Three Days in Reno for the BFI

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Day 1: Get into town Saturday, June 22 just in time for the Double Dollar Horse Sale, and find yourself a top prospect or a ProRodeo-caliber horse. Check into your room at the Silver Legacy Hotel and Casino, then head up the mountains for a day at North Lake Tahoe. "We always play golf then hang out at Lake Tahoe and camp," says World Champion Nick Sartain, who has the second-fastest time on one steer in the history of the BFI. At Lake Tahoe you'll find golf, biking, hiking, water sports, beaches and fishing opportunities. You're only limited by time. After a late lunch at Jason's Landing and Beachside Grille in King's Beach hop in the car and head back to Reno through Carson City. "Drive down through Washoe Valley and Carson Valley for beautiful old pristine ranching valleys," Tallman says. "But be careful, if the speed limit is 55 and you're going 56 you're getting a ticket." Do a little downtown sightseeing, and then head over to the rodeo grounds for the carnival and wiener dog races.The Reno Rodeo began in 1919 and in 1997 won the PRCA's Award for Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year. "Reno Rodeo is one of the most progressive rodeos on the planet. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger," announcer Bob Tallman says. "If you buy a ticket, you're going to watch a very impressive grand entry, there are 52 girls that ride in every performance, then you'll see a great rodeo, every world champion will be there at one point or another." Grab some carnival food before heading to the arena. After the performance, head over to the Silver Legacy Hotel and Casino for a chance to rub shoulders with the cowboys, pull the one-armed bandit or roll some dice if that's your game. Of course, be sure to check local listings for headliner acts in and around town that might catch your fancy. Country music star Scotty McCreery will perform at 8 p.m. in the Silver Legacy's Grande Exposition Hall, so catch the tail end of the concert after the rodeo performance.

Day 2: The next morning, grab some grub at Pegs Glorified Ham n Eggs. Then make your way to the rodeo grounds for the Kid's Dummy Roping, a big hit with ProRodeo cowboys and their fans alike. You'll catch Derrick Begay there signing autographs, and the competition is free for the kids. Winners receive trophy saddles sponsored by the BFI and Heel-O-Matic Training Systems. Then stick around town and take the kids to ride go-karts or play putt-putt golf. "I've got two kids, and our little girl is 4. We played a lot of putt-putt before the BFI last year," says Jake Long, who holds the record for the fastest run in BFI history with header Coleman Proctor. "And we always go to the BFI Cowboy Auction and Dinner at the Silver Legacy. It's got a great atmosphere with all of the ropers there and it's fun to watch, too." The doors for the free event in the Silver Legacy's ballroom open at 5 p.m. with the auction starting at 6. Then, don't miss the rodeo that night, and catch the Businessman Steer Decorating. Teams of two find a business to sponsor them, then one person holds the steer with a rope and the other ties a ribbon around the steer's tail. It can get a bit wild! "Obviously my favorite thing is the prestige of just the whole week in Reno," says Patrick Smith, who won the BFI in 2005 with Clay Tryan. "With the BFI and the Reno Rodeo, it's just an awesome week to team rope for a living."

Day 3: It's BFI day in Reno. You've got a long day of great roping ahead of you, so you'll need food. Hit Caf? Central in the Silvery Legacy to enjoy a chili cheese omelet bright and early. The restaurant is open 24 hours a day, which is key because you'll want to get to the Reno Livestock Center Arena around 7 a.m. to get your seats. The Grand Entry starts at 7:45 so you can see all the ropers before the event gets underway. The action starts at 8 a.m., so spend your day watching the best ropers in the country compete for thousands and thousands of dollars in prize money and awards. If you need a break from the arena-action, take a stroll around the Double R Marketplace to see what some 150 vendors have to offer for everyone in the family. While you're shopping, make your way to D Bar M Western Store, where all the ropers and their families like to shop for the latest and greatest. But don't spend too much time out of the arena. "It's just the most prestigious jackpot, and I've watched it since I was a kid," says Riley Minor, who was second in the average in 2012. "I like the set up, because it's not a 4-second roping. You've got to let the steer out a ways, and even if you draw one that really runs you're still in it because it's a six-header. If you're horse can run, it's a great jackpot." After you watch the winners get their thousands in prize money and awards, head back to the Silver Legacy and enjoy steak and seafood at Sterling's Seafood Steakhouse.