30 years 30 Favorite: How Insiders Do Las Vegas

The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is celebrating its 30th year in Las Vegas in 2014. Safe to say, in those 30 years, cowboys and cowgirls have found just about every way possible to enjoy the city.
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The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is celebrating its 30th year in Las Vegas in 2014. Safe to say, in those 30 years, cowboys and cowgirls have found just about every way possible to enjoy the city.

The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is celebrating its 30th year in Las Vegas in 2014. Safe to say, in those 30 years, cowboys and cowgirls have found just about every way possible to enjoy the city. They know the ins and the outs on and off the strip, and these Vegas regulars have routines they’ve developed over their years. Sure, they know how to have a good time with their families, but they also know how to get away from the crowds and enjoy a nice dinner off the strip, too. Whether you’re looking to take in the crowds or chat with some gold-buckle winners in a more low-key setting, here are some current and past NFR contestants’ suggestions to make the most of your time in Vegas.

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Clay Tryan

Where he stays: MGM Grand, mgmgrand.com, 702-891-1111
Favorite feast: Craftsteak at MGM Grand, craftrestaurantsinc.com, 702-891-7318
“I get the bone-in ribeye. The kids get steak and French fries and Bobbie and I can get the best food in town.”
For the kids: World Championship Dummy Roping, worldchampionshipdummyroping.com “My kids rope in it, so I clear my schedule to be there. It’s awesome to see them rope, and they have a blast.”
Sign up: Autograph sessions
“It might sound corny, but I really do like meeting everyone who comes to Vegas. It’s good to check in with my sponsors who’ve supported me for so long and it’s great to see everyone who comes by the booths.”
Bobbie stays busy: Shopping “Bobbie likes to shop when she’s there. She’s a shopaholic. She goes to every store, from the Stetson Country Christmas at the Sands and the Roper Cowboy Marketplace at Mandalay Bay to the NRS Shopping Experience at the MGM Grand and Cowboy Christmas at the Convention Center.”
Can’t forget: The Rodeo Itself, nfrexperience.com
“I love the rodeo. It’s the coolest sporting event I’ve ever been to in my life. I’ve been to playoff games in football, baseball and basketball, and even before I ever made the Finals, I just thought it was the best sporting event I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s just something you have to see.”

Shada Brazile

Where she stays: MGM Grand, mgmgrand.com, 702-891-1111
Won’t miss: Elevation Sunday facebook.com/elevationsunday
“This is where the cowboys and fans can come together and take a moment to worship God in the casino. We’ve never missed it.”
Not alone in this: World Championship Dummy Roping
“Now that we have two kiddos in it, Treston will be in the older age group this time, he’ll have his work cut out for him. Style is in the 6 & Under, and Treston will come prepared and Style might dance while she’s on stage, there’s no telling. She’s been known to do it. She’ll be entered, but whether she’s prepared or not, I don’t know. This year we’ll be there two different days because hers is on Thursday and his is Friday. In the past that’s one thing Trevor’s cleared his schedule for.”
Great cause: Pro Rodeo League of Women Style Show and Luncheon, justincowboycrisisfund.com “I’ve never missed it as long as I’ve been coming to Vegas since 1998. They do a feature on All Around Baby, and the NFR contestant’s kids model the new collection. Plus it’s a great fundraiser to be a part of.”
Where she plays: Gold Buckle Zone at MGM Nightly, mgmgrand.com/nfr
“It’s the place to be at the MGM every night. Everyone goes to hang out after the rodeo, and we get to see all our friends and meet some fans, too. All of Trevor’s world championship saddles and buckles will be on display, too. And the Trevor Brazile Wrap Up Party at the Gold Buckle Zone is Dec. 13 after Round 10, and it’s the best place to celebrate all of the new World Champs!“
Load up: NRS Shopping Experience at MGM Grand, nrsevents.com/nfr, 800-467-6746
“You can get just about everything you could ever need at the NRS Shopping Experience. There’s Relentless everything there, and all kinds of wild, fun clothes you can’t get anywhere else. Load up on everything to wear to the performance and the after parties, and get gear to take home to use on your own horses and in your own arenas.”


Erich Rogers

Where he stays: Mandalay Bay, mandalaybay.com, 702-632-7777
Take a stroll: See the Sites
“You’ve got to enjoy the casinos’ neon lights. Take a walk down the strip—that’s a huge part of what Vegas is all about.”
Gotta meet: The Fans
“Come to the autograph signings our sponsors put on, because I love seeing the fans and meeting new people. It’s great to see new faces and people who come back every year.“
Stop by: The Buckle Ceremony, southpointcasino.com, 702-796-7111
“I sure like going to the buckle ceremony at the South Point when I can get there. I’ve been there once a year. Maybe I’ll be there three or four times this year—that’s the plan.”
Food for thought: Benihanas, benihanas.com, 702-732-5334
“It’s an original Chinese/Japanese grill and it’s so good. I take my whole family when I go. You sit around the grill and they cook the food in front of you.”
Purchase power: Cowboy Christmas, nfrexperience.com
“I don’t get much time for shopping but I always wander through Cowboy Christmas on my way to signings, and there’s so much to get. I try to pick up Christmas presents and souvenirs for friends at home.”

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Bobby Mote

Where he stays: MGM Grand, mgmgrand.com, 702-891-1111
Starting the day right: MGM’s Fitness Center
“They’ve got a great fitness center and steam room. I like to start my day out with a good workout and then I sit in the steam room. It’s peace and quiet in there, and my phone isn’t ringing and I can really clear my head.”
Break time: PF Changs, pfchangs.com, 702-792-2207
“I like the food and the atmosphere, basically. It’s good, and it’s bright and it’s open and it’s not in a casino. It’s somewhere we started going a long time ago, and now we go every year for a calm lunch.“
Good eats: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, delfriscos.com, 702-796-0063
“I love a good steak dinner. I go to the Craft Steak at the MGM, too. You just can’t beat a good steak dinner when you’re in Vegas working like crazy.”
Night out: Gold Buckle Zone
“I go down there on occasion and I see lots of fans and lots of friends, too. That Gold Buckle Zone has every big name in rodeo at night, and it’s a great time.”
Mandatory stop: Buckle Ceremony
“I’ve won 24 or 25 rounds, and I get to make an appearance over at the South Point from time to time for a buckle ceremony. It means so much to stand on that stage, and the fan support is unbeatable there.”

Sherry Cervi

Where she stays: Non-casino hotel
Brazilian-Style: Fogo de Chão, fogodechao.com, 702-431-4500 “It’s got an amazing salad bar and they just bring you all the meat that you can eat. It’s a fun, different place to go.“
Showtime: O by Cirque du Soleil at the Bellagio, bellagio.com, 888-987-6667 “At the Bellagio, the O show is my favorite. But I’ve been to most of the Cirque du Soleil shows and I love them all. It’s entertaining and amazing to see what people can do with their bodies. The athleticism is something different than I see everyday. I’m around rodeo 10 months a year, and it’s great to dress up in clothes I don’t usually wear and do something different.“
Off the beaten path: Café Rio, caferio.com, 702-987-3600
“Café Rio on the college campus is off the beaten path. It really lets me decompress and have something different. It’s a fast-food Mexican chain restaurant, but it’s so good and we don’t have one in Marana. It gives me a chance to get away from a lot of the chaos of the week and relax. “
Three cheers: Silverado Steakhouse in the South Point, southpointcasino.com, 702-797-8075
“If somebody in our bunch wins a round, we go to the Silverado. It’s our treat when we win, and it’s something we all look forward to. That’s probably the place we eat the most while we’re in Vegas.“

Clay O'Brien Cooper

Where he says: Non-casino hotel, near the arena
Dinner time: Whatever sounds good “Basically the only time I have to myself is about an hour and a half in the morning and an hour and a half after the rodeo is over. That hour and a half after the rodeo, we try to go to dinner. We like the steakhouses, Italian places, even Chilis. Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, BJ’s. Occasionally we’ll go to a casino that has a good steakhouse. We try to stay away from the casinos because of the smoke and the traffic getting out.”
Big payouts: World Series of Team Roping Finale, wstroping.com “There’s so much going on at the South Point, and so much roping to watch. It seems like so many people spend their day at the South Point, and of course there’s the shopping there, too.”
Drink up: Starbucks
“I go there every morning to get a savory cup of coffee after I feed my horses. I get my wife and myself a cup of coffee and bring it back to the room, and we spend about an hour drinking our coffee before I head out to my autograph signings.”

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Kendra Santos, Editor
“If ever I get a spare hour between meetings, I go to the South Point and watch the World Series ropings. That’s where I get to see everyone. If I have an hour, I will do that because people like Leo Camarillo will call and say to come say hello, so I do.”

Chelsea Toy, Group Managing Editor
“This year I’m looking forward to slipping into the Orleans when I’ve got a spare minute to watch the World Series jackpots they’ll have there. It will be a short break from the madness, and I’ll make a point to stop at Big Al’s Oyster Bar while I’m there to get some good Creole-style seafood. That’s my one get-away plan!”

Trisha Miller, Art Director
“I try to make a walk-through of the M&M Store. I like all of the colors (and chocolate). If your inner Monet is calling, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art brings in the finest exhibitions not to be missed. I’ve never been to In-and-Out Burger, but I hear it’s great!”