After a 26-year absence, prayer has returned to the opening ceremonies of the National Finals Rodeo. The NFR, held annually for 10 consecutive days the first week of December, is organized by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and is the largest, best-recognized rodeo finals in the United States.
The Wrangler Jeans company is the NFR's title sponsor, and the event is therefore also referred to as the WNFR. Saying a prayer during the opening ceremonies of a rodeo is a long-standing tradition in rodeos across the United States, but until its return in 2012 the NFR had not had an opening prayer since 1985.
I am the owner and webmaster of the CowboyWay.com website and was concerned about the absence of prayer at the NFR and confused by conflicting information being passed around on the Web. I wanted accurate information to pass along to visitors of her website.
I wrote the PRCA head office in Colorado Springs. I asked them if there was prayer during the opening ceremonies of the NFR. If not, I asked them the reason why and when it was dropped. I also asked them for any comments they would like to make on the subject. I received a very polite response.
The PRCA's response held good news.
The good news is, thanks to the request of the contestants, there was a prayer during each of the opening ceremonies of all ten NFR performances in 2012.
The PRCA said the contestants requested the return of prayer, and they were happy to grant their request.
The PRCA's response also held a little sad news, however.
According to the PRCA's reply to me, the last time there had been prayer during the opening ceremonies at the NFR, before its return in 2012, was back in 1985 when the NFR was still held in Oklahoma City. After 1985 the NFR moved to its current location in Las Vegas, and an opening prayer wasn't said there until 2012. That's a 26-year gap. The PRCA was quick to clarify that it was not a policy of theirs, or any of the Las Vegas event promoters, to drop prayer. They said one simply wasn't said for whatever reason.
I was at once relieved to know that prayer had returned to the opening ceremonies of the NFR rodeo performances, but also a little discouraged there was such a long absence.
My husband and I always went to the Finals when it was in Oklahoma City, but we haven't gone since it moved to Las Vegas. We didn't know prayer had been dropped until we read something about it on the Web last year. My first reaction was that the information we found had to be wrong; I mean this is prayer and rodeo. To many of us, those two things are synonymous.
Now that prayer has returned, I have good news to share. I made a page specially to share the PRCA's response with CowboyWay.com's visitors. I'm just glad it's good news I get to share.