LOVINGTON, N.M. – The Lea County Fair and Rodeo has become known as a place that draws the very best contestants in ProRodeo.
It’s about to get even better.
Forty of the top bull riders in the country will take part in the inaugural Lea County Xtreme Bulls, set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, at Jake McClure Arena. Money earned in Lovington that night will count toward the Xtreme Bulls standings and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s bull riding world standings and a chance to qualify for the 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“I think it’s a good thing that Lovington’s having an Xtreme Bulls, because last year with just the rodeo pen, it was a good rodeo and an important rodeo because it was part of the tour,” said Jacob O’Mara, a 2011 NFR qualifier from Prairieville, La. “What a better way to make it even bigger than to throw an Xtreme Bulls in there. I think you can draw even more of a crowd, and I think you’re going to see even more of the top bull riders.
“I think it’ll be a great turnout all the way around.”
The main factor for the Lea County Fair Board was offering another entertainment package for fairgoers.
“We’ve been trying to work on this for some time,” said Greg Massey, chairman of the rodeo committee. “We thought it was an event that would go well with our fair and rodeo. We think the people in this area would really enjoy it. Xtreme Bulls is a high-energy event that people in this area would turn out for.
“With the price of our fair and rodeo being just $6 for admission, we felt like it was an outstanding event we could give to a family for a very affordable price.”
That it is. More than half the field of entrants have qualified for the NFR, including three world champions, Shane Proctor of Grand Coulee, Wash. (2011), Wesley Silcox of Payson, Utah (2007) and J.W. Harris of Mullin, Texas(2008-10). Also scheduled to compete are the top four cowboys in the world standings: No. 1 Cody Teel, Kountze, Texas; No. 2 Cody Samora, Cortez, Colo.; No. 3 Kanin Asay, Powell, Wyo.; and No. 4 Trey Benton III, Rock Island, Texas.
“What’s big is you get a chance to ride for a lot of money,” said Cody Whitney, a three-time NFR qualifier from Sayre, Okla. “If you do good and you win, it’s going to pay close to $15,000. Not only do you want to win that kind of money, but it shoots you far enough in the standings so that you can take a deep breath and relax; you don’t have to stress so much about making the finals.
“I think it’s good for Lovington because not only will it help their numbers in bull riding contestants, but it will really help their crowd grow for the Xtreme Bulls and the rodeo, too.”
It looks to be a win-win for contestants and fans. In fact, the Lea County Xtreme Bulls will be featured on the nationally televised package on Great American County network. The program is scheduled to air the first time at 8 p.m. Mountain time Tuesday, Sept. 11.
“We wanted to give the people something more to see,” said Dean Jackson, the fair board chairman. “We’re always trying to update our venue, and everybody loves the bull riding.”