First Posted: 8/2/2009
ARARAT Eight seconds.
It can be gone in the blink of an eye, or seem to stretch out into an eternity.
For the participants in Saturday nights bull ride at Nothing Fancy Farm, it was the latter. Eight seconds on the bull earns a score. Anything less and you get a zero for the ride. Eight seconds earns a ride in the second round and points toward the championship series.
Through bumps, bruises and breaks, its the adrenaline rush and the atmosphere that keep those riders constantly coming back for more.
Thats part of it. You have to pay the price and you know it before you start, said Justin Hawks of the pain and chance of injury. You just hope and pray youre able to come back.
Its the adrenaline rush and the fun of it, said Marc Cathey. Its just a thrill. You just bear down and give it your all. This is just a real good atmosphere around here. Its one of the better in the state.
For the past five years, Nothing Fancy Farm and Dean and Shelby Dalton have been hosting bull rides. Sometimes they trailer bulls in from other farms in the state and sometimes, like on Saturday night, they use all of their own stock.
Spectators at the event are treated to a mix of entertainment. The youngest fans, those ages 4 and 5, can participate in sheep riding and as they get older, move up through the ranks to calf riding, steer riding, amateur bull riding and finally to the main event, professional bull riding. The competitors in the professional division are those trying to make it onto the Professional Bull Riders circuit.
Over the years, the spectators change, but there are some regulars who can always be counted on to show up. Lisa Shelton and her family are just such people. They, under the leadership of the 91-year-old patriarch, have not missed a ride in two years.
Its a family event and we have fun. It feels like one of the things people used to do as family events, she said. Weve all lived here all our lives and we think a lot of Dean and Shelby.
Attending the event, which is affordable, allows spectators to give back to the local community as well. The Ararat Volunteer Fire Department provides concessions for all of the rides and gets to keep whatever profits it takes in.
One of the things that draws the family to the event is that it is a fun, safe atmosphere for children as well as entertaining for everyone.
Its exciting and the kids get to do a lot of things. The kids have a ball when they come here, she said. We dont have to worry about them.
The kids at the event range from those ready to follow in the footsteps of their cowboy and cowgirl heroes as they take on the challenge of sheep or calf riding to those just there for the entertainment. Even the kids who do not want to take their chances on the back of an animal can participate in events like a relay race for younger children. The older children can participate in a challenge to chase a calf around the arena and be the first to pull a ribbon off its tail.
Gary Bare has been to the event before but brought his grandson for the first time on Saturday.
Its fun to watch, he said. I reckon its a challenge to try to ride one. These are good bulls right here.
Those good bulls put up a fight Saturday night with many of the riders only making it a couple of seconds before being bucked off.
Cathey was one of the lucky ones, staying on Slammer long enough to earn a score and for the crowd to work up a big roar of approval. Cathey, at the age of 37, is one of the older riders and enjoys his role of helping the younger riders to improve. He has been riding since 1993.
The riders prepare themselves in different ways before they climb into the chute and position themselves on the back of just over 1,000 pounds of bull.
Keep to the fundamentals, stay focused and go to work, said Hawks, who has been riding since 2003, of his pre-ride thoughts.
Hawks one day hopes to be a world champion bull rider and practices every chance he gets whether its at Nothing Fancy, at his uncles farm or even on a barrel rigged like a bull. He lives in Mount Airy, so the trip to this bull ride is not a long one, but he has traveled as far as Ohio and Florida to ride. Along the way, he has the support of his family.
Its always nice to be able to stay close to the house, he said. My wife barrel races so we kind of rodeo together.
For R.C. Dalton, a love of bull riding came about by coincidence. He always wanted to try bull fighting or bull riding when one day, he got his chance.
I went to a small rodeo with my friends and they didnt have enough riders. My friend said heres your chance, said Dalton. I didnt know if I would be riding a horse or a bull. I thought I was riding a horse so I was sitting up. I got pretty messed up. Ive been hooked ever since.
He says the support of his family keeps him going back for more.
If not for my wife and kids, I wouldnt be here, he said. My little boys, they ride sheep and cows, they say Daddys their hero. They want to be like Daddy. That inspires me to keep riding.
Nothing Fancy Farm will have its final bull ride of the summer on Aug. 29 beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.