Gold Card Reunion a rodeo history revival

For 10 days, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo shows off just how exciting, entertaining and colorful the sport of rodeo is. But rest assured, that’s been the case for many decades, something that will be celebrated today at the Palms, when some of rodeo’s finest from days gone by will gather to tell stories and break bread.

The Gold Card Reunion is being held for just the third time, but the second in as many years, since so many people had such an enjoyable time at last year’s event.

“We had a lot of Gold Card members asking if we were going to have it last year,” said Larry Jordan, who organizes the event. “And this year, we’ve had calls all year about it. They’re calling and saying, ‘We want to come.’ We still have a few seats, but it’s close to sold out.”

And why wouldn’t it be? With the legendary cowboy Larry Mahan and renowned country music star Reba McEntire on hand, along with many other luminaries including actor Wilford Brimley, rodeo fans get a real treat of talent, along with the lunch, of course.

“I think what most everybody likes is seeing people we haven’t seen for 30 or 40 years, then setting down and telling old stories about them,” said Jordan, who noted he’ll try to keep the storytelling a bit more compact, so that more folks can share their tales. “Last year, some of them got to telling stories for 20 to 25 minutes. This year, we’ll try to keep those a little shorter, because everybody has got a lot of stories to tell, over the course of the last 75 years.”

Brimley is back as one of the special guests. Average rodeo fans might not realize that the actor is a big supporter of the sport. Jordan said that before Brimley became an actor, he was a horseshoer at Los Alamitos race track in California.

“Wilford got to know a lot of cowboys, so he became a fan himself,” Jordan said. “And we’ve got a lot of fans from the rodeo community who have become fans of his movie career. Wilford has been one of the biggest advocates of rodeo and the American West lifestyle.”

Indeed, Jordan said Brimley, who now lives in Utah, is involved with a rodeo scholarship program in Montana. And even though Brimley is 81 years old, he was eager to make the trip to Las Vegas for this year’s reunion.

“He phoned me a couple weeks ago. He said, ‘By God, Larry, I’ll be there. I was there last year, and I’m coming back this year,'” Jordan said.

Registration starts at 10 a.m., and festivities begin at 11 a.m with a reception, followed by a noon luncheon. And the treasure trove of storytelling doesn’t end when lunch is over..

“We’ve got a whole group of world champion bullfighters coming in,” Jordan said. “They’re gonna have a panel discussion after the lunch. It’s gonna be a big visitation.”

For tickets and more information, contact Jordan at 406-223-6503.

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