For the first time in almost 50 years, there won’t be a State Fair Rodeo. Instead, the bulls are going solo. The rodeo has been replaced by a two-night performance of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Xtreme Bulls Tour, which begins tonight at the Jim Norick State Fair Arena.
Some of the PRCA’s best bull riders and best bulls will be butting heads (hopefully not literally, although some fans do come for the wrecks). Bull riding is the only event in rodeo that can stand alone and attract enough paying fans to make it profitable. It began with the Lazy E Arena’s Bullnanza, considered the granddaddy of big-time bull riding. Bullnanza, the first held in 1989, was mass-marketed and began drawing huge crowds beyond just traditional rodeo fans. Since then, bull riding has evolved into the Professional Bull Riders tour and last season’s nine-stop top level of the Xtreme Bulls tour in the PRCA. Since the birth of the PBR and PRCA’s Xtreme bulls tour, the popularity of bull riding has soared. The profits have skyrocketed, and breeding bulls has become a very big business. "It’s made the bulls worth a lot more money because there is a lot more venues where they can go,” said Bennie Beutler, owner and general manager of Beutler and Son Rodeo Company in Elk City, of the additional bull riding events.