Bullish on riding | CraigDailyPress.com

Bullish on riding

Memorial weekend event expected to be bigger, better

Nearly 40 professional bull riders will compete in Craig in May during a Professional Bull Riding Discovery Tour event.

The event marks the first time professional bull riders have competed at Grand Olde West Days, a 15-year Memorial Day weekend tradition.

“It’s scary and exciting,” organizer Carol Wilson said. “We really don’t know what to expect, we’re just hoping for bigger and better.”

The Downtown Business Association, which organizes Grand Olde West Days, for several years has tried to save enough money to bring a professional bull-riding event to Craig.

Grand Olde West Days is designed to keep residents in town and give them something to do during Memorial Day weekend.

Bull riding has been part of the event for five years. But professional bull riding is expected to draw record crowds to the May 27 event, organizers say.

More crowds mean more money. A successful bull-riding event could mean bigger and better events for future Grand Olde West Days celebrations, organizers say.

The professional bull-riding association requires hosts to put up a $4,000 purse, a $2,000 deposit and guarantee that at least 25 bull riders, most of them professionals, compete.

The event is an entry-level Professional Bull Riding competition, meaning riders are new to the circuit or new to the profession.

Riders will pay $150 for their shot at prize money. It will cost spectators between $15 and $20.

“I think it will fill the grandstands,” event organizer Jackie Roberts said. “This is going to step it up a notch. People will see more rides.”

The Moffat County Fair–grounds Grandstands, with a 1,700-person capacity, haven’t been full since the first Grand Olde West Days bull-riding competition in 2001.

Wilson estimates 850 tickets were sold this year. This year, 22 riders competed in a non-professional event.

“Bull riding has always been popular,” she said. “Weather makes a big difference, but I hope that won’t make a difference this year. I hope that rain or shine, people will want to come out and see the big boys compete.”

Roberts is working to get sponsors to cover the cost of hosting the event so that the Grand Olde West Days committee can keep revenue from ticket sales. The committee will use the money to improve the three-day event, including bringing back a big-name concert.

“Getting a concert back is our next step,” Roberts said.

In the past, concerts were part of Grand Olde West Days.

Roberts said committee members are trying to get a concert next year but that it probably will be a small one.

Committee members also expect chariot races to be a bigger event nextyear, with more participants and bigger prizes.

Roberts said there also could be a bull-fighting demonstration during the bull-riding event.

Grand Olde West Days will still boast three days of activities that include a chili cook-off, craft and food vendors among activities.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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