Bull riding competition being held in Poplar Bluff today, Saturday

Friday, March 9, 2012

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- The Larry Hillis Dodge Pro Touring Division PBR comes to the Black River Coliseum today and Saturday, bringing some of the top names in bull riding. The event begins at 7:30 nightly.

The tour is one of two traveling the country. Professional bull riders enter the contests to earn cash winnings. In October, the top earners compete in the World Finals in Las Vegas.

Coliseum box office manager Subrina Berger said after scheduling the event, organizers discovered it would conflict with a similar event in South Carolina. Poplar Bluff's event filled up first though as the stop has become a popular one on the tour.

"We host some of the biggest names in the industry because they like the way they are treated at our arena," she said. "We're really building a huge name for ourselves based on the hospitality they receive in Poplar Bluff."

Arkansas natives Chase Outlaw (32nd) and Reese Cates (47th), Australian Jared Farley (43rd) and Missourian Matt Bohon (49th) will compete with other top-ranked cowboys, including Billy Robinson, Ben "the Australian" Jones and Robson "the Spider Man" Aragao. Through pbr.com, fans can follow the exploits of their favorite bull riders, as well as the bulls.

While in years past the event has used bulls from Missouri, this year PBR touring bulls will be on display. Widow Maker currently ranks in the top 100 and will be joined by Leg Show, Old School and Formula 409.

PBR clown Dusty Jenkins will return to provide comedic relief.

Coliseum director Bobby Godwin said the event draws fans from all over Southeast Missouri.

"It's a unique event in the area and it's kind of away from the rodeo in Sikeston, so I think it plays a good middle for people who like to go out and see this sort of thing," he said.

Coliseum staff have received calls from fans in Jonesboro, Ark., and even St. Louis expressing interest in the event.

Matt Hillis, general manager of Larry Hillis Dodge, said his company was contacted by Dodge for sponsorship.

"Rodeo has always been big in Southeast Missouri," he said. "We've always been sponsors of the local rodeos."

The company agreed to sponsor the PBR, and continues to do so each year.

"We've been sponsoring this event for five years and it keeps getting bigger and bigger every year, which was our goal when we started," Hillis said. "We're fortunate to be able to sponsor it, to be able to bring families together in the community."

Unlike a rodeo, the PBR consists solely of bull riding. Each night of the event is a separate contest. Berger said each rider draws a bull's name earlier in the day and spends the rest of the day preparing for the ride.

Berger said the chutes will be loaded sequentially.

"You don't have any lag time," she explained. "It's one right after the other."

Each bull rider takes his turn and at the end of the night the top cowboys ride again in hopes of further raising their scores.

Although the event lasts only two days, it's one of the most labor intensive at the coliseum.

"There isn't another event in this building that takes a week of prep and a week of cleanup," Berger said.

Truckload after truckload of dirt is shipped into the coliseum to transform the floor into a bull-worthy arena. The job is bid out each year.

"They treat the dirt because there are live animals on it, so they have to make sure the animals are protected from bacteria and infection," Berger continued. "They also have to protect the cowboys."

"There's a lot more to it than just dumping dirt in there," she added. "They'll spend all week long treating and turning the dirt."

Due to the treatment process, the walking track must be closed in the week leading up to the event.

"The exhaust fumes are horrendous and it's for everyone's health," Berger explained.

By Thursday, railings will be erected and bulls will begin arriving. Bull riders begin arriving by dawn on Friday.

The show is brought to Poplar Bluff by S&G Bucking Productions of West Plains, Mo., a rodeo production company that buys the rights to the event.

"The PBR is an event that everyone in your family will find something to enjoy, whether it's the bulls, the cowboys or simply the excitement in the air," Berger said. "It's an event we look forward to every year and we're happy to share it with the community of Poplar Bluff."

Through 5 p.m. Thursday, ticket prices range from $11 to $34 each. An additional $2.50 will be added to ticket prices the day of the event.

Discounts are also available on advance tickets. A family four pack with four upper deck tickets, four pizza slices and four sodas is $66. Military personnel with a valid ID can also receive up to $20 off multiple tickets on advance sales.

Tickets can also be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com/brc. For more information, call the coliseum box office at 573-686-8001.

Pertinent address:

Black River Coliseum, Poplar Bluff, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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