2013 Southwest Washington Fair: Return of the Riders

South Sound Bull Bash Takes Center Stage at Fair

It was riders versus bulls Thursday evening at the Southwest Washington Fair’s first-ever South Sound Bull Bash.

The fair partnered with the newly formed Southwest Washington Rodeo Association to bring the professional bull riding event this year.

“It’s just fun to have that be an addition to the fair,” Fair Manager Gale Sobolesky said. “It just seems like a natural.”

The Bull Bash marks the first time a rodeo-style event has taken place at the fair in more than three decades, Sobolesky said.

In fact, she said, she does not know if the fair ever featured rodeo events. But, the fair surely has not included bull riding since the 1970s, Sobolesky said.

Southwest Washington Rodeo Association Secretary Jodi Bruen said the group came up with the idea to bring professional bull riding to the fair because Lewis County now lacks the family-friendly event.

In 2007, the Lewis County Roundup Rodeo lost funding and stopped putting on events.

The rodeo association, which formed last May, raised more than $30,000 to put on the Bull Bash at this year’s fair.

“It’s to bring something fun and exciting to the community,” Bruen, of Chehalis, said.

About 30 riders from around the region and other states, including Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, attempted to stay on a bucking bull during the event.

Three local “bullfighters” distracted the beasts so riders could escape the arena after falling off.

“They’re there to save the riders, like a rodeo clown,” Bruen said. “Kind of like unsung heros.”

The competition included some 36 bulls from Washington ranches.

“That way, for the championship, there’s fresh bulls,” Bruen said.

Southwest Washington Rodeo Association Director Ryan Acevedo said most of the bulls have appeared on televised rodeo events.

“We’ve got some really good bulls and some good riders,” the Onalaska resident said. “This is our big, debut event.”

The top six riders advanced to the championship round, competing for $5,000 in prizes and a new rifle.

The Bull Bash sold more than 800 advance tickets, according to the fair office, and many more at the gate.

“We plan on making it an annual event,” Acevedo said.

By Amy Nile / anile@chronline.com


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