The bulls are back.
Year 19 for Cochrane Classic Bull Riding is T-minus two weeks away and organizer/founder Jason Borton is looking forward to filling the Ag Society grounds with fans ready to see the best of the best on the evening of Aug. 17.
"Last year was huge," said Borton at the Venue Bar and Grill last week – one of the title sponsors for the Cochrane Fair weekend that takes over the town Aug. 16 to 18.
Cochrane Classic Bull Riding joined forces with the annual Cochrane Fair – what is rapidly becoming one of Cochrane's biggest signature event weekends.
Running at the Ag Society grounds on the northwest corner of town on Aug. 16-18, the Cochrane Fair will feature midway and carnival-style events the entire family can enjoy. On Aug. 16, the crowd will be entertained with a Canadian Wrestling's Elite pro wrestling event only to be matched by the popular Bull Riders Canada-sanctioned event the next night.
The rankest bulls are set to take the stage, mounted by 30 of the best bull riders from Bull Riders Canada (BRC) who will fly out of the chutes with blazing speed and power in the top-rated of 62 communities events across Canada last year.
"They're riding really good this year," said Borton, adding that he has been "keeping his eye" on this summer's BRC bunch and has an inkling that rider like Brazilian Marcos Gloria or Grande Prairie rookie Jett Lambert could make their way to the podium this year.
The top four riders will split a cool $10,000 purse. The rider with the highest score on two bulls will also take home a prized belt buckle, with a value of $1,400. Sponsorship for the shiny buckle remains open.
"We're always looking for more volunteers and sponsors," said Borton, tipping his hat to the support his event has received every year and the momentum it continues to gain since aligning with the Cochrane Fair.
It's been a few years since Cochrane had any offerings of local bull riders taking part – since Steven and Jody Turner hung up their hats and retired their weary bodies from the brutal sport. Borton is a retired bull rider who kickstarted the event nearly 20 years ago when he was riding bulls.
"I don't know where all the bull riders went to, but I'm sure they will make their way back," said Borton, putting a call out to aspiring riders to get in the ring and vie to ride in the Cochrane Classic.
Gates open at 6 p.m. and the bulls run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Pow wow dancing will entertain the crowd at halftime.
The dance to follow boasts rising country/roots musician sensation, the Blake Reid Band.
Tickets are available online at Event Brite or in person at Drycleaning by Dave and Tony's Western Wear.
Learn more at cochraneclassic.com.