Seward to host high octane bull riding

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Rodeo announcer Fred Huffman promises a good mix of finesse and chaos at the Kick N Dust Bull Riding Challenge at the Seward County Fairgrounds July 31.

“Fans can expect these bulls to be ridden and not always beat the riders,” Huffman said. “They want to see good rides, but they also will get to see the train wrecks that happen from time to time.”

The bull ride is an open format. Riders of all caliber are welcome to compete for the chance to take home prize money. Huffman said he expects between 30 to 50 riders from several states that weekend. Some will bring professional circuit experience while others may arrive to see how they measure up.

“The big thing is, this is an open bull riding challenge and we encourage our local cowboys in the area and the adjoining counties to come out, too,” he said. “That gives them a chance to ride in front of family and friends and that makes a great atmosphere.”

Entries will be taken up until the week of the event.

Huffman said the riders won't be the only participants with national circuit experience. The bulls, provided by Woodbine, Iowa-based Rafter K Bulls, have been featured at national rodeos, including the United Rodeo Association and the Interstates Rodeo Association finals. Breeder Tom Kelley has also put bulls on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Professional Bull Riding circuits.

“We'll have some monsters,” Huffman said.

Kelley, who has raised bulls for 12 years, said he will hand-select a pen of bulls that will provide a challenge to the riders. He said most bulls consistently score in the 80 to 90 range, out of 100, which means they are ridable but aren't easy wins.

“We'll pick a pen of bulls we think is pretty even across the board as far as the whole pen goes,” he said.

At the event, riders will draw numbers and be matched with a corresponding bull. Kelley encouraged the audience to keep an eye out for bull 573, a reserve champion in the URA two years ago. Other bulls, he said, have qualified for finals as well.

“The riders that qualify for the finals get to vote on the pen of bulls to be used,” he said. “The bull riders will get together and decide which ones they'll use so they have the best of the best.”

Kelley said the bulls are seasoned and ready to go but will get some extra practice leading up to the event to make sure they're in prime condition.

“I've been bucking them here at home,” he said. “We practice at home and have maybe five to six guys get on a couple. That helps the bulls. The more you get on them, the better they stay in shape.”

The combination of accomplished riders and experienced bulls is sure to create an unforgettable atmosphere, Huffman said.

“These open bull ridings and state-sanctioned rodeo associations, you're looking at a lot of upcoming stars,” he said. “Some of the top cowboys and cowgirls have started in the open sanctioned circuit and climbed up the ladder and made some of the top competitions.”

He added that this will also be the first sanctioned rodeo event in Seward in nearly 20 years and expects it to bring bull riding back to the area with a bang.

“Hopefully this turns into an annual thing,” he said. “The times I've been down here, the community interest I've heard is that they can't get any more excited than they are.”

Huffman said that the ride is possible because of generous sponsors that include Akers Equipment, Nebraska Harvest Equipment, Herpolsheimers Dodge, Cross n Sons Trailer Sales and Service, Ofe-Schmidt Trucking and the Cobblestone Inn.

Huffman said he encouraged anyone looking for a fun evening to check out the bull ride on the condition they're ready for non-stop action.

“It'll be action-packed,” he said. “This will be fast and furious, bull after bull.”

The bull ride kicks off at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the gate. To register to ride, contact Kelley at (712) 592-2493.

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