Heart Vegas of the NFR NFR Icons
VEGAS NFR ICONS Trevor Brazile, Charmayne James and Ty Murray to be honored as Vegas NFR ICONS
26-time PRCA World Champion √ 11-time PRCA World Champion √ 9-time PRCA World Champion √ ProRodeo Hall of Fame √ NFR Vegas Icon √
n 2022, Las Vegas Events will begin to honor the best of the best in Wrangler National Finals Rodeo® history. In NFR history, there have been 10 five-time champions, 5 six-time champions, 6 seven-time champions, and 9 eight-time champions, but the inaugural class of Vegas NFR ICONS features legends who have won nine, 11 and 26 world titles respectively. Ty Murray, Charmayne James and Trevor Brazile will be honored during separate ceremonies as part of the first three Wrangler NFR performances this year. Each has earned a banner with his or
her name on it, which will be lifted to the rafters of Thomas & Mack Center where from hereon will be displayed at every NFR performance. “Las Vegas Events is committed to honoring the history and legacy of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo® in Las Vegas,” says LVE President, Pat Christenson. “Since 1985, Las Vegas has crowned more than 320 World Champions. Winning one world title makes a career. Winning more than nine is iconic. The history and legacy of the Wrangler NFR is driven by its great champions. This year we will begin to honor the most decorated contestants of the past 36 years.” Brazile (26), James (11) and Murray (9) have combined for 46 PRCA World Championships and 15 NFR average titles. For Murray, the honor Is special. “Boy, a banner, that’s a special thing,”
PHOTOS: BRAZILE, PRCA ; JAMES & MURRAY, ADAM SHANE.
BY BRIAN HURLBURT
YETI Junior Heart of the NFR World Finals The YETI Junior World Finals show off and prepare the next generation of rodeo stars
Las Vegas Events officials continue to work with the producers of each event, this year. which include ProRodeo Hall of Fame steer He added that fans can expect some chanwrestler Ote Berry and two-time world ges to the Junior World Finals in the near champion barrel racer Kelly Kaminski, leafuture, but no matter what happens the ding up to the Junior World Finals. The profocus of the event will be on the contestants. ducers hold qualifiers across the country “Our goal is to keep as many youth involthroughout the year to determine which ved with rodeo as we can,” he says. contestants will compete in Vegas. It’s a spotlight on the young ropers Once again, both the Cowboy Channel and and riders that current PRCA World Saddlebook will have a significant presence Champion steer wrestler Tyler Waguespack at the Junior World Finals. appreciates. “The Cowboy Channel will again feature “Kids get to come to Vegas and have their live-streaming on the front of the pay line, entire families with them for support,” but it will be free,” Gardner explained. “Last Waguespack says. “The finals puts them on year we averaged about 11,000 downloads a a heck of a stage and it helps them get the day. And the number contimomentum rolling for whenues to grow because peonever they’re ready to step Info: NFRexperience.com/ ple are watching the Junior up to a bigger stage.” JuniorWorldFinals
World Finals reruns.” Saddlebook, an online company that records contestants’ scores and times at various rodeos, including the Junior World Finals, has been an integral part of the rodeo the past few years and that should be the case again
Heart of the NFR
are priceless.” when they see the kids.” The Golden Circle of Champions began in While Tonascia credits, among others, Las 2016 as part of the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Vegas Events and the Professional Rodeo to bring awareness to children battling lifeCowboys Association for bringing the Golden -threatening cancer. Since then, the Golden Circle of Champions to the NFR, she is quick Circle of Champions has expanded to the to point out the contestants are the main reaWrangler NFR, with this year’s event set for son the event has such a powerful impact. Sunday, Dec. 4, at the Tuscany Hotel in Las Vegas. But the friendships last throughout the NFR and beyond. Twenty children and their families from rodeos around the country and Las Vegas will be honored at this year’s NFR, where they will have lunch with NFR cowboys and cowgirls, take part in rodeo activities with their assigned “champions” and attend that night’s fourth performance of the rodeo. Ten of the kids and families will be from --Tina Tonascia, Founder, Golden Circle of Champions the Las Vegas area, while the others will be representing 10 rodeo committees from across the country. “We bring this to the NFR, but it’s those Tonascia and her team have worked clocowboys and cowgirls who give their hearts sely with Jeff Gordon, the president and to this program,” she says. “I know when CEO of the Nevada Childhood Cancer they walk away after meeting the kids, it’s Foundation, and his team, to identify the life changing for them. We were going to children who will get to experience the have the athletes inspire the kids, but it’s “Western Way of Life” for the day. The kids also had the opposite effect: the kids have not only get to spend time with the coninspired the athletes.” testants, but they are also presented with The most inspiring byproduct of the NFR champion buckles from Montana Golden Circle of Champions event are the Silversmiths, a Resistol hat that has been long-lasting friendships that are created. autographed by every NFR contestant, in “It was all started to help bring awareaddition to gear from Wrangler, Boot Barn ness to pediatric cancer and to give these and Justin Boots. kids one day where they don’t have to think Another cool element is what happens about doctors,” Tonascia says. “I feel like during the Wrangler NFR performance we’ve accomplished that goal and we’ve also when fans welcome them to the arena and provided a resource of companionship and wish them well. support to these families. What’s really neat “We give each kid a sign that reads, ‘My is the long-term relationships that have Champion is …,’” Tonascia says. “So, you can developed between these kids and their always spot them in the arena on Sunday families and the contestants. You can’t put night. We urge fans to give a price tag on those bonds and a wave or a word of support those relationships.” Info:
“When we started this program, it was with the intention of helping these kids and their families and giving them the experience of a lifetime.”
Miss Rodeo America
A GRAND JOURNEY
It was a long wait for 2022 Miss Rodeo America Hailey Frederiksen, but she finally got her ride (and crown)
newly-crowned Miss Rodeo America will never forget her initial goosebump-inducing journey around the fabled Thomas & Mack Center during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo ® Grand Entry. Even if the specifics are difficult to remember, given the magnitude of the moment … It was no different for 2022 Miss Rodeo America, Hailey Frederiksen, who was inspired, humbled and excited by her gallop into the NFR’s bright lights. “My life was forever changed when my name was called during the pageant at South Point and that moment began a series of whirlwind events and emotions,” Frederiksen said during a break at an NFR promotional event at Resorts World. “Riding through the tunnel of the Thomas & Mack Center for the first time was amazing, but I don't remember much because it happened so quickly. Still to this day, I look back and try to remember that incredible moment. I can't wait to ride in every single round later this year.” Frederiksen is a first-generation college graduate from Colorado State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Animal Sciences with a minor in Agricultural Business. Following her reign as Miss Rodeo America, she plans to obtain a masters in Agricultural Communications and use her ambition and passion to continue her work as an #agvocate. She also enjoys riding horses, barrel racing, breakaway roping and dancing. Like the journey NFR competitors must endure to successfully qualify for the rodeo in Las Vegas, the road to becoming Miss Rodeo America is competitive and daunting. Even more so for Frederiksen due to events beyond her control.
“A lot of people only see the eight days of the actual pageant, but there is so much more preparation that is needed to be successful,” Frederiksen said. “For me, I had already spent almost two and a half years of my life dedicating myself to the preparation of the Miss Rodeo America. The 2020 pageant was canceled due to the Covid19 pandemic and I was crowned Miss Rodeo Colorado in 2019. Without hesitation, I agreed to continue as Miss Rodeo Colorado for an extra year. There is a lot of hard work, tears, blood and sweat that goes into those eight days, but it is worth all of it.” Frederiksen accomplished her goal of becoming Miss Rodeo America and performing her duties and representing the Miss Rodeo America organization at the highest level have been her main focus. “Excellence is where the rubber meets the road and achieving excellence means your hard work has finally paid off,” Frederiksen said. “I have obtained an amazing goal and will use this platform for the better, but there's so much more excellence I want to achieve after this. I look forward to the rest of my time as Miss Rodeo America, but I am also looking way further beyond that. I can't wait to see what God has in store for me next in terms of excellence.” Visit MissRodeoAmerica.com for all details for the 2022 pageant, which is Nov. 27-Dec. 4 at South Point.
PHOTO: ADAM SHANE.
BY BRIAN HURLBURT
Thomas & Mack
the level of act is going to new levels. “We are creating one of our best lineups of entertainers for the opening ceremonies,” says Bo Gardner, vice president of corporate marketing, Las Vegas Events. “Cowboy Revival is the new sponsor for the opening act and this year we will feature a quality lineup. I think that our fans will notice a big change. And the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is still a major sponsor for the national anthem. Fans will see some new faces as well as some familiar ones singing the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’” Adds Christenson: “This year there will be more that we integrate into the opening artists and the national anthem. And there will be more use of our video board during both of those.” Not all of the changes at the Thomas & Mack Center will be noticeable to the fans, however. Those back-of-house changes have been designed to benefit the contestants, the stock contractors and others responsible for the production of the NFR. “We’re making a lot of cosmetic changes at the Thomas & Mack to improve the facility for all of those people,” Gardner says. “We know that these contestants go to some of these new venues with state-of-the-art facilities and the NFR is the Super Bowl of rodeo, so some of our direction this year is to improve the back-of-house foundations for the production side of things.” It all adds up to a one-of-a-kind experience for any rodeo fan lucky enough to be at the Thomas & Mack Center for the 2022 NFR. “With all that is available for fans before, during and after the rodeo, you can’t find any other city in the country that will support an event as well as Las Vegas supports the NFR,” Gardner says. But let’s not forget the electricity generated within the Thomas & Mack Center during the actual rodeo. More than 2,000 tons of dirt and over 700 animals transform
the Thomas & Mack Center into the world’s premier rodeo venue. NFR contestants continually rave about the sight lines and intimacy of the arena. The fans are right on top of the action and they feel it. “The Thomas & Mack Center is awesome,” says Caleb Smidt, the 2022 PRCA Tie-Down Roping World Champion. “It is a place that seems like everybody is sitting on top of you. It is like you’re in a little dungeon and
“The whole experience in and around the Thomas & Mack Center has been designed for the fans.” Pat Christenson, President, Las Vegas Events
everybody is up above you. Every time you walk in there for the first round, it is like a new feeling that we haven’t experienced all year. The fans are awesome and they are loud. If they don’t get you excited at this rodeo, you probably shouldn’t rodeo.” From the barrels to the bulls and everything in between, the starts are short and the arena walls are close. That all adds up to fast-paced action during every event. “Here in Las Vegas, it’s a short start and we have to go superfast at the barrier,” says Tyler Waguespack, the 2022 PRCA Steer Wrestling World Champion. “Trevor Brazile said it the best. ‘It’s a marathon that you have to sprint 10 nights in a row.’ Every time we back in the box, we have to keep our foot on the gas and keep it going.” Waguespack’s analogy could also be used for fans looking to make the most out of their time inside and out of the historic Thomas & Mack Center.
Season Ticket Spotlight
SEASON TICKET SPOTLIGHT: THE ROSSER FAMILY
Everyone knows the name Cotton Rosser. He will be missed in 2022 | but family, friends will carry on tradition BY BRIAN HURLBURT
hen the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo® rolls into the Thomas & Mack Center in December, things won’t be quite the same because Cotton Rosser won’t be around. Rosser, a rodeo production legend who oversaw the Flying U Company, “tipped his hat” for the last time June 22, 2022. He will be missed, but his legend will live on through the annual NFR production. He inspired so many and loved attending the NFR with his wife, Karin, and his large family of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Cotton purchased Flying U shortly after an accident in 1956 ended his competitive rodeo career. Pretty much ever since, Cotton and his family have worked to make the Flying U one of the most successful stock contracting firms in professional rodeo and he was known for his outstanding rodeo productions, including the flamboyant opening ceremonies presented at the National Finals Rodeo, the Houston Livestock Show and the Grand National Rodeo in San Francisco just to name a few. Cotton was also a key player behind the NFR’s move from Oklahoma City to Las Vegas in 1985. “Cotton was always a huge supporter of rodeo and the competitors, but he also knew the fans were the ones that made it all possible,” Karin Rosser says. “He believed what they had accomplished in Oklahoma City had run its course and Las Vegas was
ready to step up and raise the purse and help in other ways. He loved Las Vegas, Las Vegas Events and what they have done for the NFR.” The Rosser family have been season ticket holders since day one and attended each night of the rodeo for decades. In the early days, Cotton purchased 80 tickets, a huge investment when the rodeo in Vegas wasn’t a sure bet. “It is such a special time and rodeo, and we loved to watch and appreciate the quality and commitment of all of the competitors who made it to the NFR and were in the top 15 in their certain events,” Karin says. Cotton’s celebration of life in July was attended by 2,000 people and broadcast by The Cowboy Channel. Those who spoke at the event included Steve Hearst, vice president and general manager of Hearst Western Properties; Randy Bernard, former CEO of Professional Bull Riders and current co-manager of Garth Brooks; Sen. Shannon Grove; and Katharine and Reno Rosser with remarks from Lee, Cindy and Brian Rosser; and Pat Christenson, president, Las Vegas Events. “Cotton’s name is iconic along with Willy, Waylon, Garth, Ty and Trevor,” Christenson says. “When you say the name Cotton, everyone in rodeo knows who you are talking about. That term ‘show’ became synonymous with the NFR and that started in 1985 with Cotton. He was our P.T. Barnum.”