Bull riders ready to tear up the turf

By Stephen Dafoe

Sturgeon County – Bull riders from across the province and as far away as Australia and New Zealand are getting set to bear down and hang on for this weekend’s Eighth Annual Tearin’ Up The Turf, co-hosted by the Morinville and District Agricultural Society and the Sturgeon Agriplex Society.

Ag. Society member and event organizer Monica Bradley said this year’s event will match 30 bulls with 30 riders, all of whom are looking to walk away with the top prize of $3,500.

All of the riders are members of the World Professional Bull Riders and in addition to the opportunity to grab some cash money by the horns; riders will get the chance to accumulate points towards their international circuit tally.

“These guys get marked for every event that they do, so even this little, little bull ride that we’ve got here in Morinville – they actually get points to go towards their overall score,” Bradley said. “They go all over the place, these guys.”

But while the venue may be small, the bull riding is big. Bradley said the riders enjoy coming to the Morinville event for the quality of the ride.

“It’s a small ride but it’s a good ride,” Bradley said, adding they are once again getting their bulls from Miller Rodeo in Athabasca. “So we have some really good bulls and some bulls that are actually used at CFR [Canadian Finals Rodeo].”

Bradley said one of the things the riders particularly like is the fact that the competition is held inside, allowing for a rain or shine event. Regardless of the weather, the Agricultural Society is hoping to fill the Agriplex again this year with between 600 and 700 bull riding fans, something Bradley does not anticipate will be a problem, given bull riding’s popularity in the region.

“We’re rural Alberta,” she said. “This is exactly what we do. A lot of people are born on farms and grow up doing this. They start on muttons. A lot of kids grew up on this kind of a circuit, whether it be calving or bull riding or penning. I think it’s just bringing back some of those grass roots that we’ve always been part of.”

Doors open at 2 p.m. Saturday with bull riding starting at 4 p.m. A half time mutton busting event will be held for the children to emulate the bull riders on a smaller and less dangerous scale.

But riding sheep isn’t the only event for the young ones. The ReMax Kiddie Corral will have plenty to keep the little ones busy. Bradley said the corral will contain jumpy things, petting zoo, face painters, balloon twisters and an opportunity for children to dig for gold … well, gold-coloured loonies at least.

In addition to the goodies for children, the event will have a watering trough for the adults, as well as a food concession for everyone.

Admission is $12 for anyone 13 and older, with a discount for those 60 and older. Admission for children aged 5-12 is $6 and children 4 and under get to ride for free.

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