Updated December 5, 2020 - 7:31 am
Say this for our Vegas, the city has a deep bench of entertainers. Wayne Newton, Carrot Top, Jabbawockeez, Brad Garrett, magician Jen Kramer, Terry Fator and the gents from Thunder From Down Under among the stars reinforcing the magnitude of the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
It proves, even in a pandemic, Vegas is Vegas. Tourism leaders have assembled that oddly matched list, which also summons the ladies of “Fantasy” at Luxor, NASCAR champ Kurt Busch, and Stacey Whitton Summers (who plays Shania Twain in “Legends In Concert” at the Tropicana.” They area all bucking out a marketing campaign for the 2021 Las Vegas NFR.
Yes, the rodeo has just opened in Arlington’s Globe Life Field. But Las Vegas Events is making sure the universe understands that the rodeo, related parties, and Cowboy Christmas will be back after this year’s sojourn in Texas. The celebrity testimonials are lined up on the official nfrexperience.com/nfr360 link, which is set up to enforce the Vegas brand in advance of the 2021 event.
The portal also strings together the NFR’s Vegas host hotels, including such old hands as Michael Gaughan’s South Point and newcomer Virgin Hotel Las Vegas.
Mr. Las Vegas is once more tapped to lead the blitz of headliners and (in Busch’s case) sports stars in a citywide campaign.
“I was really sad that the NFR couldn’t be here, knowing what it means to all of us in Las Vegas. But if they couldn’t be here they picked the next-best state possible,” Newton said Friday. “Remember, though, that they can’t keep it because it’s coming back here with bells on.”
The event relocated because it would not have been feasible, or even allowed, to stage an 18,000-capacity event inside the Thomas & Mack Center or hold most of the peripheral Vegas Goes Country NFR parties. Globe Life Field does allow for more space and social distancing to meet the event’s standards. For this year, anyway.
Newton, a significant player in the equestrian culture with his collection of Arabian horses, has participated in several NFR events since the rodeo arrived in 1985.
“I’ve seen the growth of the NFR since it arrived in our Las Vegas,” he said. “The rodeo and all of the parties just take over the entire city. It is a major event for Las Vegas.”
The project’s tag line is, “There’s Only One NFR, There’s Only One Vegas.” Las Vegas Events President Pat Christenson says such 2021 upgrades as Cowboy Christmas moving into the Las Vegas Convention Center’s new West Hall will be spotlighted. The Convention Center expansion is ongoing but is to be complete by NFR 2021.
“The experience next year is is going to be dramatically improved,” Christenson said. “It’s going to be the best venue in the world, quite frankly, for Cowboy Christmas to move into. I think that is a big step in the right direction.”
Las Vegas Events is producing Cowboy Christmas in Fort Worth for this year’s event, which opened this week. LVE is also producing the popular Junior World Finals. The agency is all over the NFRExperience.com website, with its “NFR 360” highlight package of past events in Las Vegas. LVE is a presence in Texas, even assisting this year’s temporary host city in creating an online platform to sell 17,000 tickets in a socially distant seating pattern.
The celeb hired hands are on board. Garrett refers to himself as “Urban Hebrew” as he answered the call to back the campaign. Fator said, “One of my favorite times of the year is when the NFR comes to Vegas. Looking out and seeing all those cowboy hats in the audience is such a thrill and I can’t wait to experience it again in 2021.” And Kramer added, “There’s always a fun, vibrant energy in the air when the NFR comes to town. Rodeo fans bring a special kind of magic to Las Vegas.”
Las Vegas’ contract with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association runs through 2025, having been extended by a year because of the Arlington interruption.
Christenson says, given more than a year to plan for 2021, the show will be more refined and expansive than ever. As he says, “We are strengthening our hand by strengthening the experience.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.