WNFR kicks off competition for titles and gold buckles
Las Vegas, Nev. – The 63rd Annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) started on Dec. 2, and will continue through Dec. 11. This year the finals returned to the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev., after a one-time event in Arlington, Texas in 2020 due to COVID-19 facilities closures.
The city that never sleeps will soon be cowboy town, host to many events related to the western way of life, including Cowboy Christmas, the Yeti Junior World Finals, the WNFR Breakaway Roping and the crowing of a new Miss Rodeo America.
The official gift show of the WNFR, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, will host more than 500,000 square feet of showroom floor with over 350 exhibitors. A variety of products – jewelry, western fashion, art work, home goods, furniture, tack and more – are available for purchase. The shopping center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
In addition, attendees can enjoy a variety of interactive experiences such as the YETI Junior World Finals and the Ariat Rodeo Live Stage.
Yeti Junior World Finals
Nearly 850 contestants 19 years of age and younger will compete in a variety of events including bull riding, bareback and saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, girls breakaway roping, team roping, tie-down roping, pole pending and barrel racing.
To attend the event, the cost is $10 per person or $40 for a five-day pass for the dates of Dec. 2-6 or Dec. 7-11. Admission is based on seating availability and proceeds will become added money – extra prize money for each rodeo event. The Yeti Junior World Finals will take place at the Wrangler Rodeo Arena inside the Las Vegas Convention Center.
For more information on the Yeti Junior World Finals, visit jrrodeo.org.
Wrangler National Finals Breakaway Roping
The Wrangler National Finals Breakaway Roping (NFBR) will take place Dec. 6-7 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The top 15 breakaway ropers will compete for $200,000 in prize money during the two-day event, with 10-rounds of performance. The performances will be at 1 p.m. PST each day, with five rounds on Dec. 6 and five rounds on Dec. 7.
In addition to prize money, the NFBR champion will receive a Montana Silversmiths world champion buckle and a custom Cactus Saddlery saddle.
“The continued success and growth of breakaway roping since the NFBR in Arlington last year has made it clear that the NFBR should come to Vegas with the WNFR,” said Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association (PRCA) CEO Tom Glause.
The year 2020 marked the first year for the NFBR in Arlington. Jackie Crawford of Stephenville, Texas was crowned the first NFBR world championship. Both performances will be livestreamed free on the Wrangler Network at wranglernetwork.com.
Miss Rodeo America Pageant
The Miss Rodeo America Pageant is held in conjunction with the WNFR. Representatives from 32 states will vie for the coveted Black Hills Gold crown by competing in areas of appearance, horsemanship and personality.
This year’s pageant began on Nov. 28th and will conclude on Dec. 5th at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa.
Rachel Derner, Miss Rodeo Wyoming 2020-21, is representing the Cowboy State at the pageant. Derner was crowned during a four-day pageant in conjunction with the Wyoming State Fair on Aug. 16, 2019. Due to the global pandemic, the Miss Rodeo America Pageant was canceled in 2020, giving Derner the opportunity to reign for not one, but two years.
Several contestants will be competing from surrounding agricultural states including Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Trey Yates, of Pueblo, is the only cowboy competing from Colorado. Prior to the start of the WNFR, this heeler was sitting seventh in the world with $84,181.86 in earnings.
Stetson Jorgenson of Blackfoot, Idaho will be competing in steer wrestling. Going into the WNFR, Jorgenson was sitting number eight with $78,668.16 in the world standings.
Dirk Tavenner calls Rigby, Idaho home and will also be competing in steer wrestling. At the beginning of the WNFR, Tavenner was sitting 10th in the world with $69,048.86.
The two bull riding contestants from Idaho are Rugar Piva of Challis who is sitting 12th in the world standings with $98,267.64 and Roscoe Jarboe of New Plymouth was sitting 15th in the world standings with $95,778.20.
There will be several contestants from the Treasure State. Caleb Bennett of Corvallis, Mont. will compete in bareback riding. Bennett was sitting fourth in the world standings with $140,213.24 prior to the start of the WNFR. Richmond Champion of Stevensville, Mont. is also competing in bareback riding, and was sitting seventh in the world standings with $89,945.26.
Clay Tryan of Billings, Mont. is competing on the heading side. Prior to the start of the WNFR he was sitting fifth in the world with $94,250.33. Chase Tryan of Helena, Mont. was sitting eighth in the world prior to the start of the finals with $74,775.92 on the heeling side.
In the saddle bronc event, several contestants from Montana are competing. Chase Brooks from Deer Lodge began the WNFR in seventh place with $97,387.90, and Sage Newman from Melstone was sitting 11th in the world with $82,717.59.
Barrel Racer Molly Otto of Grand Forks, N.D. began the WNFR with $64,172.51 in earnings, sitting in the number 15 hole.
Two barrel racers from South Dakota will be competing at the WNFR. Jessica Routier from Buffalo was sitting fifth in the world standings prior to the start of the WNFR with $78,847.28, and Lisa Lockhart from Oelrichs was sitting 14th in the world standings with $65,043.71.
There will be three contestants from the Cowboy State. Cole Reiner from Buffalo came into the WNFR in eighth place in the bareback world standings with $89,215.89, and Brody Cress from Hillsdale was sitting in third place in the saddle bronc riding event with $142,224.71. Amanda Welsh of Gillette and was sitting seventh in the barrel racing prior to the start of the WNFR with $76,919.48 in prize money.
WNFR broadcast schedule and contestants
The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo will air on Cowboy Channel on Dec. 2-11 on the Dish Network channel 232 and Direct TV channel 603.
Each round will be broadcasted live from 6 -11:30 p.m. U.S. Mountain Standard Time, beginning Dec. 2 and continuing through Dec. 11. The following day, rounds will be re-aired.
A complete schedule is available at prorodeo.com and cowboychannel.com.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.