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NGRA’s BigHorn Rodeo brings flair to the bull ring

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Bull riding, barrel racing and … steer decorating? That’s right, the Nevada Gay Rodeo Association’s annual BigHorn Rodeo is back May 9 and 10. And while the yearly Western bash includes traditional rodeo recreation—from calf roping to bareback bronc riding—gay rodeo also incorporates camp events, and some have apparently become favorites across the global International Gay Rodeo Association circuit. “It’s a great way to introduce people to the arena dirt,” says NGRA President Douglas Graff, referring to events like goat dressing, steer decorating and the wild drag race.

The NGRA’s goals haven’t changed since its inception in 1992: The organization serves, first and foremost, to produce gay rodeos to “enrich and enhance the Western lifestyle,” with a secondary mission to raise funds for worthy local charities like the Sin Sity Sisters, a nonprofit supplying medication to Valley HIV/AIDS patients. “It’s a sense of community, giving back and being part of something bigger than yourself,” says Graff, referring to a camaraderie apparent in rural communities known for rodeo culture. “When someone’s neighbor’s barn burned down, [the community] helped build a new barn,” and Graff says that mind-set translates into support for the Sisters’ AIDS drug assistance program. “Somebody needs to do it.”

Those looking for entertainment should be satisfied by the royalty competition, where cowboys and cowgirls, some in drag, show off their stuff, from lip syncing to comedy. Graff says a number of NGRA competitors have moved on to top spots in the IGRA competition. “We are Fabulous Las Vegas.”

BigHornRodeo May 9 & 10, 11 a.m., $10-$15. Horseman’s Park, 5800 E. Flamingo Road, bighornrodeo.com.

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