LOVINGTON, N.M. – The danger and excitement that is the Xtreme Bull Tour is the perfect way to kick-start the Western action at the Lea County Fair and Rodeo.
Lea County Xtreme Bulls kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8, at Jake McClure Arena with the top cowboys on tour being part of the action.
“It’s a big deal here,” said Trey Kerby, chairman of the rodeo committee. “We have a lot of people talking about it and getting ready for it.
The Lovington stop is part of the tour’s premier series, which offers the largest purses in the game. That means the top 30 bull riders in the world standings are expected to be part of the field.
“Sometimes that’s all people talk about,” said Corey Helton, chairman of the Lea County Fair Board. “There are some people that want to see just the Xtreme Bulls.
“I couldn’t imagine our fair and rodeo without Xtreme Bulls.”
This marks the sixth year for Xtreme Bulls in Lea County. Over the years, several qualifiers to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo have earned big bucks in Lovington, including Brennon Eldred, the 2016 reserve world champion who won Lea County Xtreme Bulls two seasons ago from Purcell, Okla.
“It’s one of the greatest bull ridings of the year,” he said. “Everybody looks forward to it, and everybody comes here ready to ride.”
Last August, now-20-year-old Colten Jesse claimed the title, pulling in nearly $12,000 in the process. Big money like that is an attractive feature to the top cowboys in the game.
“We want the cowboys to come, so we want to have a good purse,” Kerby said. “Xtreme Bulls pulls the crowd in. When they can go out there and enjoy bull riding all night long, they really enjoy it, especially if there’s some good rides and some high scores.”
That’s become commonplace in Lovington. In 2014, Tim Bingham of Honeyville, Utah, was 89.5 on his first-round bull, then scored 91 points in the final round to claim the championship. A year later, Eldred was 90 and 88.5, while Jesse had the same scores in reverse order in 2016.
A big part of that involves the bull power that is associated with the event. Pete Carr Pro Rodeo is the primary livestock producer for the fair and rodeo, and Carr typically enlists four other stock contractors to provide their best bulls for Xtreme Bulls.
That’s also an attractive feature for the cowboys who make their livings on the backs of the bucking bovine beasts.
“You know when you get to Lovington, you’re going to get on some great bulls,” said Bingham, who sits seventh in the bull riding world standings. “The bulls are half the equation, so that’s a big part of it for us.”