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Championship bull riding, arenacross come to Gallup for July events

As an unaffiliated event, WildThing Championship Bull Riding can draw from the best of the best bull riders. (Courtesy WildThing Championship Bull Riding)

It’s no secret the Four Corners area was among the hardest hit in the country when the pandemic rampaged.

So Gallup, on the fringes of the Four Corners, but smack in the middle of the no-go zone, is flinging open the city gates for a couple of long-time events that were quashed a year ago.

The WildThing Championship Bullriding event Friday, July 9 and Saturday July 10, at Red Rock Park will be the first large spectator event undertaken in the area since the lockdown.

“We bring in some of best buckin’ bulls, some of them will even go to the national finals. And some of the best pro riders will be here,” said Larry Peterson, owner and promoter of the event which supports the local Manuelito Children’s Home.

What sets WildThing apart from most rodeos is that it is unaffiliated.

“We’re open bull riding, open to the world. We let in anybody to enter,” he said. “We’ll get some of the PBR, PRCA. All-Indian. We get a mix of all of it.”

Being one of the first events opening on the circuit, Peterson said his phone lit up with bull riders hankering for a spot with the 90 available slots – 45 each night – filled in a matter of hours.

Impressive fireworks shows light the night during both evenings of the WildThing Championship Bull Riding event Friday and Saturday at Gallup’s Red Rock Park. (Courtesy WildThing Championship Bull Riding)

“We’ve got guys coming in here from all different directions: Texas, Oklahoma, California, Oregon, Montana,” said Peterson, a former bull rider. “Everything has changed so much in lots of ways. I was scared if we didn’t have it this year, was it going to run you, break your back and run you. There are lots of people in lots of bad ways.”

Once he got the go-ahead, however, Peterson vowed to put on a memorable show.

“It’s hard pulling it back together, but luckily, our great sponsors all hung with us,” he said. “We decided we’re going to stick our chest out and give people the WildThing they expect. We’re going to get it on and give them some entertainment. This is the first big event that is going to happen in the area and we’re lighting them up. Let everybody get back out and have a really good time.”

Entertainment overload, Peterson said, is the objective.

“Our show is off the hook,” he said. “We have enough different entertainment so that even if you’re not into bull riding, there are enough other things going that you will have fun. The main show is the top quality riding and bulls of course.”

Each night will also feature a large fireworks extravaganza.

“We have our logo lit up in flames against the red rock wall canyon,” Peterson said. And then the pyrotechnics are shot above the rock wall. It’s really amazing.”

The Little Woolly riders, six and younger, each of whom has to qualify to participate, take center stage.

“These are the best,” Peterson said. “They spur them sheep. They sit up there and ride ’em like a bull, one-handed. The crowd just eats it up.”

Cowboy poker is a fan favorite at the WildThing Championship Bull Riding event. (Courtesy WildThing Championship Bull Riding)

Another favorite, cowboy poker is not for the faint of heart.

“Four guys sit at a card table and we turn a bull loose,” Peterson explained. “And the last man in his chair wins prizes. Man, that’s some gladiator stuff right there.”

Peterson will have a top rodeo clown to help keep people entertained and the announcer’s jokes never get stale.

“It’s electric,” Peterson said. “We beat that crowd up.”

Also at Red Rock Park later in the month, Kicker Arenacross motorcycle races and mud bog slog is set for July 16-17 for its 25th anniversary.

“It’s two separate types of disciplines coming together to make for a great show,” said promoter Todd Hammock. “The last five years, we added in mud bog trucks. The state of New Mexico really loves its off road trucks and mud bog trucks.”

More than 400 motorcycle racers aged four to 40 from across the region are expected to compete, he said.

“Red Rocks is a very scenic location,” Hammock said. “Once the sun goes down and the lights come up, there’s no better place to be to do an event. It’s cool and the beauty of the rocks and it all goes together and works great.”