It’s an exciting time, and although I have a very small part in the National Finals when I think about those athletes and what they must be going through preparing for this major finale to their year, I, too, want to be in the right frame of mind, as healthy as I can be, and have all my writing materials, clothes, masks, and necessities ready to go.
My job since 2003 is to assist in the Gold Card Room, which is on the street level of Thomas and Mack Stadium on the UNLV campus. The Gold Card is something most senior cowboys and cowgirls of yesteryear covet because they were the ones doing all the work to make the earlier National Finals Rodeos successful in some way. They either competed or worked for PRCA in some capacity. The ProRodeo Hall of Fame is in charge of the Gold Card Room, and Kent Sturman, Director of this very special Hall, has his very stable staff, plus volunteers like me, in place to make each Gold Card member that attends feel welcome and important during the hour and 45 minutes they spend with us before the rodeo starts at 5:45 PM.
It is such a pleasure to welcome these people from across our nation that return to watch the current competitors do their very best for ten performances. While in the Gold Card Room they enjoy a buffet dinner, which is provided by a very efficient Thomas & Mack staff. Meanwhile they get a chance to see and visit with some of their old traveling pals, secretaries from the various circuits, and meet people they ‘heard about’ but never had the chance to cross paths when they were competing.
We cram a lot into that hour and 45 minutes. We offer beverages, a quiz on something that happened at a former National Finals with a chance to win a prize, and we give gifts offered by sponsors like Montana Silversmith and the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. We generally have Miss Rodeo Canada with us to help hand out these mementos. Kent lets everyone know what is happening at the Hall back in Colorado Springs, and we also ask people to become members of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, it’s the place where the history of professional rodeo is displayed and is so important to the sport.
Meanwhile I enjoy visiting with contestants from the past and present, as well as their families. I gather so much information necessary for my work as a rodeo historian during this brief ten day gathering I dare not miss it. If it weren’t for these people, and others like them that contact me during the year I could never do what I do as a historian. One of the first things that happens when you are called a ‘historian’ is you realize what you don’t know about your subject – and mine is rodeo. I learn so much and expand my rodeo world so much at this one event. I thank everyone who takes the time to talk with me, or contacts me, about the history of rodeo or about a specific cowboy or cowgirl.
Gotta run, I just thought of something else I need to pack . . . . . . . . .see you in Vegas.