12-year-old Zack Parker of Conneaut Lake has a passion that not many other kids his age share: bull riding. Parker started riding two years ago, inspired after seeing a woman ride a bull at a rodeo: she got bucked off.
“The bull flipped over her, I watched it when it happened,” he said, “And I thought, it just looks like a cool sport.”
And he does well at that sport. Despite his age, however, Parker did well enough to place in the top five after the preliminary round with a score of 68. Parker earned that score, riding with several other older professional riders at Dave Martin’s Bullride Mania Thursday night at the grandstand at the Crawford County Fair.
The show, emceed by a Porkchop the clown, included a Little Buckaroo Rodeo, bull riding, and Girls’ Barrel Racing, although the bull riding was the main event of the night. The Little Buckaroo Rodeo was part of the pre-show, and allowed kids under six to try their best to ride the rodeo sheep, clinging to their wooly backs. See photos of these Buckaroos in our photo gallery.
The Girls’ Barrell Race, which took place in between bull riding rounds, required riders to race around three strategically placed barrels in the ring and then back to the starting line.
Ashley Beverage, of Meadville, has been racing for five years. She said she loves the adrenaline rush she gets, but that barrel racing takes more than that.
“It takes a lot of dedication from the horse and rider,” said Beverage, who was riding her horse Quiggly, “A lot of people think it’s all about speed, but they really need heart.”
The night’s big show was all about bull riding, and had some young fans excited about the action. “Watching them flip off,” said Kendra Green, of Erie, is her favorite part of the show.
“It’s a big adrenaline rush,” said Joe Parker (no relation to Zack), who’s been riding bulls for seven years.
After so many years, he says he no longer feels that rush, but that he still loves the sport. Parker, from Greenville, has been riding with Dave Martin for five years.
“You call the gate, it opens, he bucks, the bull is bread to buck,” said Parker, explaining the process of bull riding. “Tie one hand in–one hand is up in the air and can’t touch for eight seconds. You’ve got to get a good hold on with your legs, too.”
Watch Michael Lane of Dave Martin’s Bullride Mania, listed as one of the best professional riders in the world, tell GoErie.com what happens inside the ring.
Ever seen a rodeo live? Watch this rider at Dave Martin’s Bullride Mania at the Crawford County Fair.
See the Little Buckaroo Rodeo stick horse race, as part of the pre-show offered, for kids under six. Be sure to catch the high-fives at the end!