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Hunter & Outdoor Christmas Expo, with even more vendors focused on outdoorsmen and women.
There is a lot more than just shopping going on inside Cowboy Christmas. The Wrangler Rodeo Arena, which boasts a seating capacity of more than 1,100, will host a variety of events and competitions including the Junior NFR, the Exceptional Rodeo which pairs pro rodeo athletes with special needs children, and the Flag Girl Competition.
The Rodeo Live Stage features daily live recordings of the show “Outside the Barrel” with Flint Rasmussen, RFD-TV’s Western Sports Roundup, and Rodeo Recess with host Andy Seiler. The Coors Rodeo Saloon offers food vendors and video screens with a replay of the prior night’s Wrangler NFR performance. The NFR Social Lounge features radio remotes, contestant and musician autograph sessions, giveaways, and more. You can even see the Great Wall of Rodeo, featuring all Wrangler NFR contestants and other interactive elements.
NEW THIS YEAR
NFR Extra is a studio designed to capture unique interviews with those involved in the rodeo industry. Once the NFR is over, NFR Extra will become an hour-long podcast which will air twice monthly and feature icons that make up the rodeo and Western lifestyle.
At Cavender’s Speed Zone attendees can learn the ropes from rodeo legend Speed Williams. In this area, fans can be the first to see and rope the ‘Speed Trainer,’ a stationary training device developed by Priefert.
Junior NFR BLVD. features sixteen interactive exhibits from sponsors of each event. The red carpet will lead you to the Wrangler Rodeo Arena, the location for the Junior NFR.
DO NOT MISS
You can’t visit Cowboy Christmas without stopping to watch the Junior NFR presented by YETI at the Wrangler Rodeo Arena. More than 650 youth contestants will be vying for championships in eight events. The Junior NFR features riders 19-year-old and younger competing in bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, junior steer wrestling, girls and boys breakaway, team roping, tie-down roping, and barrel racing.
When: December 6 – 15, 9am – 5pm daily
Where: Las Vegas Convention Center
Country Christmas is now in its 25th year during NFR. This popular shopping expo features more than 400 vendors and more than 200,000 square feet of exhibition space. Here you’ll find aisle after aisle of unique jewelry, western apparel, furniture, tack, and more. Country Christmas is one of two expos open on the second Sunday of NFR.
Country Christmas also has events happening onsite during the expo. The RIDE TV Stage holds live telecasts every day, cowboy church services, fashion shows, and more. The Priefert Arena will host the World Championship Dummy Roping for Kids and other rodeo events.
When: December 6 – 16, 10am – 5pm daily
Where: Sands Expo Center
Now in its 15th year, the Cowboy Marketplace features more than 350 vendors and nearly 200,000 square feet of exhibition space. Browse trucks and trailers, tack, western apparel, handmade crafts, and other unique items for sale.
Events happening during Cowboy Marketplace include the Twisted X American Bullfighting Championships, ranch horse sale, colt starting
When: December 6 – 15, 10am – 5pm daily
Where: Mandalay Bay Convention Center
This is the 12th year of South Point’s gift show, which features more than 150 vendors over 120,000 square feet. Don’t let the smaller vendor count fool you; this is an exclusive expo with a two-year waitlist. Organizers say they are very picky about which Western-lifestyle brands they invite. Browse apparel, tack, ranch and farm equipment, home decor, jewelry, leather goods, and more.
South Point is also hosting a number of events during NFR, including Benny Binion’s Bucking Horse and Bull Sale, World Bronc Futurity, and the Ariat World Series of Team Roping. The expo hall will also host Santa Claus and daily entertainment performers.
When: December 6-16, 9am – 6pm daily
Where: South Point Equestrian Center
Story and Photos by Samantha Szesciorka