It was bucking bronco time in Statesboro during the inaugural Bulls in the Boro event at the Bulloch County Agricultural Complex last Saturday, September 17th. The arena was packed with kids and adults, all excitedly watching bull riding professionals push themselves to the limit in hopes of lasting 8 seconds or more on the mad bulls.
The two-night event was produced by L-J Pro Rodeo and sponsored by Woody Folsom Automotive and Circle F Farm.
Family fun with a side of bulls
Leading up to the event, The Saucy Shrimp, Wavee Shavee Ice, and other vendors sold their food and merch to attendees. Kids played at the family fun area, where they could hop in the bounce house, go down the slides, or even play on the mechanical bull. Families even interacted with the show bulls from a safe distance before seeing them in action in the ring.
Keeping a safe distance was to be advised; these bulls were ready to throw down at a moment’s notice. Some bulls would even react to anyone that got too close to their face by headbutting their cages.
When it came down to the actual event, the crowd was both excited and enthralled. It was three hours and three rounds, with 14 contestants all in competition to score the highest amount of points they could earn.
The rules were simple. Contestants tie a hand on the bull’s flat while sitting on the back of it. The goal is to try to last 8 seconds on the bull or at least a minimum of 7.9 seconds to get a qualifying score. The longer a contestant lasted beyond those 8 seconds, the greater the score. Additional points were also determined by how efficiently the rider rode the bull.
Every fraction of a second riding a bull mattered, making the showdowns rather intense. There were even a couple of instances of the bulls losing control after knocking off their rider and having to be corralled back into their cages.
One contestant, Josh Steel, was even injured during his turn. Steel received a leg injury after surviving 8.5 seconds on the bull, Area 51, which was a big deal for Steel after only being able to survive 7.5 seconds during Night 1 of the event. Despite his injuries, Steel managed to walk it off just fine.
For many bull riders, being injured is just part of the job.
“I’ve broken about every bone in my body,” Steel said. “It’s pretty common in bull riding. You just gotta fight through it.”
During brief intermissions, Mack Tinn, host of the event, had playful banter with clown Marshall Green. They did a myriad of comedic routines to keep the crowd entertained. One bit included Marshall “believing” he was holding a jar that could cure all diseases, even COVID, only for him to find out that it was all a scam.
During the halftime show, parents allowed their kids to gather in the arena for a race for the grand prize of winning their very own bikes. Afterward, the audience sang along with popular songs like “We Will Rock You” by Queen.
Of course, there could only be one winner of the rodeo rumble. That contestant would be Josh Stepp, scoring 89 points after riding the bull 1600 Adrenaline Rush.
“I feel pretty good, you know, just blessed to be able to keep going down the road, honestly,” Stepp said.
Stepp has been riding bulls since high school, thanks to one of his friends introducing him to the sport. After winning this event, Stepp plans on continuing the streak down in Tennessee at the 3rd Annual Tying the Knot Bullriding event this Saturday.
Check out all of our photos from the event below.
For information on upcoming riding events at the Agricultural Center, visit www.BullochAg.com.