The stands were filled Saturday night, June 13, 2009, at the West Arena in Fyffe. More than 2,000 fans came out to the 4th Annual Bull Bash sanctioned by the Southern Extreme Bull Riding Association (SEBRA). Bull Bash 2009 was sponsored by the DeKalb Farmers Co-op.
This year’s event, the 5th Annual Bull Bash, will be held June 12 and will again be sponsored by DeKalb Farmers Co-op. The event will still be held at West Arena in Fyffe.
"There is just not enough clean, wholesome family entertainment anymore, but Ricky West and his crew have put together a great show for the entire family. You don’t have to worry about being offended or seeing things your kids don’t need to be exposed to. He has made sure to have excellent security and control of the entire evening. Ricky has done a great job on this Bull Bash and we all appreciate what he is giving to our area, county and state," said Ronny Neely, general manager of DeKalb Farmers Co-op.
Producer Rickey West worked hard to present an exciting night of bull riding full of heart-pounding action for the fans at his arena located off County Road 50.
"Ronny and everybody at the Co-op have been great helping us out over the years," West said.
West provided 28 of the 35 bucking bulls for the night’s event himself. Fred Adams of 3-A Bucking Bulls of Auburn and Heath Rodgers with High Flying Rodeo Company of Cullman bought some of their top bulls to complete the rank pen of bulls.
Several of West’s bulls have bucked in PBR (Professional Bull Riders) events. The PBR is the highest level of competition in the sport of bull riding. Only the most elite cowboy athletes and bulls compete in the PBR.
One of the bulls in the pen was F2, better known as "Easy Money."
The big nine-year-old brindle is considered by West as his best bull of all time.
"He’s never had a bad trip," West said. "We carried him to all the world bucking-bull futurities when he was three and four years old. He has always placed either tenth or higher every time. He’s got 301 outs on him and been ridden 14 times."
In fact, Easy Money is the bull that cost World Champion Bull Rider Adriano Moraes the PBR World Championship in 2004.
"All Adriano had to do was ride him to win the world and F2 threw him off," West explained.
The highest marked ride ever on Easy Money came when the popular Brazilian bull rider Renato Nunes rode him for 94.5 points at a PBR event in 2005.
"Rickey is one of the best bull men in the Southeast," said Colin McKaig, livestock coordinator for Genex Cooperative, Inc. "He does a good job putting this bull riding on; it’s good for the whole town of Fyffe."
McKaig also helps West out on his farm with the bulls.
The night kicked-off with Nashville recording artists, Buck and Duke taking the stage in the center of arena and playing great country music. The duo from Summerville, GA, brought the crowd to their feet before the bull riding even began by playing original tunes, classic country songs like Alabama’s "Dixieland Delight" and cowboy favorites like Chris LeDoux’s "Cadillac Cowboy."
"I love bull riding," said Michael Lee "Buck" Stancil of Buck and Duke. "We have played too many to count. We enjoy playing good country music to bull riding fans because they really enjoy it."
The band played for an hour, then it was time for the bull riding to begin.
"Of all the bull ridings I go to, this is my favorite because of the great crowd," said announcer Dusty Broughton of Ardmore, OK.
Among the 26 bull riders entered was Lain Hartzog, who at the time of the 2009 Bull Bash was ranked fourth in the SEBRA standings. Hartzog was only 20 years old, but has been involved with the extreme sport of bull riding since he was five years old when he started riding calves.
"I just like going and getting on bulls," Hartzog simply replied when asked what he enjoyed most about being a bull rider.
As of that date, the cowboy from Auburn had won right at $4,000 in SEBRA bull riding competitions throughout the South. Hartzog hopes to continue riding well and make it big one day as a professional bull rider.
"I would like to find a sponsor who could help me out to make it to the PBR Built Ford Tough Series," Hartzog said. "Then I want to win a world title."
Hartzog joined the other 24 bull riders in the middle of the dirt-filled arena as Buck and Duke sang the National Anthem.
When the song ended, cowboys scattered to the back-pens to find the 2,000-pound bull they had drawn for the night. While some riders were already down in the chutes tying their bull ropes onto the back of the bull they had drawn, others were stretching in preparation for the night’s wild ride against some of the country’s toughest bulls.
J.T. Stevens of Ashville turned the first qualified ride of the night when he rode High Flying Rodeo Company’s Dizzy Devil for 84 points. The 84-point score was high enough to put Stevens in first place at the end of the long-round of competition and send him back to the short-go along with seven other cowboys.
Bull fighters, Matt Baldwin and Ray Clary, helped to protect the cowboys from the burly bulls in the arena. Baldwin and Clary kept the crowd gasping as they quickly stepped in front of the fast-moving animal while the cowboy hurried for the safety of the fence.
Baldwin and Clary are two of the best bull fighters around today. They travel with CBR (Championship Bull Riding) to professional bull riding events all over the country.
"I’ve known I was going to be a bull fighter ever since I was old enough to know what it was," said Baldwin, who had been fighting bulls for 17 years.
Baldwin lives just up the road from West in the town of Sylvania.
"I come over to Rickey’s every time they buck bulls," Baldwin said. "It’s my official practice pen."
When asked about the Bull Bash, Baldwin replied, "It’s good, really good. It’s always good to come to Rickey’s."
"I just think he is going to need to get some bigger bleachers," Baldwin laughed referring to the standing-room-only crowd packing the edges of the arena.
Like Baldwin, Clary had also been a bull fighter for 17 years.
"This was my first time in this part of the country —- in Alabama," said Clary, who is from Lufkin, TX. "The people are great and really nice."
"I thought the bull riding was great," Clary added. "Had a big crowd, the bulls bucked, the guys tried hard. We had a good time; it was a great bull riding and I hope to be back here next year."
Eight bull riders came back to compete in the short-go.
Stevens came back to the short-go in first place and also with a broken left hand; his riding hand. Most people wouldn’t consider getting on a bull with a broken riding hand, but like a true cowboy, Stevens toughened up and decided to ride with his other hand.
Stevens drew one of West’s toughest bulls, Physical Education, in the short-go. Although he did not make the eight-second, Stevens showed everyone in the crowd the true meaning of the popular phrase "cowboy up."
"I broke my (left) wrist in the long-round," Stevens said. "The short-round was the first time I ever tried riding with my right hand."
Stevens went on to win the event and took home the prize of $1,800. Like most young bull riders today, Stevens, 20, also hopes to compete on the PBR’s Built Ford Tough Series one day and win the world title.
"Rickey brought real good stock, all of his bulls were jam up – 100 percent," Stevens said after the win.
Brent Drawdy of Trion, GA, helped judge the Bull Bash along with Andy Lott of Ohattchee.
"I think Rickey and Selena West put on the best bull riding I have judged in 10 years," said Drawdy, who judges about 40 bull riding events a year. "It’s a quality and classy performance from the gate people, to the sponsors, to the spectators. All of the bulls are of the highest caliber going down the road today. I’m honored to have been invited to judge such a great event."
Beginning in May on the first Monday night of each month through September, West holds a SEBRA-sanctioned event at his arena. The bull riding kicks off at 7 p.m. and afterwards West bucks his practice bulls.
Mary-Glenn Smith is a freelance writer from Snead.