ML - Vegas Magazine

2012 - Issue 7 - November

Vegas Magazine - Niche Media - There is a place beyond the crowds, beyond the ropes, where dreams are realized and success is celebrated. You are invited.

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Page 125 of 127

Parting Shot AS THE NATIONAL FINALS RODEO TAKES OVER GLAMOROUS SIN CITY, THE MEN IN SUITS AND SOCIALITES IN STILETTOS MUST GIVE IN TO VEGAS-AS-COWBOY TOWN. BY JOHN KATSILOMETES suits to cowboy boots I own one slick-black pair of Tony Lama western boots I got as a Christmas gift 20 years ago. These boots are beautiful, almost like new. This is because I wear them… sparingly. The other day someone close to me said of the Lamas, "I love it when you wear your cowboy boots." I assumed it was because they must make me look taller. "No," she said, "because when you're wearing them, you strut." I thought for a moment, then reasoned: "When you wear cowboy boots, you have to strut." Swagger in my giddyup? It seems that, subconsciously at least, I've become a cowboy. We talk a lot about swagger in Vegas, but often we mean the swanky sort of gait cultivated by the Rat Pack during their heyday on the Strip. But the city is, at its heart and core, a cowboy town. The first resort-casino constructed on the Strip was the Old West–tinged El Rancho. Turn-of-the-century photos of the site of Vegas's earliest gaming establishment on Fremont Street, the Golden Gate, reflect what looks like the cast of Gunsmoke: grizzled gents in weathered, wide-brimmed hats, sturdy long-sleeve shirts, blue jeans, and—of course— shin-high western boots. Think horses and hitching posts. At no time is that characteristic more prevalent than when the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) gallops into town in December (the dates this year are December 6–15). Sponsored today by Wrangler, the NFR has been one of Las Vegas's signature events since the mid-1980s, when hotel- casino magnates and other key community players, um, wrangled the NFR from its former home in Oklahoma City. Such old hands as Las Vegas Events President Herb McDonald and resort visionary Benny Binion offered what was tantamount to a burlap bag stuffed with gold bricks to uproot the NFR and head west for a more prosperous future. In the years since, Vegas's megaresorts have concealed the city's Wild West undercarriage— except when the NFR and its nearly 50,000 visitors rumble into Las Vegas as if it were leading a cattle drive. Vegas prepares properly for the visitors. Parties are held at such noncowboy resorts as Mirage, where the sportsbook is remade into a giant saloon for Wrangler NFR After Dark, a nightly event featuring live country music, stacked hay bales, barrels as tables, and wooden fencing. Down the Strip, the Pub at Monte Carlo has hosted belt-buckle contests. For the past three years, country fans poured into the Encore Theater to see Garth Brooks; this year the Tim McGraw–Faith Hill Soul2Soul performances begin at Venetian and Shania Twain dominates the Colosseum at Caesars during the NFR's run. Some locales are obviously suited for events. The Gold Coast hosts rodeo-fashioned the rollicking Buck'n Ball hoedown, while South Point is home to the annual Benny Binion's Bucking Horse & Bull Sale and the complementary Priefert World Series of Team Roping $5.25 million event. This is when we get back to our roots (or "ruts," as the city's cowboys might say), dust off the boots, and get our strut goin'. It is the Vegas way. V Only in Vegas! 124 VEGASMAGAZINE.COM ILLUSTRATION BY DANIEL O'LEARY

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