Rodeo fans will get a double dose of bull riding this year at the Benton Franklin Fair and Rodeo with the addition of an Xtreme Bulls competition tonight.
"We had one about six years ago, but after that, people (fair board) wanted to do other things," said Mike Casey, vice president of the BFFR. "This is the first of a three-year commitment. The learning curve is too hard to just do it for one year."
Admission for the 7 p.m. event is $15, which includes fair admission.
Tonight's event will feature 26 of the top 30 riders in the Xtreme Bulls standings, including top-ranked Kanin Asay of Powell, Wyo., and Grand Coulee's Shane Proctor, who is ranked fifth.
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"We got 40 riders," Casey said. "We have an excellent turnout. I'm very excited about that. It's nice for them to be able to compete for that kind of money on a Tuesday night -- otherwise they are sitting at home. A lot of the top riders are in this area right now. Bremerton has Xtreme Bulls on Wednesday."
The money earned tonight counts toward the world standings in the PRCA. The top 15 bull riders advance to the National Finals Rodeo, provided they have gone to a sufficient number of regulars rodeos (30) in addition to the Xtreme events.
The BFFR committee put up $10,000, and each rider ponies up a $250 entry fee, making a pot of $20,000. The first round will feature all 40 riders, while the short go will bring back the top 10. Of that group, the top eight will earn a paycheck.
First or eighth, every penny helps, especially for a guy like Proctor, who missed the first few weeks of the season after suffering a broken arm at the National Finals Rodeo in December.
Proctor broke his left (free) arm above the elbow on the final night of the 2011 NFR in Las Vegas after getting his hand caught in the rope and getting tossed around by Powder River Rodeo's Black Attack.
Proctor, 27, had surgery to repair the damage and returned to action in March.
"I missed quite a few events," said Proctor, who also ranks seventh in the PRCA bull riding standings with $65,314. "I got back riding for a month, then messed up my shoulder. But I'm healthy now and feeling good. I'm just nickel-and-diming it up right now. I had luck in Cody (Wyo.) and Lovington (N.M.), and I won Canby (Ore.) this last weekend and got a pretty decent paycheck ($3,791)."
Proctor will compete tonight in Kennewick, then head to Bremerton and will be back in town for the Horse Heaven Round-Up on Friday. Proctor has won the last two HHRU bull riding titles.
"Two paychecks in Kennewick would be really nice," Proctor said. "There will be a lot of good riders at both events. With Kennewick and Bremerton being so close, it cuts down on travel and that draws a lot of contestants."
Proctor won his first PRCA world title in 2011, earning $238,249, and was fourth at the NFR.
The Big Bend and Flying 5 rodeo companies will supply the bulls for the Xtreme event and the HHRU.
"What's really nice, is one of the guys lives in Colfax and the other in Ritzville," Casey said. "It's nice to be able to deal with local people and they have quality stock."
* Annie Fowler: 509-582-1574; firstname.lastname@example.org