Dec 13, 2019
For 35 years, those fortunate enough to have tickets to any night of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo know that it’s a great scene from the seats at the Thomas & Mack Center. But rodeo veterans also know you don’t have to wait until 6:45 p.m. each night to get the party started.
The Cowboy Corral has been around since 2007, right off the southeast end of the concourse, taking over the Cox Pavilion floor. There’s a huge bar as you enter, plenty of high-top and regular tables to gather ‘round over drinks, and a big dance floor in front of an elevated stage that hosts a live country music concert every night.
On Friday night, this crowd was ready to scoot their boots, with Craig Campbell joining Andy Griggs and his band on stage. Cindy Mainus Jett and husband Rory Jett of Agra, Okla., are having a noticeably good time spinning around the dance floor.
“This is so cool. It gets you revved up and ready to go for the NFR,” Cindy said while catching her breath after a solid dose of dancing. “Drinking and dancing and hanging out with friends, it’s great.”
Rory and Cindy are right in their wheelhouse with the rodeo crowd, as Cindy is a barrel racer who has qualified for the semifinals of RFD TV’s The American three consecutive years, and Rory trains barrel horses and coaches Cindy. So the Cowboy Corral acts as somewhat of a reunion spot each year, too.
“Since we’re in rodeo, we know a lot of the people here,” Rory said. “It’s a good place to come and kind of get wound up for the rodeo. Just hanging out, having some drinks. I like it a lot. All of it!”
Joining Rory and Cindy at a table adjacent to the dance floor are their good friends, Mike and Nancy Johnson of Paola, Okla. The Johnsons have been to every Wrangler NFR since 1992, so they’re more than familiar with this pre-rodeo party venue.
“People who don’t come in here, they don’t know what they’re missing,” Nancy said.
Husband Mike perhaps put it best.
“It’s just like a country bar!”
Well, they don’t call it the Cowboy Corral for nothing.