Long before casinos and A-list residencies, Las Vegas was a dusty desert town in the Wild West. The city celebrates that bygone era this weekend with festivities that include plenty of cowboys and horses during Las Vegas Days on Friday and Saturday.
The Western-theme activities hark back to the city’s early years before the arrival of legalized casinos in the early 1930s, which heralded the beginning of the gambling era.
Visitors can enjoy plenty of action – all of it free – during a rodeo 5 to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights. The events include bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling and saddle bronc riding. Winners share a $40,000 purse.
The rodeo will be held at the new Core Arena at the Plaza Hotel-Casino at the west end of Fremont Street.
Saturday morning will mark the 85th anniversary of Las Vegas’ Helldorado Parade, first held in 1934, which features equestrian groups and Western-theme floats along with car clubs and marching bands. The parade begins at 10 a.m., moving along Fourth Street between Ogden and Gass avenues.
While many reminders of the Wild West have disappeared, horseback riding is still common on streets of some neighborhoods. Hitching posts remain at some of the older strip malls.
Las Vegas hosts a number of rodeo-related events throughout the year, including the granddaddy of them all, the National Finals Rodeo held each December.