Bull riding brings in a big crowd
The California Smackdown Bull Riding Series helped kick off fair week with a show of guts and glory on Tuesday, July 16. The show had approximately 1,000 people in attendance. Photo by Maddie Musante
July 19 — The California Smackdown Bull Riding Series helped kick off fair week with a show of guts and glory that wowed more than 1,000 people at the Lassen County Fairgrounds Tuesday, July 16.
The evening of entertainment warmed up the crowd with a show of mutton busting. Lassen County children played mini bull riders as they were placed on sheep, released into the arena and tried to hold on for as long as they could. The event was such a hit that several more children signed up at the last minute, after the mutton busting had already begun.
After a display of American pride, the singing of the national anthem, and a short prayer for the bull riders and participants, the main event was on. Twenty professional bull riders, some of them with local ties, gave it their all with the hope of achieving a successful, eight-second ride. The feat was not easily achieved, as none of the riders had a qualified ride during the first half of the show.
The bull riding was broken up into two portions with barrel racing taking place between them. Several local ladies competed in barrel racing, wowing the crowd with their speed and horse mastery. One of the crowd’s favorite participants was young Paige Azevedo, who was too young to participate in barrel racing on her own and, thus, was led around the barrels on her horse as she waved to the cheering crowd.
When the bull riding resumed, the crowd was pleased to finally see a bull rider get a qualified ride. Devin Espin, who took first place in the event with 88 points, was the only rider to get a qualified ride in the short round. The accomplishment won Espin $1,500.
After the show at the Lassen County Fair, the California Smackdown Bull Riding Series now boasts a finals pot of $7,400. According to event organizer, Manuel Souza, the pot could get as big as $15,000 by the end of this year’s series.
Souza was pleased with how the event went and was overwhelmed with gratitude for those who sponsored bulls, donated and helped with the event. “It was a very successful show … all of my family and crew would love to thank the folks in Lassen County for the big crowd. See you next year,” Souza said.