The Pendleton Bull Riders Competition in Grand Forks


Dylan Enerson

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Dylan Enerson, Reporter

If you had asked me what the Pendleton Bull Riders (PBR) Velocity Tour was a month ago, I would have hazarded a guess that it was just a rodeo and left it at that. After watching the competition at the Alerus Center and being vehemently corrected on my terminology by multiple friends, I can tell you it was less of a rodeo, and more of an individual sporting event as it was a night dedicated to only bull riding. Regardless of the terminology though, it was a great Saturday night out at the Alerus Center.  

Last weekend was one of the last I got to spend with my brother before he was shipped off to basic training for the National Guard. We spent the day prior running around Grand Forks trying to find all the fun things to do when you are not 21 years old, and we were itching for something exciting and out of the ordinary to spend our time doing. Then, I remembered that this weekend there was a bull riding competition being held at the Alerus Center, and as it was something that neither of us had ever done before, so we decided to try it out.  

Unfortunately, I did not have the foresight to grab our tickets before the prices went up on the day of the event. Nevertheless, when we got to the box office, I was briefly contemplating grabbing slightly more expensive tickets, but then I found out about the increased price. With prices at the box office starting at around $20 and increasing by around $10 for each tier of pricing they were very affordable. We opted to just ask for the best seats they could get us at the cheapest price they offered. The employee chuckled a little bit when I said that but, in the end, he pulled through and got us some seats in the lower part of the Alerus Center that did not break the bank.   

We were able to get to the venue about ten minutes or so after the doors opened while carpooling with some friends  that were also heading to the show. Once we got there the line was relatively short, so we were able to get in, grab something to drink at concessions, and get down to our seats with a half hour still to spare. There were no events happening before the competition started but with a sold-out show, it was smart of us to get there early to avoid the bulk of the crowd.  

The spectacle started off with a bang by lighting a fire in the middle of the field in the shape of the letters “PBR” after the name of the competition. Following that, the riders walked into the field and the introductions played across the loudspeaker. There were a lot more in the competition than I thought there would be but of course that was before I knew each ride would last at the most eight seconds.  

The competition itself was a huge amount of fun though there was an injury about two minutes into it. The second rider of the night, seconds after leaving the gate, was thrown from the bull and broke his leg. While I did not catch the scene itself, I was able to see the aftermath and it seemed that it was not an overly concerning injury as far as broken bones go. Of course, it is always a concern when a serious injury like this happens during an event, especially among the other riders. I could only imagine that they would be slightly nervous after seeing a fellow rider and friend injured that early in the show but after that the night went on without any other serious injuries.  

One thing I did not realize regarding the sport before going to this event was how hard it is to stay on the bulls and what exactly you had to do to qualify for the competition. A rider needed to stay on the bull for eight seconds or more in order to qualify. There were a few requirements to this that worked in the rider’s favor, specifically that you needed a clean exit onto the dirt which meant not being clipped by the gates on the way out by the bull. If this did happen and the rider fell off, then they were given a retry and another chance back on a bull to qualify. The action kept coming throughout the night in a stable fashion and I found that it was a much more exciting event than I had originally thought it would be.   

One other form of entertainment was the crew of four in charge of distracting a bull away from a rider once they were thrown. While riding a bull is the main part of the sport, escaping them can be even harder to do. They did this by circling around the bull and making themselves as animated as possible in an attempt to lure it away from the rider long enough for them to climb out of the field. Luckily for the riders the team was great at what they did and could keep the bull away from the rider rather successfully. On top of that one of the crew on the field was also one of the announcers on the mic and he would take occasional trips up into the crowd to do the giveaways and other bits that would normally be associated with the mascot at other sporting events. He was very entertaining and was well liked by the crowd of spectators.   

In the end, we had a huge amount of fun during the night and would go again next time something like that came to town. I would recommend spending the money on anyone looking for something new to do in Grand Forks. If you have never been to one of these competitions, try it out, you might find that you enjoy it a lot more than you thought you would. 


Dylan Enerson is a Dakota Student General Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected].