High on a cowboy's bucket list is a trip to the National Finals Rodeo. I had kind of written it off, until Peg and Lee Isenberger said they have season tickets that they can't use all of. So last December they put my name on two of them for two nights.
Wednesday, December 13, 2023
I knew exactly who to invite, Fr. Zane Pekron, the other cowboy priest from South Dakota. For the last year we had been getting all our ducks in a row for two days in Las Vegas.
I always feel like the best way to see a new place is through the eyes of the Church. So our first stop was at the chancery to see my ole buddy Archbishop George Leo Thomas. He was the bishop who took me on as a seminarian in Montana and ordained me a deacon in the Cathedral of St. Helena. It was great to see him again. Keep up the Good work, partner.
We stayed at the Resorts World Hilton. It was a good hub for rodeo fans.
Right out the gate, we ran into Ryder Sanford from Sulphur, LA. He came on my radar this summer when he broke the saddle bronc arena record at Cheyenne Frontier Days as a rookie with a 92.5 ride. That's cowboy cool.
Chancy Williams was the opening act for our first night at the rodeo.
Impressive opening ceremonies. The NFR takes the 15 best contestants in each event who then compete in 10 days of rodeo. In the end, their is an average winner and the winner of the world for 2023.
It was fun to see all the big names. Here is the wild man Rocker Steiner in bareback.
Here's Tanner Butner from Daniel WY. He's riding strong.
Ryder Wright is still in the fight. Though his brother Stetson had to bow out because of a hamstring injury.
Hailey Kinsel and her horse Sister are always a crowd pleaser. Our seats were really good.
Because Stetson is out, Ky Hamilton is leading the world in bulls. Though the second night, he got is bell rung pretty good.
Back at the Hotel stood some of the future winnings.
The next day we toured the LV Guardian Angels Cathedral. Las Vegas was originally part of the Reno Diocese. Then they joined forces and this church became a co-cathedral. Eventually, LV just became its own diocese. Then this fall, because of the exponential growth around this area, Pope Francis named Las Vegas an archdiocese.
Our one full day in LV we spent at the Convention Center for the Cowboy Christmas. Too many vendors to get through.
Zane was able to show the Cactus Ropes rep a trick or two.
Good Catholic kid. We ran into a few Catholic Cowboys who were glad to see our priestly presence.
Other rodeo hands were hanging around as well. Tim O'Connell is a world champ bareback rider.
There were just as many good rides the second night as the first. Jayco Roper was a fun ride to watch on the world famous horse Virgil.
Shad Mayfield is as quick as they come in the tie down roping.
This was an incredible ride by Sage Kimzey to end our NFR experience. He'd like to win his 8th world title to tie the legend Donny Gay.
On to the next one.
Good time. This was a fast and furious couple of days. But Las Vegas can handle it. We saw the Catholic side of the city as well as the cowboy side. Both were beautiful. Special thanks to all who helped make this trip possible. It was the ride of a lifetime.
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