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NFR viewing parties shine brightly on and off Las Vegas Strip

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When the sun goes down, the lights turn up for what the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo appropriately terms NFR After Dark. And while those lights certainly shine bright at viewing parties, after-parties and concerts up and down the Strip, there are plenty of great gatherings all around town.

To put it succinctly: You can let ‘er rip away from the Strip, too.

For example, the Silverton, just a couple miles south of the Strip, holds an all-ages nightly viewing party at its Veil Pavilion. Kimiko Peterson, director of communications at the Silverton, noted that with TV screens around the entire room, patrons have a 360-degree view of all the Wrangler NFR action. Host Justin Frazell keep things lively the first four nights and last three nights of the Wrangler NFR, and there are food and beverage specials and nightly prize giveaways.

Word certainly got around in 2017, and the Silverton expects good turnout this year, as well.

“Last year, we had so many rodeo fans telling us how much they loved our room and the setup of our viewing parties,” Peterson said. “We’re excited to see the viewing parties and after-parties grow to become the place to watch the NFR for rodeo fans of all ages, and enjoy the nightly entertainment and activities after the rodeo.

The Silverton’s after-party includes free live entertainment and, for those who dare, a mechanical bull.
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“This is our favorite time of year here at the casino, and our team members love having the rodeo fans on property,” Peterson said. “The energy at the resort during these 10 days is something that rodeo fans and casino guests alike will enjoy.”

Hard Rock gets in the act

With big hats and boots dominating the scenery over the 10-day Wrangler NFR, even the Hard Rock Hotel gets a little bit country. Ann Lackomar, director of brand marketing at the Hard Rock, said the hotel will have live viewing parties and nightly food and beverage specials.

And what’s the Hard Rock without music, right? The hotel will roll out several no-cover-charge concerts over the course of the week inside Vinyl. The Joint also will host the Gary Allan Show on Dec. 14-15.

A few blocks west of the Strip, on Tropicana Avenue, The Orleans has long been a do-drop-in during the Wrangler NFR. Owner Boyd Gaming transforms The Orleans from the Big Easy into the Big Country.

“Boyd Gaming loves the rodeo,” said Jackie Ferrando, event marketing director for Boyd Gaming. “We’ve been a major sponsor for the last 30 years and have organized a number of nightly events and activities that have become staple must-attends for rodeo aficionados.”

Each night of the Wrangler NFR kicks off at 5 p.m. with Rump’s Rodeo Party, a pregame/live viewing party hosted by PRCA barrelman Justin “Rumpshaker” Rumford inside The Honky Tonk Saloon. The hotel also hosts family-friendly viewing parties in the Showroom tonight and from Sunday through Dec. 15, and in the Honky Tonk Saloon on Saturday night.

As the rodeo action wraps up, 21-and-older patrons can head to the Bourbon Street Lounge for the Buckin’ Bash, where they can party and dance until 2 a.m., with live music and drink specials.

Nightly show returns

The National Finals Tonight Show takes place each evening at 10:30 p.m. at the Honky Tonk Saloon, with hosts Don Gay, Joe Beaver and Dan Miller recapping the highlights and moderating Q&A sessions with rodeo standouts.

“The National Finals Tonight Show is the perfect event for those looking for a fun party vibe, as well as a recap of the day’s events. It’s really the best of both worlds,” Ferrando said.

Of course, the South Point is a key cog to the Wrangler NFR machine. The evolution of the nightly viewing party over the past several years has been tremendous, and the go-round buckle presentations in the main showroom — with live entertainment following the awards — turn into a nightly late-night party.

“It started as five days, in the second-largest ballroom. Today, we do it in all three ballrooms, all 10 days,” said South Point owner Michael Gaughan, who has long been heavily involved in the Wrangler NFR. “We get 4,000 people in the ballrooms, plus there’s viewing in the showroom, and I’ve got the three lounge bars. They’re packed, too. And in the non-lounge bars, the NFR is on the TV sets.

“The biggest thing I’ve ever done with rodeo is to get the PRCA to give us the live feed. All the live feed did was bring more people to town. They just want to be here for the rodeo. Some people even give their tickets away for one or two nights, just to go to the viewing parties. They’re a lot of fun.”