It's the ropes and the reins and the joy and the pain and they call the thing rodeo.
In many of country singer Garth Brooks’ songs, he sings about that high octane sport called rodeo.
This time of year is usually associated with the holidays, but there’s another popular event this time of year with a large following.
The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is held for ten days in Las Vegas every December. This year, the NFR runs from December 7-16.
The NFR is one of the hottest tickets in town, and sells out every year. It also has the largest prize money rodeo in the world.
The rodeo consists of the best 15 contestants in every category: bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, team roping and everyone’s favorite, bull riding.
I’ve always enjoyed watching rodeos, but when I went to college in South Dakota, I quickly realized how big of a deal the NFR is.
For 10 days, we gathered by TV’s and religiously watched every event, even though it’s always a struggle to figure out what channel it’s on.
This year, it’s on CBS Sports and sometimes is on RFD-TV.
Some folks I know are even in fantasy and pool leagues for the NFR. I brought the love of the NFR home with me and my brothers really enjoy watching it too.
Grady has already set the recorder so he doesn’t miss any of his favorite contestants. Every year, I usually cheer the loudest for the most local contestants.
Usually, it ends up being someone from Western South Dakota. This year, there are contestants from all over the United States, Canada, and a cowboy originally from Brazil!
What I’m most looking forward to is watching two actually local contestants compete. J.D. Struxness from Appleton is competing in his second NFR as a steer wrestler.
Tanner Aus from Granite Falls is competing in his third NFR in the bareback bronc riding event.
Chances are that most of the Mascot readers either know these guys personally or know someone that knows them. It’s really cool and exciting to have local guys competing on the biggest rodeo stage!
Both Aus and Struxness had great runs last year winning several rounds each and placing high in other rounds. It was neat to see on the broadcasts and social media all the buzz the cowboys were causing.
They even started a special campaign called, “Minnesota Proud” that continues today.
Both cowboys have made tee shirts this year that their fans can purchase. My brothers will be proudly wearing their shirts during the NFR.
There was a great story aired on WCCO on Monday night where they interviewed Tanner Aus. It was neat to see his training routines.
He even gave WCCO’s sports reporter David McCoy a crash course on bareback riding.
That interview can be found online.
KLQP Radio’s Paul Raymo has been a great supporter of the local cowboys and I’m looking forward to his upcoming coverage too.
Not only does the National Finals Rodeo showcase the best rodeo contestants, it also showcases the best livestock.
Many of the contestants have their own fan pages, but most of the animals have their own pages, too!
When a great match-up between a cowboy and a famous bull is set, it gains almost as much coverage in the rodeo world as a match-up between Tom Brady and Carson Wentz.
If you’re looking for a new holiday tradition, try adding the thing called rodeo to the mix.
I’m hoping the local guys not only bring Southwest Minnesota into the spotlight, but that they can also rack up some big wins.