Culture / Entertainment

The Super Bowl of Rodeo Hits Arlington and Fort Worth — Your Complete Guide to the NFR and Everything That Comes With It

Cowboys and Special Events Galore, Safety Talk and $6 Million in Prize Money

BY // 12.01.20

Fort Worth loves a good rodeo, and this week kicks off one of the best. The 2020 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) is hitting town, and the festivities got underway Tuesday night, with an official welcome reception at Dickies Arena, the home of the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

Cowboys and cowgirls will be hosted in the arena, where participants will be introduced to the world and will receive their back numbers. The kickoff reception essentially starts the National Finals Rodeo and helps set the pace for the raucous 10 days of rodeo to follow. The NFR matches the year’s top competitors in each of the sanctioned events. The event is one of the most anticipated moments at the NFR before the chutes open.

“This is where it all starts,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price says. “The very best cowboys and cowgirls from this last year, along with the greatest names in rodeo will gather to kick off the 2020 NFR. We are so proud to host this event in a spectacular facility right here in the cultural center of Fort Worth. We are honored to be bringing the NFR back home this year to the real home of rodeo.”

The NFR is moving to Globe Life Field in Arlington this year in an attempt to more safely accommodate a socially distanced live audience, in the midst of the ongoing, surging coronavirus pandemic.

The selection of back numbers signifies the contestants’ qualification to the NFR. It is a rite of passage and a confirmation of their success over the past year. All the training, discipline and preparation have brought these cowboy athletes – the very best of the best – to this event.

Bull Riding at the Rodeo. Photo by Courtney Dabney.

There is a lot of excitement around the biggest event in Rodeo, and many local businesses and venues are getting in on the action. Here’s your complete guide to NFR 2020:

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PRCA Awards Banquet

On the heels of the opening reception, western finery will be on full display at Dickies Arena for the PRCA Awards Banquet this Wednesday, December 2 at 6 pm ― the night before the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo opens at Globe Life Field.

“Undoubtedly, the highlights of any rodeo are those short, few seconds of performance in the arena, but it takes a whole lot to get to that point,”  PRCA CEO George Taylor says. “We will honor the individuals and committees that make rodeo as a sport, and rodeos as events, such a great American pastime.”

The banquet will recognize the best-of-the-best contributions to the sport that have made ProRodeo great in 2020. Coffey Anderson will perform following the awards ceremony.

Venues and Cleaning Protocols

Visit Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Sports Commission, the City of Fort Worth, Fort Worth Convention Center (FWCC), Will Rogers Memorial Center (WRMC), Dickies Arena, Omni Fort Worth Hotel, Cowtown Coliseum and Stockyards Heritage Development Co. will all have a role to play in Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) activities between December 3 and 12, as well as their potential safety.

These venues will be hosting a variety of activities during the 10-day event including Christmas markets, a trade show and NFR-sanctioned competitions.  The cleaning, disinfection and sanitizing protocols put in place are stringent, according to city and Rodeo officials. This includes strict mask wearing enforcement.

“We want all NFR visitors to have a safe, enjoyable experience and feel comfortable in our city,” says Jason Sands, director of the Fort Worth Sports Commission. “Host venues, restaurants and hotels have been working diligently to make sure we are ready to safely welcome fans from across the country.”

The National Finals Rodeo — often called the Super Bowl of Rodeo with its $6 million in prize money— has already sold out the 14,500 capacity that will be allowed at Globe Life Field for every night of the r0deo. Tickets were sold in groups of four, with empty rows between the sold seats, much like the setup used during the successful World Series at the stadium.

This will be the first non-baseball event open to the public at Arlington’s new $1.2 billion showcase stadium.

Mule Alley Adds New Names

Stockyards Heritage Development and Cowtown Coliseum will host a number of activities as well, including the Cowboy Carnival, Cowboy Channel Tailgate, Hooey Fest and more.

Kimes Ranch store opens pop-up in Mule Alley.

Several pop-ups will be hosted in the Stockyards during the NFR and throughout the holiday season. Three new brands to Fort Worth will open their doors for the first time this week. Guests in town visiting Mule Alley, located in the Fort Worth Stockyards, will get a chance to attend the grand opening of Proper Supply Co. store on Thursday, attend the flagship grand opening of Kimes Ranch western wear, and check out the newly opened HBarC store, known for its glittering, novelty Western shirts.

First launched in 1987 as a tailor shop in New York, HBarC store came under new ownership years later and quickly grew into a notable apparel brand that had its clothes worn in many iconic Western movies. After taking a hiatus as a business in the late 1990s, the Western retailer relaunched in 2016 and now offers premier Western wear and cowboy shirts for women and men, classic and embroidered T-shirts, and casual headwear. HBarC is hosting its pop-up now through April.

Open through February 28, Kimes Ranch will feature its entire collection in its first-ever brick-and-mortar pop-up shop. With the brand known for its Western authenticity, Kimes Ranch owners Matt and Amanda Kimes have produced great-fitting jeans that are versatile from Western to everyday wear, as well as apparel for both men and women, including outerwear, button-up shirts, casual tees and caps. You can even “Kustomize Your Kimes,” featuring chain stitching on the brand’s signature jeans.

Proper Supply Co., a luxe Western goods store featuring Stetson, is set to open its brick and mortar location in Mule Alley later this year but will be previewing its soon-to-be-opened permanent store with a pop-up grand opening beginning this Thursday, December 3. The preview store will be located in the Mule Barn and will feature custom buckles in partnership with The Bohlin Company, as well as on-site custom Stetson hat fittings with a wide selection of styles and shapes to choose from, engraving, and made-to-order boot designs and clothing.

“Both HBarC and Kimes Ranch’s first brick-and-mortars will bring a great experience to Mule Alley, and we can’t wait for our customers to be introduced to these prominent brands in person,” says M2G Ventures co-president Jessica Miller Essl.

Lucchese – Dante full-quill ostrich style from the Hand-Stained Collection
Lucchese – Dante full-quill ostrich style from the Hand-Stained Collection.

Lucchese at Live! by Loews

Live! by Loews in Arlington, will host a limited time pop-up shop of its own in conjunction with Lucchese boot maker. The pop-up will be open daily from 2 to 11 pm on the event lawn of Arlington Clover Club, the property’s outdoor mixology lounge.

Open to both rodeo-goers and the public, visitors get exclusive shopping access to Lucchese’s coveted, hand-crafted cowboy boots, along with a selection of goods from King Ranch Saddle (both brands took up residence in Fort Worth’s Mule Alley in the past few months).

Outside of the shopping fun, the pop-up will bring a series of live music acts, including Jack Nelson BandBraxton Keith and Grace Tyler. The music will be accompanied by a full-service bar offering special pricing on Texas-inspired craft cocktails, beer and wine from Arlington Clover Club, with its stunning views of AT&T Stadium, and Globe Life Field, where this year’s NFR events will take place.

Menu highlights include a signature cocktail called My Resting Face with raspberry vodka, St. Germain, fresh lime juice and grenadine syrup, in addition to other handcrafted libations featuring Texas spirits. You can also head inside to dine at Cut & Bourbon, the property’s modern rendition of a signature steakhouse.

Views from the Clover Club at Live! by Lowes in Arlington.

B & B Butcher’s Jumps In

Clearfork’s vaunted steakhouse, B&B Butchers is celebrating the National Finals Rodeo, too. Stop in Thursdays through Saturdays during the NFR, (that’s December 3 through 5 and December 10 through 12) to enjoy live country music in the bar area, with its view of Clearfork’s Christmas Tree and thousands of twinkling lights, as well as extended dining hours until midnight.

As an added bonus, anyone with reservations at the restaurant can take advantage of Rare Force One, the restaurant’s custom Mercedes sprinter van, which will be making trips to Globe Life Field. The van will leave at approximately 4:15, 5:15, and 6:15 pm Thursdays through Saturdays, with one return ride pickup at 10 pm that brings everyone back to B&B Butchers at Clearfork.

Those who don’t have tickets to the NFR can still enjoy the rodeo finals from the bar, as B&B will be showing rodeo events all week on its TVs.

With events and venues spread between Fort Worth and Arlington, it seems that December has become the new January (the 2021 Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo has already been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns), and rodeo season is in full swing in North Texas.

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