HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The ultimate man-vs.-beast contest will be the inaugural event inside the newly covered rodeo arena at the Waller County Fairgrounds.
Freestyle bullfighting will invade Hempstead during the opening night of the Waller County Fair and Rodeo, bringing with it high action, intense competition and a risk-reward setting like no other event on the planet. The fiery action begins at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s going to be pretty exciting, and we’re going to have 12 of the top guys from the Ultimate Bullfighters at this event,” said Justin Crawford of Spur 1 Management, which is producing the bullfight and is also involved in other aspects of the fair and rodeo. “This is going to be one of the last UBF events before their finals.”
It’s going to be a high-flying display that will help open the eight-day exposition; it’s also one of several Western sports-related events that will be inside the remodeled arena, joining The Eliminator, a specialized tie-down roping that features eight of the top cowboys in the game that is unique to the Waller County Fair and Rodeo.
“We developed this years ago as a way to give these guys a chance to rope for good money in a format where one person is eliminated in each round,” Clint Sciba, president of the Waller County Fair Board, said of the Tuesday, Oct. 3, competition. “We’ve actually continued to develop it and will have a Next Generation Eliminator that will be the same type event for younger competitors; we will open that night with the junior ropers at 6 p.m.”
It will be followed by the big dogs: No. 1 cowboy Riley Webb, John Douch of Huntsville, Ty Harris of San Angelo, Cory Solomon of Prairie View and world champions Haven Meged, Shad Mayfield, Shane Hanchey and Caleb Smidt – combined they have 54 National Finals Rodeo qualifications and four gold buckles. The open tie-down roping will also take place Tuesday.
Wednesday, Oct. 4, will feature the Next Generation Women’s Eliminator involving breakaway roping, which will be followed by the WPRA breakaway roping competition. Thursday, Oct. 5, is opening night of the three ProRodeo performances.
“It’s going to be a great week to open that new facility,” said Paul Shollar, vice president of the Waller County Fair Board. “The Eliminator has been a fan favorite around here for a long time. Folks in this part of the world love calf roping, so it’s fun.
“I’m really excited to see what the bullfights bring to the table. If you’ve never seen a freestyle bullfight, then you’re missing out on some big-time excitement.”
It’s the type of performance that will keep fans on the edges of their seats. Professional bullfighters will utilize their athleticism and ability to read animals as they face Mexican fighting bulls, which were bred for this type of fight. The bulls will utilize their aggressive nature and natural agility to try to throw a knockout punch on the men testing them.
The bullfighters will step around and sometimes jump over the bulls in order to score points, which are based on a 100-point scale; half comes from the man’s ability to get as close to the animal as possible while staying out of harm’s way. The remaining 50 points is based on the bull’s aggressiveness and his ability to stay involved in the fight.
“These fights last 60 seconds, but there’s a lot that happens in that short amount of time,” Crawford said. “There’s going to be some incredible athleticism from both the bull and the bullfighter, and there are going to be some big wrecks. That’s what makes the UBF so much fun to watch.”