The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

Jessie Melton, Online Editor

Garth Brooks caught the essence of rodeo life best in his song Rodeo: “Well it’s bulls and blood, It’s dust and mud, It’s the roar of a Sunday crowd, It’s the white in his knuckles, The gold in the buckle, He’ll win the next go ’round…And they call the thing rodeo”.

In the midst of pro level sports in America such as football and basketball the sport of rodeo often gets left in the dust. But that doesn’t stop millions of fans from gathering in Las Vegas, Nevada every December for a week of the National Finals Rodeo to watch the very best athletes in events like team roping, barrel racing, bull riding, bronc and saddle bronc riding, and steer wrestling. The sport of rodeo portrays an aspect of American culture and history that these fans hope to keep alive. The majority of athletes in the NFR are American, but countries such as Brazil, Australia, and Canada consistently send world class competitors.

The year 2016 was nothing short of an exciting year for rodeo fans as they watched their favorite cowboys and cowgirls rise and fall in the rankings, sometimes winning and sometimes suffering falls and injury. In the end only the very best, the top ten in each event, are given the chance to compete at the NFR. The amount of talent that it takes to get into the NFR ensures a good show for rodeo fans from across the world.

In the opening ceremonies of the rodeo each state and country and its representative athletes ride into the arena on horseback behind their represented flag. Those who attended the opening night of the rodeo on December 1 of last year were able to see their state’s competitor’s ride in and cheer them on. According to the official National Finals Rodeo website Texas has had the highest representation of competitors for at least the past five years and this year was no different. Many may be surprised to learn that Utah also has a very high representation in Vegas, and this past year they had the second highest representation.

For Gil Orme and Doug Sullivan, almost yearly NFR attenders, this year lived up to their expectations. Sullivan commented, “Roping the first night was a little slow, but they picked it up the rest of the week, but the rest of the events had an exciting start to the week”.

If you know rodeo, chances are you know the name Wright, and if you’re a rodeo fan from Utah you’re a huge fan. The Wright family had multiple representatives in 2016’s saddle bronc riding. A dad, his brother, and a few of his sons carried on the Wright family legacy this year, all with multiple wins all week long.

According the official NFR website multiple of the rodeo nights were sold out, so it was an exciting week for rodeo fans from around the world.