By Liz Ellis, Reporter
Next weekend, more than 100 different bull riders from all over the world will gather at the Black River Coliseum to test themselves against 2,000 pound, angry bucking bulls. The annual Pro Bull Riding event has finally returned to Poplar Bluff, and things are already buzzing in the Big Orange Building.
The dirt, she continued, is the most complicated part. It has to be turned and treated and packed tight enough to support the bulls, but loose enough to cushion the fall of the cowboys. “It’s a big operation,” Berger said.
The Touring Pro Division of PBR has been to Poplar Bluff for at least the last eight years, and has become a staple in the coliseum’s schedule.
“Anybody of any age and any walk of life can come in and find something to be excited about,” Berger said. “It is man vs. animal and you can’t get more basic than that. It’s an extreme sport and a lot of people like it.”
The competition is scheduled for March 9 and 10 and starts at 7:30 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 and the event usually lasts about two hours.
Tickets come in four tiers, depending on how close to the arena the seats are. Ticket prices are: $11, $19, $25 and $34 if purchased in advance. Tickets may be purchased at the door, but the price will increase by $2.50. Advance tickets are on sale now and may be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 800-745-3000 or at the box office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
There are two deals available for advanced ticket purchases: the family four pack featuring a Friday night event with four tickets, four sodas and four pieces of pizza for a cost of $66; and the military discount which is only available for purchase in advance at the box office, and will give $5 off of the purchase of up to four tickets. The tickets are for the third price level, and ID must be provided to get the discount.
“Things are a lot more relaxed at the coliseum,” Berger said. “You can watch one of the most dangerous sports there is with a great amount of comfort. Our place is small enough that you don’t need binoculars to see what is going on—everyone is pretty close to the action.”
The competition will have a winner on Friday and a winner on Saturday. Winners will receive points and cash which will help them secure a position to compete for the international trophy in Los Angeles.
Unlike televised events, bull riders will ride one right after another out of one of the six chutes at the coliseum—so there is always something going on in the arena, be it a bull rider or a bullfighter distracting the bulls after the riders dismount.
“It is fun, and it really is a family event,” said Jenny Hillis, marketing director at Larry Hillis Dodge. “It’s good for the kids, good for the families to come out and do it together.”
LARRY HILLIS PBR PARTY
The afternoon before the Saturday bull riding event, there will be a party at Larry Hillis Dodge featuring free BBQ from Mike & Zach’s BBQ, a mechanical bull, horse rides and autographs from several of the bull riders.
“I don’t really follow bull riding, but I’ve been told that the guys who are coming are really great,” Hillis said. “We love doing things for the community, and we’re really looking forward to it.”
The event is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 10 at the Larry Hillis Dodge dealership at 3211 N. Westwood Blvd. There is no admission fee.
“We really like that it’s a family event and an event that no matter whether you follow bull riding or not, it’s fun,” Hillis said.
Liz Ellis can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 573-785-2200.