It's time to make reservations for the annual Reno Rodeo, which this year will be a 10-day event running from June 18-27. The rodeo, a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned event, offers the fourth-richest purse on the tour, according to the event Web site, www.renorodeo.com. In an effort encompassing some 350 volunteers and paid workers, the non-profit Reno Rodeo creates and annual regional economic impact of about $40 million, organizers said.
The event has been televised on CBS Sports, Fox Sports Net, Versus and numerous ESPN affiliates, and about 120,000 fans are expected to watch firsthand as some of the sport's best athletes compete in bareback riding, steer wrestling, saddle bronc, team roping, tie-down roping, mutton busting, barrel racing and, of course, bull riding. Reno will also host the PRCA's World's Greatest Roper event, with at least $84,000 up for grabs. There will also be many other attractions, including carnival rides, livestock exhibits and the Miss Reno Rodeo competition.
It's easy enough for visitors to get in on the action. While Reno hotels near the event tend to fill up early, the Reno-Sparks area is hardly the sleepy cowtown it was when the rodeo began, so you shouldn't have much trouble finding a room if you're willing to drive 10 or 15 minutes to the venue.
So, first things first: Reno Rodeo tickets are available at www.renorodeo.com, via Tickets.com (800) 225-2277. Tickets range in price from $12 to $25 based on seating and performance date. The actual event, though, will be held at Reno Livestock Events Center, 1350 N. Wells Ave.
Parking can be tricky, and it might be better to park off-site and walk in. If you bypass the paid parking areas to look for your own spot in the surrounding neighborhood, be very careful about where you park, as officers from the nearby University of Nevada are sure to be on high alert. Another note: Police have been known to close certain entrances and exits to Interstate 80 to keep rodeo traffic from jamming the freeway, so allow yourself extra time if you do decide to drive.
During the rodeo, most Western-themed businesses in the area, authentic or not, become temporary cowboy hotspots. A few key stops are listed below. As with all large public events, things can get sketchy as the days go on and people get tired and cranky, so be aware of your surroundings, and try to be respectful of any "real" cowboys you might meet. The Reno Rodeo attracts many people who live on remote ranches hundreds of miles from the nearest town, and some have different sensibilities than your average city dweller. To be blunt: There are a lot of fistfights during rodeo week, so pay attention.
Shepler's Western Wear, 255 E. Plum Lane (inside Shopper's Square mall): A branch of the popular chain, this place has attracted genuine ranchers for decades. There are also some 40 other stores here, including the excellent bakery My Favorite Muffin and Pasta Mill, where you can feed a family on the cheap.
Wells Avenue: From Interstate 80, head south down Wells Avenue (away from the Livestock Events Center) and within a few miles you will start seeing Latino grocery stores, small taco shops and independent Western wear outlets, not to mention an Asian gift shop and other hidden treasures. A great neighborhood to check out for lunch, but not a good place to park overnight.
Mustangs, 2500 E. Second St. (inside the Grand Sierra Resort): This casino floor country bar is a shameless Coyote Ugly knockoff in all the right ways. Expect some serious line dancing and whiskey drinking if you go during the rodeo.
There are also two bars called Pure Country, one at 1300 E. Plumb Lane in Reno and the other at 1955 Oddie Blvd. in neighboring Sparks. As near as we can tell, they are not associated with one another, but they do both provide leather slappin' tunes and will likely be out of control during the rodeo.
Article written by Matt Farley. Farley is a Nevada native who has worked for the Reno Gazette-Journal and Nevada Magazine and been syndicated by The Associated Press, Gannett News Service and the Las Vegas Review Journal.