The 10-day show runs Dec. 3-12. For RMEF, it’s a bold, yet calculated move designed to expose the organization and its mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage to more people from more places across the country and around the world than ever before. And it’s already working. The Cowboy Christmas/RMEF expo team effort is generating a lot of buzz in Las Vegas.
The expo features exhibitors showcasing the best in hunting, optics and other outdoor-related gear and apparel. But it is much more than that. There are antlers galore—from RMEF’s Great Elk Tour (above left) to Eastman’s Trophy Deer Tour (above right). Chevy Trucks and NRS Trailers, just to name two, are among a throng of industry leaders on hand.
Fans of the National Finals Rodeo are also flocking to the expo floor to witness a slew of events at the Wrangler Rodeo Arena. Among them are the standing-room-only Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship, miniature bucking bulls, wild pony races, mini bareback championships, and the 13 & under boys and girls tie-down and breakaway events.
Attendees can also meet, greet and tap their toes to the country music tunes of seven different performing artists. Chad Bushnell entertained fans on day one at the Cabela’s Live Stage (Booth #1220).
What better way to cap off a fast-paced first day than with Elk Camp Opening Ceremonies back at The Mirage! Members gathered to renew old friendships and form new ones. They recognized Jack Ward Thomas as the 2015 recipient of the Wallace Fennell Pate Conservationist Award, the highest honor bestowed by RMEF. They also celebrated the Tenderfoot Creek acquisition in Montana—a land protection and public access project nine years in the making– as well as other projects and accomplishments including RMEF hitting the $1 billion value in its all-time conservation efforts.
Country music star Tracy Lawrence capped off the evening by standing before behind the microphone to say, “It’s great to be in a room full of good people!” He also declared, “I got my first elk about a month ago!” (See the photo below for proof.) Lawrence and three of his bandmates entertained the scores on hand by launching into a medley of his many hits.
Following his performance, RMEF members watched a live feed of opening night of the National Finals Rodeo from across town at the Thomas and Mack Center.
Yes, day one was one to remember. Bring on day two!
|Kristy Titus, Tracy Lawrence with Tracy's first elk|