This year’s Kootenay Chrysler Bull-a-Rama will feature a little local flavour to spice up the festivities as the event gets ready to ride at the Cominco Arena on Saturday.
Organizer Guy Thompson has roped in his usual crew of cowboys and volunteers to help prepare for Trail’s biggest and most exciting spectacle, but as an added bonus Thompson along with the City of Trail have recruited Trail Firefighter Matt Laoumer and EZ-Rock’s Shaun Montague to bestride the burly brahmas.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Laoumer who may have an advantage due to his Alberta heritage. “I did a little bull-riding training when I was younger.”
Although Laoumer is sure to point out it was on a plastic bucking-barrel used for practice by young aspiring bull riders, he has witnessed his share of Kootenay Chrysler Bull-a-Ramas and is watching video to figure out the ins-and-outs of bull riding.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and this could be the only chance I have in my life to do it,” he added. “I show up on Saturday at 2 p.m. and they give me the crash-course . . . They don’t tell me too much, so I can’t back out.”
Thompson is thrilled about the prospect of having local would-be bull riders take on the brahmas.
“They’re going to get their eyes open,” said Thompson. “They are going to be standing on the back of the chute watching these guys getting on bulls prior to them coming up. I know it’s going to be something for everyone to see.”
Thompson, a former Trail resident, tapped into the talent of Bull Riders Canada (BRC) this year after the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association (CPRA) pulled out. CPRA has sanctioned Bull-a-Rama in the past, but no longer supports events that are not full rodeos.
“The CPRA doesn’t want the bull riding to conflict with the full-fledged rodeo, because they’re coming here for this money, and not going to say Coleman, so that’s why they didn’t sanction my event,” said Thompson.
Bull-a-rama is one of 25 events on the BRC circuit this season and will bring 30 bullriders, including past competitors Tyler Pankewitz from Ponoka, and Colt Torkelson from Winfield, Alta., to the Silver City to compete for $12,000 in prize money.
As the Cominco Arena preps for the bulls and riders, Thompson’s crew has been putting up pens at the Trail Horseman’s grounds for the arrival of 45 brahma bulls on Thursday.
The event will also feature a mechanical bull starting at 3:30 p.m. for those looking for the thrill of bull riding without the pain, mutton bustin’ for kids ages three to five, the return of rodeo clown Josh “Slick” Sheppard to protect the cowboys and entertain the crowd, and the ever-popular Ken McCoy Band will be back to top off the evening at the Barn Dance at 9 p.m.
While the Bull-a-Rama has been a Silver City favourite for years, it is not without its challenges and the 13th Bull-a-Rama may be the last ride for the City of Trail as it looks to cut expenses. Earlier this year, Trail Council barely passed a vote to proceed with the 2014 event.
“This year, I think it’s going to be good,” said Thompson. “I know there’s rumours from the City of Trail that this is it, the last one, and if it is, it’s been a good ride. But there’s not much else coming into the City of Trail for events, it just drives me nuts . . . Besides Silver City Days, I don’t know what else is going on in town.”
The Kootenay Chrysler Bull-a-Rama has also been a boon to local non-profit groups like the Trail Horseman’s Society and the Trail Smoke Eaters, and has helped raise over $200,000 for various community groups.
“I don’t want to go out like this,” said Thompson. “I know it’s been a good run. Who would ever thought of bull riding in Trail for 13 years? I would like to go to council after, explain some of the costs and the amount of money that this organization has given back to the community.”
While the future may not be bright for Bull-a-Rama, Thompson remains hopeful, and guarantees another great show for Trail no matter what happens next year.
“I think I’d have a tear in my eye (if it was cancelled),” said Thompson. “Everybody said don’t ever use that word – next year – and I said that after the third year, and it’s gone on this long, so it’s been good.”
Advance tickets for the Kootenay Chrysler Bull-a-Rama are $22 adults and $10 for children U14, and are available at Pharmasave Trail, Ferraro Foods Rossland, Valley Petro Canada, Kootenay Chrysler, and Trail Aquatic Centre. For more info phone 364-0888 or 368-8295.