10/01/13 — Ride 'em, cowboy: Wicked Bulls at fair again tonight

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Ride 'em, cowboy: Wicked Bulls at fair again tonight

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 1, 2013 1:46 PM

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A bull rider is thrown from his mount during the Wicked Bulls bull riding competition at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair on Monday. The Garner-based company will have its bulls and riders in the grandstand arena again tonight, starting at 7 p.m.


A rodeo clown engages a bull during Dances with Bulls -- a new attraction by the Wicked Bulls company. It, too, will be held again tonight after the bull riding.

DUDLEY -- Gail Roberts of Dudley enjoys the excitement of watching the massive bulls bolt out of the gate, agitated by the tight flank belt and raring to dislodge the pesky human on their massive backs.

But Monday night, when the bull not only threw off his rider, but injured him as well, it brought out the mother in her, causing her to remember that day many years ago when her son broke his neck playing football.

Fortunately he made a full recovery.

Walking out of the grandstands Monday night at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair, she and her husband, George, were trying to find out the condition of the rider injured during the Wicked Bull riding competition.

They were relieved when told that the rider, Tripp Weaver of Florida, had suffered an injury to his leg, but was up and walking around.

"It is just scary," she said. "You always think about things like that. We come every year. We enjoy it. I don't like to see the guys get hurt, but I don't want to see the bulls get hurt either."

It is the fourth year that the Wicked Bulls show, based in Garner, has thrilled fair audiences. And this year, the show has added Dances With Bulls.

In this event freestyle cowboys, similar to the rodeo clowns, battle against each other to display their ability to handle a hard-charging bull for 60 seconds, without losing his feet.

For those who missed Monday night's show, the encore performance is tonight at 7 p.m. in the grandstand arena.

"It is exciting," Mrs. Roberts said. "I have only ever seen it on TV, so when I get to see it here it is in person and I am part of it. I hoot and holler, but they don't ever hear me. They keep telling me to get louder."

Mrs. Roberts said what is amazing is that the riders are "so skinny."

"I mean they have no padding at all," she said. "The helmets help, but it is very dangerous. It takes guts. I hate to see them get hurt.

"I always think they are going to break a bone, their leg, their head or be paralyzed. You don't ever know."

One of the riders Monday was Newport native Brandon Chambers, 25, who has been riding bulls for about eight years.

Chambers, who has lived at Princeton for about four years, said he does not have any family in area, but had friends and family in the grandstands Monday night to cheer him on.

"I went to a county fair around my home county, Carteret County. I met some buddies there and happened to meet them at the bull riding," he said. "We got to joking around and somebody said, 'I would be scared to do it.' One thing led to another, and I got on, and ended up liking it. Now, this is what I do for a living."

He was just shy of his 17th birthday when he took his first ride.

"Originally, my mama was always nervous," he said. "She didn't want me to get hurt. She was nervous and scared, but I do pretty good and can make a living out of it and they support me. They enjoy coming out and watching me and know that it is something that I love doing.

"It is such an adrenaline rush you don't even think about the dangers. It is such a rush that it is worth it. It is the biggest adrenaline rush. I have skydived, done MMA (mixed martial arts) and this bull riding is the biggest rush there is."

However, Chambers doesn't do the freestyle dancing with bull.

"I say, 'Hey, if I am on top of them, they can't get me. But if I am on the ground in front of them, they might run me over."

But even his time spent atop the bulls hasn't been without injury.

"With bull riding there is a saying, 'It's not if you will get hurt, but it is when and how bad,'" Chambers said. "On average I go to about four (shows) a week. Every weekend I go to at least two.

"I travel all over the United States. I happen to live nearby here so I came by. I was in Virginia Friday night, Benson Saturday night and I am going to Pennsylvania this weekend."

Depending on the venue, the cowboys ride for points or money. The season starts in January and runs through December.

The secret to a good ride is matching the bull's moves, he said.

"You have to wait for him to make a move, and then you have to match it in just a split second afterward after he does it," Chambers said. "It is all about being able to feel what the bull is about to do and being able to react. It is all about timing and reaction."

He agreed with Mrs. Roberts that the bull riders are not big, he said.

"A big fellow will have a tough time riding because of your center of balance on the bull, and the bigger you are, the more top-heavy you are going to be," Chambers said. "They say the perfect size is five (foot) six (inches), and 135 pounds. I am six foot, 150 pounds.

"So I am a little tall, and a little big, but I make it work for me. I ride bulls. I don't have a 9 to 5 (job). I pay the bills riding the bulls."