By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
Rodeo fans planning to attend the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas next month will be required to mask up.
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association this week announced that the organization will be following Nevada’s guidelines for mask use during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas and Mack Center and at The Cowboy Channel Cowboy Christmas at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Masks will be required to enter either event, although proof of vaccination will not be necessary.
“It’s not been unknown to the public that there was a mask mandate for the entire state of Nevada,” PRCA CEO Tom Glause told Cowboy State Daily. “So in that regard, it’s not that surprising.”
While Glause said the organization had hoped the governor of Nevada might relax the mandate in time for the event, he said officials are glad the rules are not tighter.
“We’re thankful that it’s no more restrictive, and that there’s not a vaccination mandate, or a testing policy in place,” he said.
The Wrangler NFR showcases the top 15 contestants in the nation in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding. Last year, the event was held in Arlington, Texas, where public health restrictions were not as tight, although there were some mandates in place.
“We obviously had to work through these issues last year at the NFR in Arlington, Texas, with a testing policy for contestants and a mask mandate there as well,” Glause said. “But Las Vegas thought it was important to let the fans know, because there were rumors out there that it may be more restrictive.”
Clark County, Nevada, which includes Las Vegas, requires all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face coverings. That means that masks will also be required on the free shuttle buses that run from the 24 sponsor hotels to the Thomas & Mack Center.
“The other good news is there’s not a social distancing requirement with the mask mandate for entrance, nor is there a capacity limitation,” Glause said. Rodeo is big business in Las Vegas during the month of December.
In 2019, the last time the NFR was held in Las Vegas, more than 168,000 people attended the event over its 10 days. The National Finals Rodeo has sold out more than 330 consecutive performances in Las Vegas, according to PRCA officials.
This year’s rodeo event will run December 2-11, with the Cowboy Christmas gift show opening a day earlier.