One of the primary organizers was an Oklahoma world champion named Lane Frost, who served as the contestant director for that first event in 1989 and enlisted rodeo’s top 30 bull riders, each of whom forked out $1,000 entry fees just to compete. Frost also helped coordinate the best bulls to make it a true showcase of talent.
The memories of that first year continue, in history and beyond. Another Oklahoma bull rider, Cord McCoy, is bringing back Bullnanza presented by Lane Frost Brand, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Lazy E Arena, home of the original three and a half decades ago.
“When I think of bull riding at the Lazy E, I think of Bullnanza,” said McCoy, a bull rider turned stock contractor and owner of the Lane, Oklahoma-based McCoy Rodeo. “I have wanted to produce a Bullnanza at the Lazy E for a long time, and now we’re doing it.”
It’s also an easy tie-in for the Lane Frost Brand, which is operated by Frost’s nephew, Stetson, and supported by other family members. When the opportunity to be involved in the return of Bullnanza – which, for many years, served as a tribute to Lane Frost and another Oklahoma bull riding legend, Freckles Brown – Stetson Frost jumped into the fray with both feet. It’s all about his family’s legacy.
“Lane idolized Freckles and wanted to do things he had done,” Elsie Frost, Lane’s mother and Stetson’s grandmother, said in a story published by The Oklahoman 21 years ago. “Lane helped them that first year and just thought it was the neatest thing they had done.”
That first event was the precursor to what is now the PBR, an association McCoy knows well. He was a six-time qualifier to the PBR World Finals and has since raised several of the elite bulls that are part of the organization. He’s gone from riding to showcasing some of the greatest bucking bulls.
McCoy’s Riding Solo was the 2022 PBR Bull of the Year; the animal was also selected to buck at the National Finals Rodeo, the PRCA’s grand finale that just concluded in December. Riding Solo is scheduled be one of the animals that will buck both nights at Bullnanza, which is part of the PRCA’s Xtreme Bulls tour and will be the perfect place in Oklahoma for fans to revisit history while enjoying all the benefits of bull riding in 2023.
“I remember we’d go to Bullnanza when I was a little kid,” said McCoy, a five-time International Professional Rodeo Association titlist who also qualified for the NFR. “I wanted to watch my bull-riding heroes, Ty Murray, Jim Sharp, Tuff Hedeman, Clint Branger (etc.) … the best guys in the world.”
Stand-alone bull riding has changed a great deal over time. Most are sanctioned by one organization or another, the purses are bigger and the opportunities are greater. Points earned at Bullnanza will count toward qualifications for the 2023 NFR. When the event first began in the late 1980s, only it and the George Paul Memorial in Del Rio, Texas, had isolated themselves from the rest of rodeo. Over the years since, there have been dozens of bull riding-only associations, and only two stand out amongst the crowd: the PBR and the PRCA’s Xtreme Bulls.
Two things have remained constant when it comes to this version of Bullnanza: The best bull riders will be matched with the best bulls over two days at the Lazy E Arena, and children will be just as excited to see their rodeo heroes. The cream of the crop in bull riding will be there, too, especially since the purse should exceed $20,000.
“We want this to be like it was at the beginning, a big event for the biggest names in rodeo,” McCoy said. “Stetson and Lane Frost Brand are making up our added money, which is the bulk of our purse. Guys want to ride for money like that.”
Tickets are on sale and can be purchased by visiting McCoyRodeo.com.
“Bull riding is always exciting, but what makes this even better is the old-school feel of Bullnanza with the great cowboys we have out there today,” McCoy said. “There won’t be for a lack of excitement. Just like when I was little, it’s going to be wild.”