Bull rider crosses continents pursuing points

One of the 126 competitors who'll enter the arena for the Professional Bull Riders Challenger Tour event here July 3, 4 and 5 grew up on a ranch in Mexico and recently rode for his country in the PBR World Cup in Queensland, Australia.

One of the 126 competitors who'll enter the arena for the Professional Bull Riders Challenger Tour event here July 3, 4 and 5 grew up on a ranch in Mexico and recently rode for his country in the PBR World Cup in Queensland, Australia.

"I grew up around cattle, and helped my dad run cattle," said Gerardo Venegas, who is from Juarez, Mexico, but is currently living in Fort Worth, TX.

The cowboy turned bull rider has been in the professional sport for five or six years and a PBR cardholder for four years. "It's easy to buy a membership, but hard to accomplish what it takes to be the best of the best," Venegas said.

He is working hard at it. A two-time qualifier for the PBR World Finals, Venegas is working his way back to competing among the world's top 45 bull riders after breaking his hand at the beginning of the year.

Venegas started competing again in March and, according to the PBR Web site, put in a courageous ride during the World Cup's second round.


Bull riders competing in the World Cup rode in teams representing the USA, Canada, Brazil, Mexico and Australia. Team Brazil won the event and the $100,000 prize at the end of the three-day event.

The second night Venegas rode three times for his country, eventually scoring 80.5 points.

It was his second trip to Australia. "It's a wonderful place," Venegas said.

This will also be the 27-year-old's second trip to Park Rapids and he's hoping to draw a good bull.

He has a lot riding on the draw. Unlike some bull riders who head to the Calgary Stampede after the PBR event in Park Rapids, Venegas is competing in Gaines, TX before he flies to the Twin Cities to get here and will head back to Texas afterward.

"I started feeling good. That's why I hit the road," Venegas said.

Besides pursuing another chance at the PBR World Finals in Las Vegas, Venegas also enjoys the camaraderie. Last year, he traveled to Park Rapids with a couple of Brazilians, he said. "You make a lot of friends."

A full-time bull rider, he jogs and works out to stay in shape for competition.


When he's performing closer to home, his wife and sometimes his son come to watch.

Venegas will ride Thursday night as will JB Mauney of Mooresville, NC, Rookie of the Year for 2006.

Gates open at 5 p.m. all three nights with the action starting at 6:30 p.m. - rain or shine.

Berger Bucking Bulls out of Mandan, ND, three-time Contractor of the Year, will be back with their world-renowned bucking bulls. Little Yellow Jacket, the greatest bull that ever lived, came from Berger Bulls, said producer Randy Jokela, adding he still can't believe that the first time the champion bull ever bucked at a professional rodeo, he did it here.

In addition to Berger Bucking Bulls, four other contractors - from Texas, Missouri, North Dakota and Montana - will be bringing tough bucking bulls.

The three-day event offers 42 riders a night with the top 10 going back to the short-go.

The entries are closed and there are outstanding riders each night, Jokela said. "They will all be tested on these bulls."

Park Rapids has become a legendary location. "It's the one they love coming to. It's not hot and it's a spot they've got to hit if they're going to win big money on the way to Calgary," Jokela said. "They're already calling us, saying they're looking forward to being here."


This year's announcer will be Andy Stewart of Monroe, LA. Two barrelmen will add a fun variety and entertain the crowds. On July 3 & 4th, funnyman Rodney Gaston, Hockly, TX will be in the arena and July 5, last year's popular clown, John Harrison, Oklahoma City, OK, will provide color. Harrison's grandfather was a world champion bull rider in the 1950s.

This year's bullfighters are Nevada Miller from Mandan, ND and Mike Rickerman from Ann Arbor, MI.

Jokela ProWest will bring back Freestyle Moto X, the popular motorcycle jumping intro/halftime show. "This year's event will combine two of the most extreme and dangerous sports in the world, professional bull riding and freestyle motorcycle jumping all in one exciting show," said Jokela.

After intermission, kids who want to grow up to be cowboys, have their chance for eight seconds of fame - or longer - on a sheep in the popular amateur event. A limited number of kids ages 5-7 can sign up for each performance on a first call, first served basis. Call 732-5587 to register.

Thursday, July 5 is West Central Family Day with a new early bird family pass available at local outlets.

And each night, after the show is over, the top regional band "Switch" will play a variety of music for nightly dances in the Montana Pavilion on the grounds featuring a Chamber beer garden and mechanical bucking bull. The Rodeo Idol finals will be held during the dance Thursday, July 5.

The bull ride will also draw food vendors and merchandisers, including a huge new white-tailed deer exhibit.

Tickets will be available at the Chamber office on Highway 71 south, Clack & Dennis Real Estate, Wadena Super One and other area outlets, or go to and click on the ticketweb link. Special VIP seating is available on a limited basis.

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