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Articles from 2020 In September


Cowboy Christmas moves to Texas this year

Group W Productions is excited to be bringing its piece of Las Vegas to Texas during the National Finals Rodeo in December.

The first location is the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards.The Stockyards is the Official destination for the Nightly NFR Gold Buckle Ceremony, Restaurants, Clubs and Live Entertainment. It is also the home of The Cowboy Channel and RFD TV, which are exclusively carrying The NFR live nightly to millions of homes. Over 300 exhibitors will be on hand Dec. 3-12 in the Historic Ft. Worth Stockyards.

The second location is the Will Rogers Memorial Center, home to the legendary Ft. Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. It also plays host to the NCHA Futurity Championships. The Will Rogers complex offers easy public access, great parking and plenty of space for our MEGA Western Lifestyle Shopping events. Aside from hundreds of western lifestyle exhibitors, other popular attractions will include The Roper Stage with free entertainment, The World Championship Dummy Roping, the Indoor MATTRESS FIRM Arena will host Live Bullfighting from American Bullfighters Assn, Horsemanship demonstrations and even a Ranch Horse Sale.

For exhibit information for these events email us at [email protected]

COVID-19 heightens risk

With so many employers trimming work forces in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, many terminated individuals will be taking positions with competing firms. Employers may be tempted to overlook the terms of restrictive covenants so their terminated workers can earn a living. Doing so, however, may jeopardize the employer’s future profitability.

“Employers who choose not to seek enforcement of restrictive covenants during this time should understand that failure to do so may hinder later enforcement,” cautions Joon Hwang, Shareholder in the Tysons Corner, Va., office of Littler Mendelson, P.C., the nation’s largest law firm defending employers in labor and employment disputes. He points out that future employees who breach restrictive covenants may assert a waiver argument—that the employer’s prior forbearance proves a lack of legitimate business interest to support enforcement of the agreements.

There is a solution to this conundrum. Hwang suggests employers take steps to minimize the risk their well-meaning inaction may have by memorializing their justification for not seeking to enforce the restrictive covenants. Legitimate reasons might include:

  • A lack of resources necessary to enforce the agreements due to the impact the pandemic has had on the employer's business
  • A decline in business from certain clients, or their bankruptcy
  • Model records of former employees for whom restrictive covenants have been unenforced, including the fact that the individuals returned all confidential information and agreed not to solicit customers serviced

Hwang offers another tip: “It would be helpful for employers to explicitly state that the decision not to enforce at this time should not be interpreted as a waiver of any future right to enforce the restrictive covenants against other former employees.”

Employee poaching: Avoid litigation, loss of trade secrets when workers jump ship

Charlottesville, Va., Awards $103K Contract to GBB

 

A California sales executive who jumped ship for a competing employer took along a folder of customer lists and marketing plans. Those items proved valuable resources for the conduct of his new duties—so valuable that his previous employer sued for violation of confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements, and illegal use of trade secrets. The results were costly cash settlements against the executive as well as the new employer who had encouraged use of stolen material.

If that story sounds familiar, it’s no accident. Similar cases occur regularly around the country. Conflicts that arise when a star employee moves from one business to another are often resolved in court.

“This area of law is growing quickly,” says Ben Mathis, an Atlanta attorney and managing partner of the nationwide law firm of Freeman Mathis & Gary. “There are two competing interests at stake. The first is that of employers who have a right to protect their information from having people walk off and take it all with them. The second is that of the individual’s right to compete against his earlier employer.”

Resolving those competing interests can hit profits hard. “Court remedies usually involve financial damages for harm that had been done to the original employer,” says Theodore J. St. Antoine, Degan Professor Emeritus of Law, University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor. “There may also be an injunction prohibiting the losing party from continuing an illegal practice. If the losing party ignores the injunction and continues to do the prohibited activity, the result may be additional fines for contempt of court, or even jail time in extreme cases.”

Restrictive covenants

The moral of all this is clear: Businesses must take steps to ensure they do not lose valuable information when employees leave for competing firms. At the same time, employers need to protect themselves from costly lawsuits when poaching top performers from competitors.

Protecting business interests has become more important with recent changes in the work environment. The employment relationship is less stable than in the past, high level talent is in demand and recruiting is aggressive. Intellectual property—easily carried between companies—is more valuable than ever before. Customer information, pricing data, business plans, and proprietary marketing strategies are all at risk.

Businesses looking to negotiate this rocky terrain have a valuable tool at their command: restrictive covenants. These written agreements can keep departing employees from competing against former employers, soliciting the same customers or employees, or using a former employer’s sensitive information for their own ends.

“Most employers have confidential, proprietary, or sensitive information,” says Joon Hwang, Shareholder in the Tysons Corner, Va., office of Littler Mendelson, P.C., the nation’s largest law firm defending employers in labor and employment disputes. “Or they may have certain employees with desirable skills, experience, training, or intimate knowledge considered integral and invaluable to their businesses. Restrictive covenants, drafted properly, can be a powerful tool for protecting all of this valuable information.”

There are two sides to the trade secret coin. Incoming personnel must also be quizzed about any restrictive covenants signed at their former employer. And they must be prohibited from bringing along customer lists, marketing plans, financial records, confidential information, or anything else that might be determined to be the former employer’s property.

Non-competes

The most powerful restrictive covenant prohibits the employee from accepting employment at a competitor. Called “covenants not to compete,” or “non-competes,” these agreements specify a period of time for the prohibition and  a geographic area where the prohibition applies. They usually also prohibit the individual from serving as an independent contractor for, or having any ownership interest in, a competitive organization.

“I generally do counsel my clients to have non-competes, certainly with their higher-level employees,” says Jeffrey A. Dretler, a partner at Rubin and Rudman, Boston. “I think it's a very important and effective tool for protecting company confidential information and relationships in which they have invested.”

So far so good. But employers need to be wary of a not-so-secret vulnerability of these covenants: The possibility they will be deemed invalid by a court of law. That’s because such covenants raise concerns about limiting the capacity of employees to earn their livelihoods.

Employers can help improve the enforceability of their non-competes by ensuring the terms balance the concerns of the employer with the reasonable interests of the employees. “The wider the covenant goes geographically, and the longer the term of the restriction, the less likely the court will uphold it as reasonable,” cautions St. Antoine. An example of a very reasonable covenant would be one that calls for a one-year moratorium on working for a competitor, within the radius of one mile of the original employer.

State laws

Achieving the right balance is a tricky proposition, not only because each employer-employee relationship poses unique circumstances but also because no federal law provides a common nationwide playing field. Everything depends on state law, and that can differ substantially.

“Fifty states have fifty permutations of what employers can lawfully restrict with written agreements,” says Mathis. “Many states allow restrictions for reasonable periods from six months to two years. Some states are more employee friendly than others. In California, employers generally cannot have any kind of restrictions.”

The challenge is becoming greater because in many states the law is trending toward greater worker protections. “The world is changing very rapidly,” says Dretler. “States are trending toward limiting non-competes. Many federal, state, and local initiatives, legislation, and news commentaries are asking whether there should be limits put on them. Are they anti-competitive? What's really protectable? There's a lot of litigation about these issues.”

Employers, then, need to avoid over-reach that can backfire when an unfavorable court decision removes the protections that were thought secure. “Another reason to avoid overreach is because it may reduce the employer’s credibility with the court when seeking to enforce the non-competes that really matter,” adds Dretler. And he notes one more potential pitfall of unreasonable non-competes: Some valuable prospective employees may decide not to join a company out of fear they will be bound by a too-onerous non-compete when the time comes to leave.

Non-solicits

As the above comments suggest, non-competes can backfire when they fail to hold up to a court challenge. Very often that means an employee who has jumped ship is free to conduct business without any restrictions. And that can leave the former employer in a bad competitive position.

There is a solution to this problem, and it comes in the form of another restrictive covenant. Often referred to as “non-solicits,” these covenants are designed to keep an employee who moves to a new business from soliciting a former employer’s customers for a set period of time.

“An agreement not to solicit customers is often easier to defend than a covenant not to compete,” says Joseph Y. Ahmad, a founding partner in the Houston law firm of Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing. “That’s because it is narrower in scope, allowing the employee to work for a competitor.” Courts like the fact that these agreements preserve the ability of the individual to continue to earn a livelihood while protecting the rights of the former employer.

What if a former customer tracks down the departed employee at his or her new employer? Even then the terms of the non-solicit agreement usually hold. “The employee has to say ‘no, I can't help you’ and the former customer needs to contact another employee,” says Ahmad. “Occasionally one can go further than that and actually specifically direct them to a person who can help them. But the safest thing is to not give the previous customer much direction at all.”

Again, though, employers need to be careful about over-reach that can void the agreements. Not only should the terms specify a reasonable time limit, but they should also avoid prohibiting the solicitation of all customers served by the current employer.

“There usually needs to be some relationship between the employee and the customers, in terms of previous interactions,” cautions Ahmad. “The exception would be if you could argue, for example, that the employee had confidential information about your margins on certain products and that information can be leveraged at any customer. You can often make that argument work.”

There’s another kind of non-solicit. Often called an “anti-raiding provision,” this one keeps departing employees from luring co-workers to the new employer. “I don't know of anything that triggers litigation more than a high level employee leaving a company, and then is suspected of being the Pied Piper and causing a bunch of other employees to leave,” says Ahmad. “Many times that gets articulated as some type of raiding claim, even though not every state has protections specifically for that.” Having a well-written non-solicit of employees, he adds, can help protect against this situation.

Confidentiality agreements

As the comments so far suggest, sometimes the old adage “less is more” can be a smart business posture: Employers may get more value from less restrictive covenants. Just as a non-solicit may be more effective than a non-compete, one more less onerous restrictive covenant—the confidentiality agreement—can in some circumstances be the most effective of all.

“A confidentiality or non-disclosure provision prevents the departing employees from disclosing or using the proprietary or confidential information of their ex-employers, or that of their employers’ customers,” says Hwang. After defining the nature of the organization’s sensitive information, the agreements state that the signers will take measures to keep it secret. “The information in dispute does not have to be a ‘trade secret’, but must simply be confidential, proprietary, or not publicly available.”

Because the legal system of every state recognizes the right of businesses to protect their sensitive information, confidentiality agreements are generally highly defensible in court. Attorneys advise that they be signed by any employee who has access to sensitive business information. They provide valuable evidence that an employer has taken steps to communicate the importance of discretion to employees.

Luring star performers

Now for the other side of the coin. Employers need to be careful about violating a competing business’s restrictive covenants when luring away a star performer. The legal fees and time required to defend one’s actions can be costly, even when a court strikes down the first employer’s covenants as unreasonable. “Some employers draft restrictive covenants knowing they will not be enforceable but will scare people into behaving as desired,” warns Mathis. “Employers with deep pockets can cause a lot of trouble.”

Attorneys advise taking some prudent precautions during the hiring process. Ask what agreements the employee has signed with his current employer. The individual who never signed a non-compete might have signed an agreement not to solicit the certain customers or to recruit coworkers.

“When a new employee is hired it's a good idea to get a verification or agreement the individual is not taking confidential information from somewhere else,” says Ahmad. “And also that that employee is not subject to a restrictive covenant that they have not made the new employer aware of.”

When determining the risk involved in poaching, employers also need to examine their conscience: If the goal is not to attract a skilled employee but to cripple a competitor by grabbing trade secrets, hiring the individual can be actionable in court.

"You may simply see a very talented person performing for another firm and you think you can give that individual a better deal," says St. Antoine. "That won't give rise to a cause of action. But you can be the target of litigation if you have some other element in the picture, such as an effort to get insider information."

Employers should also avoid tarnishing the picture by spreading false and damaging information about the employee’s current company. “If an employer falsely tells a coveted person that his current employer is going out of business, that is ‘trade libel,’ a special form of ‘libel and slander,’” says St. Antoine.

Changing laws

Non-competes, non-solicits and confidentiality agreements form a three-legged stool of defense for employers looking to protect valuable business information. But restrictive covenants must balance the needs of the employer with those of the employee. At the same time, employers must periodically review such agreements to ensure they continue to comply with state laws that are becoming more protective of workers by imposing new and tighter restrictions on what employers can prevent them from doing.

“The viability and enforceability of a company’s restrictive covenants, particularly non-competes, are more likely to be the subject of rigorous review today than in the past,” says Hwang. “To ensure enforceability when it counts, employers should review the scope and terms of such documents to ensure they are sufficiently and narrowly defined to meet their legitimate business interests.” 

Georgia Boot renews partnership with 4-H through 2023

NELSONVILLE, Ohio (Sept. 21, 2020) – Georgia Boot, America’s hardest-working boot for more than 80 years, is extending its partnership with 4-H by creating promotional programs that directly benefit 4-H clubs in local communities and nationally through 2023. For more than 100 years, 4-H, the nation’s largest youth development organization, has changed the lives of millions of young people through hands-on learning experiences that help build life skills like confidence, creativity, leadership and resiliency.

Beginning this year through 2023, Georgia Boot will offer promotions with select retail partners and via GeorgiaBoot.com with a portion of all sales from those promotions benefitting local and national 4-H programs. Following a fall launch with a few select retailers, Georgia Boot will begin identifying retail partners for a larger, national program in 2021.

The program gives Georgia Boot customers the unique opportunity to support youth mentorship, research and community projects for the next generation of leaders in their own communities.

“4-H is a strong and proud organization dedicated to creating opportunity for young people while improving lives and communities across the country,” said Melissa Lewis, marketing manager for Georgia Boot. “After a successful launch to our partnership in 2019, we’re excited to expand our role and to provide a simple pathway for our loyal customers to support these essential 4-H programs.”

Through its network of over 100 public universities, 4-H’s research-backed programs reach young people through school and community clubs, in-school and after-school programs and 4-H camps. The life-changing 4-H experience is delivered by 3,500 4‑H professionals and 500,000 volunteers who serve every county and parish in the country. 4-H programs are peer-led, hands-on and community-focused with programming that is often customized to fit the needs of the local community.

“In 4-H, we believe in the power of young people and the key role they can play in creating a more promising and equitable future,” said Heather Elliott, Vice President of Resource Development, National 4-H Council. “Thanks to the support and partnership from organizations like Georgia Boot, we can help ensure even more young people have equal access to opportunities to reach their full potential.”

For information on ways to get involved or about the partnership, visit 4-H.org.

About Georgia Boot

For over 75 years, Georgia Boot® has been a leader in the work footwear market. Based in Nelsonville, Ohio, the company manufactures and markets quality work and outdoor footwear. The company's products are available in nearly 3,000 retail and catalog outlets. It is a division of Rocky Brands, a publicly traded company on NASDAQ® under the symbol: RCKY. For more information visit follow us on Twitter, @GeorgiaBoot, or Facebook facebook.com/GeorgiaBoot.

 

About 4-H

4-H, the nation’s largest youth development organization, grows confident young people who are empowered for life today and prepared for career tomorrow. 4-H programs empower nearly six million young people across the U.S. through experiences that develop critical life skills. 4-H is the youth development program of our nation’s Cooperative Extension System and USDA, and serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3000 local Extension offices. The research-backed 4-H experience grows young people who are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs.

Juan Antonio, Fast Back Ropes, Chacon Belts To Open Showrooms at Dallas Market Center

Dallas Market Center, the leading western and English lifestyle marketplace and home to WESA’s International Western/English Apparel & Equipment Markets and AETA International Trade Shows beginning in 2021, announces that Juan Antonio, Fast Back Ropes, and Chacon Belts will open permanent showrooms inside its growing western and English marketplace.

“We are thrilled to welcome Juan Antonio, Fast Back Ropes, and Chacon Belts to Dallas this fall,” said Cindy Morris, president and CEO of Dallas Market Center. “These three companies, representing both western fashion and performance accessories, help up us continue to build momentum as the world’s largest and most comprehensive western and English marketplace.”

Juan Antonio Cerrillo, founder of the Juan Antonio handbag collection, creates contemporary yet classic bags that befit both urban and western settings. Each is one-of-a-kind, handcrafted by skilled artisans from the finest leathers. Having exhibited at Dallas Market Center for many years now, Cerrillo says he’s excited to lay down roots come October 1 on the 14th floor in showroom 14399.

“We’ve had great success in our temp space at the Dallas Market Center and look forward to joining the other amazing western brands in our new permanent home on the 14th floor,” Cerrillo said. “What an incredible opportunity to introduce our beautiful, handmade bags to new buyers and connect with longtime customers and deepen our partnership to Dallas.”

Chacon Belts and Buckles, opening its new showroom November 1 in space 14828, is an artisan collection that combines premium leathers with sterling silver and semi-precious stones in designs of Southwest elegance. Hand-cast and -finished, products from Chacon get better with age.

“’Chacon’ is a family owned business located in the mountains of Northern New Mexico,” says Bruce Erickson, owner of Chacon Belts and Buckles. “It was founded in 1972 with the notion that high quality was important. In 1986 we expanded into producing sterling silver buckle sets to go with the belts. With the help of good friends, we make everything here in the USA. We try our best to produce good products, provide good service and we enjoy the friendships we've made along the way. We thank our great customers and the vendors who have made our business viable. We are looking forward to showing at the Dallas Market Center.”

Also opening on November 1, Fast Back Ropes will debut in space 14977. The company was created with a single mission in mind: to build the best rope on the market. Through the invaluable feedback from ropers nationwide and rigorous testing, Fast Back has developed optimal ropes for every climate and humidity situation, offering something to suit every roper.

“This new showroom allows us to connect with loyal customers and expand our reach to a whole new set of buyers,” said Coy Upchurch, General Manager of Fast Back Ropes. “We look forward to partnering with Dallas Market Center to showcase our time-tested, quality ropes and equipment alongside a strong western community.” 

Dallas Market Center features hundreds of western and English lifestyle brands serving retail buyers from across the U.S. and internationally. In fact, no other marketplace in the world attracts more buyers seeking western, English, and equestrian-inspired products, including retailers broadening their merchandise mix.

January 2021 marks the debut of the world’s largest marketplace for Western and English products with WESA’s International Western/English Apparel & Equipment Market (January 14-17) and the AETA International Trade Show (January 14-17).

This summer Dallas Market Center held successful trade events for western buyers as well as apparel and accessories, gift and home. The events featured more brands and attracted more quality buyers than any other wholesale trade event in the United States. With strict health and safety measures in place, buyers were able to safely and comfortably discover new resources and place orders across the marketplace.

About Dallas Market Center

Dallas Market Center is a global business-to-business trade center and the leading wholesale marketplace in North America connecting retailers and interior designers with top manufacturers in home décor, furniture, gifts, lighting and fashion. Inside its dynamic, five million square foot campus, nearly 200,000 customers from all 50 states and 85 countries seek industry trends, business education and new products from exhibitors throughout the year via dominant trade events for gift, home décor, holiday and floral; the nation’s most comprehensive apparel and accessories markets featuring the latest styles from East Coast and West Coast designers; the largest residential lighting trade event in North America; and the largest and most successful open-daily design center. The marketplace is located in the strongest economic zone in the country. In addition, more than 80 percent of Dallas Market Center buyers report that they do not shop other market centers. To make plans for upcoming markets, visit the Dallas Market Center website and download the Dallas Market Center and Lightovation Apps. Also, keep up-to-date on all information by visiting Dallas Market Center on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the Dallas Market Center blog.

About WESA and the International Western/English Apparel & Equipment Markets

The Western & English Sales Association (WESA) was organized in 1921 and its founders launched an initial trade show in Denver in January 1922, with the goal of creating a forum where retailers, manufacturers, and sales representatives could conduct business in an atmosphere of fair trade and fellowship. Today, WESA is more than 900 members strong and produces the International Western/English Apparel & Equipment Markets, the world’s largest trade events for the Equestrian Industry, attracting a constantly growing global audience. WESA Markets are regarded as the single-sourcing entity for more than 1,300 product lines, bringing more than 4,500 retailers to the WESA Markets each year. WESA also serves as a source for information and education for retailers and exhibitors, bringing soil business and lifestyle expertise to the trade, through Market seminars and demonstrations. wesatradeshow.com

National Western Stock Show postponed until January 2022

The Western Stock Show Association (WSSA) board of directors together with the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) management, has made the decision to postpone the 115th National Western Stock Show by one year and to resume the event in January 2022. 

The COVID-19 pandemic does not allow for the show to host the annual event and comply with the health and safety guidelines that are necessary to protect Coloradans and help stop the spread. More importantly, the projected environment through to the end of the year is too uncertain and therefore not reassuring enough to allow a traditional Stock Show to take place without potentially compromising the health and safety of exhibitors, visitors, and the public at large. 

“The decision to postpone the 2021 show is incredibly difficult for our Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, business partners and the City and County of Denver,” stated Doug Jones, Chairman of the WSSA, “but the iconic western events and traditions we all know and love will be back in 2022, stronger than ever,” added Jones. 

“Over the past several months, we reviewed and exhausted every option possible to host our event including a modified show with reduced capacity,” said Paul Andrews, President and CEO of the NWSS. “Ultimately, the health and safety of our guests, exhibitors, volunteers, and staff is of top priority and the NWSS and the City of Denver could not find a path forward to have Stock Show and comply with the rules that govern gatherings of our size and rules of social distancing,” said Andrews.  

Show management made the early decision due to the intense planning and expenses that go into the NWSS. “We needed to make sure we announced early enough so all the livestock producers, contestants, competitors, and exhibitors do not incur time and cost they can’t recover,” stated Andrews, “and as an indoor event in the heart of winter, we had to consider the virus could be spread more easily indoors, potentially compromising the safety and health of thousands of people. The responsible decision was to postpone the show.”  

Every January, the NWSS hosts the super bowl of livestock shows along with professional rodeo competition and horse shows that are celebrated globally. The trade show is the largest western trade show in Colorado with nearly 900 booth spaces throughout the 90-acre grounds. The Stock Show draws over 700,000 attendees during the 16 days in January with record days seeing over 65,000 guests on site. The NWSS drives an economic impact of nearly 120 million dollars in January alone. The show supports 4-H and FFA partnerships that span more than a century and supports over 100 students annually studying in the fields of agriculture and rural medicine at dozens of colleges throughout Colorado and Wyoming. 

Wrangler NFR 2020 moves to Texas

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The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) is moving to Texas in December 2020. Arlington’s Globe Life Field, home of the Texas Rangers, will host the Wrangler NFR 2020 – the first non-baseball event at this extraordinary park. Event organizers confirmed the event will comply with all health and safety protocols for attendees. Wrangler NFR 2020 will take place December 3 through December 12, 2020 and fans can follow official PRCA updates throughout the event at www.prorodeo.com.

“We are so pleased to be at this amazing stadium for the most celebrated event on the rodeo calendar,” said George Taylor, chief executive officer of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). “We are committed to delivering a spectacular event for our fans and we are thrilled to be in Texas for it.”

“We are excited for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo to take place this year at Globe Life Field,” said Allen Montgomery, Vice President General Manager, Wrangler Western Wear. “The health and safety of the fans, cowboys and cowgirls is of the highest priority, and we are grateful to the participating organizations for their work to put together a comprehensive plan that will allow everyone to enjoy a safe and fun event.”

“We are honored that the PRCA selected Globe Life Field to host the 2020 Wrangler Nationals Final Rodeo and are thrilled to be a small part of bringing this world-class event back to Texas,” said Neil Leibman, chief operating officer of the Texas Rangers. Globe Life Field officials have emphasized that recommended health and safety standards are being met. Safety measures will include a mask requirement at all times while inside Globe Life Field and there will be additional hand washing and sanitizing stations throughout the building.

Seats will be sold in groups of four with separation between groups. Contact-limiting measures, such as mobile tickets, have been implemented throughout the event. There will also be metal detector screenings and a no bag policy at entries on performance nights. Globe Life Field is encouraging all guests to check the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services websites for any guideline changes prior to the event.

The Arlington and Fort Worth convention and visitors’ bureaus and sports commissions are rolling out the welcome for this one-of-a-kind event and both cities have worked hard to bring the Wrangler NFR to Globe Life Field.

“From cattle drives, museums and even the names of our professional sporting teams, our love of cowboy culture runs deep here in Tarrant County,” Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said. “I can think of no better choice for the Super Bowl of rodeo than to be hosted here in the heart of North Texas. Arlington and Fort Worth have so many family friendly attractions and rich experiences to offer rodeo fans who will be traveling from across the country to cheer on these professional cowboys as they strive to set new records and achieve their American Dream in the arena.”

Nearby Fort Worth will also play host to the Wrangler NFR 2020 experience, as the annual PRCA Convention will be held November 30 to December 3, 2020, in addition to the Cowboy Christmas and a slew of other fan-favorite events.

“We are a rodeo city and we’ve roped a big one,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said. “The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is an incredible win for our region and another example of how Fort Worth can host major events safely during this unprecedented time. This summer, Fort Worth has hosted major, national events in golf, racing and bull riding. Sporting events like the Wrangler NFR are a vital part of our visitor economy that creates jobs and supports our recovery.”

The NFR was born in Texas and the first three years of the event were held at the Dallas State Fairgrounds beginning in 1959. Years later, the event moved to Las Vegas and has been staged at the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV in Las Vegas since 1985. That venue is not available for live entertainment with fans this year due to coronavirus restrictions in Nevada.

In a survey earlier this summer, rodeo fans said overwhelmingly that they wanted an NFR venue that would accommodate fans.

“Part of what makes Globe Life Field work for us is the ability to bring in fans and deliver the full NFR experience,” Taylor said.

Organizers pledge to preserve the NFR experience that fans love and that has necessitated a one-year move out of Las Vegas.

The PRCA began looking for an alternate venue earlier in the summer. The State of Texas, the Texas Rangers and Globe Life Field stepped up. Ultimately, this has been a thoughtful partnership between Texas, Globe Life Field, the cities of Arlington and Fort Worth, the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau, Visit Fort Worth, and the Sports Commissions of both Arlington and Fort Worth.

“The State of Texas knows how to do this,” Taylor said. “We’ve been impressed with how well this has come together for our rodeo cowboys and rodeo fans.”

The Wrangler NFR is a 10-day event that includes the fan-favorite Cowboy Christmas as well as the PRCA National Convention. The schedule also includes nightly Buckle Presentations, Benny Binion’s World Famous Wrangler NFR Bucking Horse Sale, the PRCA Awards Banquet and Gala and the Pro Rodeo League of Women Style Show and Luncheon.

Tickets for Wrangler NFR 2020 will go on sale to the public September 25, 2020 via texasrangers.com/NFR. Wrangler NFR Season Ticket holders will be invited to purchase tickets early beginning September 16, 2020. Wrangler NFR events and the PRCA awards ceremonies will be broadcast on the PRCA media partner, The Cowboy Channel. The PRCA on Cowboy Channel Plus app users will also be able to stream events both live and recorded.

The Cowboy Channel is the official media partner for the PRCA and Wrangler NFR 2020. Cowboy Channel will host a more detailed discussion of their broadcast plans at their offices tonight, September 9, at 7 p.m. (Central Time) at their Fort Worth studio. The Cowboy Channel is located at 130 East Exchange Avenue, Fort Worth.

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The PRCA, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., is recognized as the unsurpassed leader in sanctioning the sport of professional rodeo. The PRCA's mission is to unify membership in providing an innovative fan experience, to grow the sport of professional rodeo and provide new expanded opportunities for our membership and sponsors. Since 1986, the PRCA has paid out more than $1 billion in prize money to its contestants. The PRCA offers the best cowboys and the best rodeos; delivering the best fan experience while positively impacting our communities and embracing the spirit of the West. A membership-based organization, the PRCA sanctioned 732 events in 2019, and there are more than 40 million rodeo fans in the U.S. The PRCA televises the sport's premier events, with the world-renowned Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on The Cowboy Channel and RFD-TV and streaming on the PRCA on Cowboy Channel Plus App. The PRORODEO® Tour and RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo also air on The Cowboy Channel and RFD-TV, and the PRCA on Cowboy Channel Plus App. PRCA-sanctioned rodeos donate more than $40 million to local and national charities every year. For comprehensive coverage of the cowboy sport, read ProRodeo Sports News, the official publication of the PRCA, and make sure to check out the digital edition of PSN. The digital PSN and daily updates of news and results can be found on the PRCA's official website, www.prorodeo.com.

Pioneering research identifies key reason for equine pregnancy loss

Shutterstock horse

Research from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in the U.K. has demonstrated that a chromosomal defect is the reason why a significant proportion of horse pregnancies fail within the first two months of development, according to an announcement from RVC.

The findings could pave the way for new diagnostic tests for what could be one of the most common causes of pregnancy loss in mares, RVC said.

Pregnancy loss is a notoriously difficult condition for veterinary surgeons to manage, as the underlying cause is often unknown. In this pioneering study, RVC researchers determined aneuploid pregnancies — which is when a copy of a whole chromosome is either duplicated or lost (similar to Down’s Syndrome screened for in human pregnancy) — to be a key cause of equine pregnancy loss.

The researchers, led by Dr. Mandi de Mestre, reader in reproductive immunology and head of the equine pregnancy laboratory at RVC, collaborated with seven different veterinary practices to gain access to samples from across the U.K. and Ireland and found that around 20% of the pregnancies lost were aneuploid.

Charlotte Shilton, a doctoral student at RVC who performed the analysis, applied three different genetic approaches to confirm the results.

Further study is now underway to identify the underlying cause of these aneuploid pregnancies, with early data from this study suggesting that it is most commonly introduced via the egg or sperm. Until now, chromosomal defects such as aneuploidy have only been reported as a rare condition in young horses with developmental disorders, RVC said.

RVC noted that this study explains why the condition is so rare in horses — with most embryos and fetuses possessing this genetic change dying very early in development — as is also observed in human pregnancy. The study highlights the need to reconsider this genetic condition both in pregnancy loss but also for early developmental disorders, RVC said.

“Early pregnancy loss remains a very frustrating condition for clinicians to treat as the underlying cause is unknown in around 80% of cases. These findings will allow researchers to develop new diagnostic tests for pregnancy losses, which would offer hope to thousands of owners of breeding mares that suffer this condition," de Mestre said.

“A diagnostic test would allow them to make informed decisions on treatment strategies and to advise on whether they should invest in further attempts to breed their mare benefiting both horses and their breeders alike in the future. I would like to thank both the Thoroughbred Breeders Assn. and our collaborators at Texas A&M University and the participating veterinary surgeons for their support on this project," she added.

James Crabtree, independent veterinary consultant in equine reproduction and stud medicine at Equine Reproductive Services, said, “This has been an important study to be involved in as the cause of pregnancy failure in any given mare is often without diagnosis and we have to make assumptions in order to best treat and manage our patients after pregnancy failure.”

The full paper is available at Nature (Scientific Reports).