Las Vegas Sun

November 14, 2018

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Helldorado Days brings out the Old West in downtown

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Justin M. Bowen

Mutton busting was the first event Thursday as the 75th annual Las Vegas Helldorado Days got underway in downtown Las Vegas. The festival will run through Sunday.

75th Helldorado Days

Mayor Oscar Goodman and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority showgirls address rodeo-goers Thursday as the 75th annual Las Vegas Helldorado Days begin in downtown Las Vegas. The festival runs through Sunday. Launch slideshow »

Helldorado Days events

Friday, May 15

  • Whiskerino Contest Finale, 4:45 p.m.
  • Carnival, 5 p.m.-midnight
  • PRCA Rodeo, 7-9 p.m.
  • John Encino Band, 8 to 11 p.m.
  • T.J. Weaver Band, 8 to 11 p.m.

Saturday, May 16

  • Helldorado Texas Hold 'em Poker Tournament, 9 a.m.
  • Dunkin' Donuts Donut-Eating Contest Finale, 5 p.m.
  • Parade, 7 to 9 p.m.
  • Fireworks Show, 9 p.m.
  • Carnival, noon-midnight
  • PRCA Rodeo, 9-11 p.m.
  • John Encino Band, 8 to 11 p.m.
  • T.J. Weaver Band, 8 to 11 p.m.

Sunday, May 17

  • Carnival, noon-11 p.m.
  • PRCA Rodeo, 7-9 p.m.
  • Hazard County Rebels, 8 to 11 p.m.

Beyond the Sun

The Old West is alive again in downtown Las Vegas with the return of the 75th Annual Helldorado Days Celebration.

The four-day event got underway with the locals’ and children’s night Thursday with carnival rides, barrel racing, bull riding, mutton busting and dress-the-calf events.

The empty lot off Stewart Avenue between Las Vegas Boulevard and Mesquite Avenue has been turned into the Downtown Rodeo Arena.

It’s the site of the return of the first Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo at the festival since 1997.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks created the festival in 1934 to keep tourists visiting the downtown area when the construction of the Hoover Dam was nearing completion. The rodeo was added in 1944 and continued until the entire celebration was put on hold for financial reasons in 1997.

Helldorado Days returned in 2005 without the rodeo -- which was absent until this year.

“Can you imagine any other city in the world having an arena, a real arena, with real horses and bulls and everything else that takes place in a rodeo right down in the middle of the city,” Mayor Oscar Goodman said. “There are certain events that galvanize a city, that make us feel like we’re part of something important. And this is one of them.”

John and Delia Panici of Las Vegas brought their daughter-in-law and four of their grandchildren to watch the children's rodeo events. John Panici grew up on a ranch in California with the animals and cowboy lifestyle and wanted his grandchildren to see a little of what it was like, he said.

“They don’t have any experience with it at all so they get to see something they don’t normally see,” he said.

Delia Panci added that it’s a fun night out with the family.

Nine-year-old Adina Moraga rode the mechanical bull and had a few tips for intrepid buckaroos.

“It was really jiggly. You really have to hold on tight and bend your elbow,” she said.

Other events this weekend include the “Whiskerino” contest Friday and the donut eating contest finals, poker tournament, parade and fireworks on Saturday.

The concerts on Fremont Street and carnival run throughout the celebration.

Tickets are $12.50 for adults and $6.50 for children 12 and under.

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