During the NFR, the bright lights of Las Vegas shine on cowboys.

151211 nfr105NFR fans watch the dancing fountains in front of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino.

Story and photos by Ross Hecox

“Are you in that…rodeo thing?” asked the guy on the elevator. As he looked me up and down, noting my boots, button-down shirt and black cowboy hat, I figured he was wondering if I had been competing at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo here in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“No, I’m just here, covering the event,” I said.

“Well cool, man.”

NFR roper Jade Corkill tightens his cinch before riding in the grand entry.NFR roper Jade Corkill tightens his cinch before riding in the grand entry.

However far removed from the Western lifestyle a person might be, it’s easy to tell when the “rodeo thing” hits Las Vegas for 10 days every December. Cowboy hats show up everywhere—in casinos, hotel lobbies, taxi cabs and nightclubs. I even notice more hats in the airports as I make my way to Vegas.

And you see all kinds of styles. Sharply creased felt hats. Crumpled up Toby Keith straw hats. Wide, flat buckaroo brims and tall-crowned taco hats. Lids decorated with huge feathers, flowers and furry creatures. One time I saw a guy wearing his hat backwards, and I don’t know if that was a mistake or some cool fashion statement, like wearing your ballcap with the bill rotated behind your head.

Cowboy hats made their appearance at blackjack tables in the Monte Carlo casino.Cowboy hats made their appearance at blackjack tables in the Monte Carlo casino.

Whatever the style or shape, it’s always fun to come to Las Vegas during the NFR. Hats are all over the place, and they seem to have as much character and creativity as the neon lights illuminating the streets.

Randy Brown performs to a crowd of two-steppers in Mandalay Bay.Randy Brown performs to a crowd of two-steppers in Mandalay Bay.

Cowboys visit the Western Horseman booth in the Las Vegas Convention Center.Cowboys visit Baxter Black at the Western Horseman booth in the Las Vegas Convention Center.

A customer shops for a lid in the JW Brooks Custom Hat booth.A customer shops for a lid in the JW Brooks Custom Hat booth.

 

 

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