This will personally be my second time attending the Professional Bull Riding (PBR) Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour here in Portland, Oregon. Last year I was blown away at the athleticism and honor each rider had. Every rider is there to compete for points to become champion and move up in rank in the world standings, but there is also a mutual respect and care among the riders for each other. The love and passion in the area transcends to the audience, and as an audience member, besides having a good time and rooting for your favorite rider or bull, you begin to care and respect the riders as well. These riders, although young, are professionals and have a team of professionals with them to make sure they and the bulls are as safe as possible. I was in awe at the well-oiled machine that is the PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour.
Our PBR Entertainer for the night was Matt Merritt from Louisiana. Matt did his first PBR event in 2004; he was definitely entertaining. At one point during the show, Matt decided to take a little break and show us that he loves that we like to “Keep Portland Weird.” He brought out that iconic pink box that we all know means VooDoo Doughnuts. He then took out that VooDoo doll doughnut before taking a bite. He also demonstrated the outfit he put together especially for us so that he can also ‘keep Portland weird.’ It consisted of the black platform sparkly shoes he bought last time he was here, as well as his new find (construction orange platform boots). “Great fashion and great for deer hunting,” Matt proudly told the audience. His outfit was completed by leggings and a Portland Trail Blazer jersey. Then takes a big bite out of the voodoo doll doughnut, I think secretly (not so secretly), Matt likes his ‘weird’ outfit.
Also, in the arena, we have our Pickup Man and our Bull Fighters. The Pickup Man is a cowboy on a horse that is there to help the riders and bullfighters wrangle the bull and guide them to the gate when needed. The Bull Fighters also contribute to getting the bull back into the gate after the rider is done; they protect the rider as best they can by distracting the bull while the rider makes it to safety (generally jumping on the fence). These men are incredible to watch. The way the Pickup Man lassos bulls; he makes it look effortless and the bullfighters are so athletic and fast. They move around with the bull, almost like in a dance, to get the bull to focus their attention away from the rider.
So on to our riders: There are some from the Pacific Northwest that of course get the lion’s share of cheers from the crowd. Those PNW riders were: Cody Campbell from Summerville, Oregon (home state favorite), Jesse Borland from Brush Prairie, Washington, Cody Casper from Newport, Washington, Cody Hudson from Camas, Washington, and Wyatt Covington, from Omak, Washington. Riders in this circuit range in age from 18-40 years old and they hail from all over the world.
The riders on this night were (in no particular order):
- Nathan Burtenshaw – 25 years old from Coonamble, NSW (New South Wales in Australia)
- Joao Augusto Cezere – 25 years old from Sao Miguel Arcanio, SP (Spain)
- Jesse Borland – 25 years old from Brush Prairie, WA
- Cody Casper – 26 years old from Newport, WA
- Nick Tetz – 20 years old from Calgary, AB
- Andrew Alvidrez – 23 years old from Seminole, TX
- Dakota Louis – 27 years old from Browning, MT
- Laramie Craigen – 21 years old from Stephenville, TX
- Conner Halverson – 18 years old from Gordon, NE
- Austin Richardson – 19 years old from Stephenville, TX
- Luis Blanco – 31 years old from Iacanna
- Dalton Rudman – 24 years old from Wellington, UT
- Wyatt Covington – 20 years old from Omak, WA
- Hayden Harris – 20 years old from Tehlequah, OK
- Juan Carlos Contreras – 30 years old from Huichapan, Hidalgo
- Francisco Morales – 37 years old from Irapuato, Gua
- J.T. Stevens – 31 years old from Ashville, AL
- Boudreaux Campbell – 21 years old from Crockett, TX
- Brady Portenier – 24 years old from New Plymouth, ID
- Eduardo de Oliveira – 26 years old from Nova Lacerda, MT
- Santiago Castellanos – 27 years old from Dixon, CA
- Ruger Piva – 24 years old from Challis, ID
- Wallace Vieira de Oliveira – 40 years old from Gojania, GO (Brazil)
- River Stephenson – 22 years old from Blackfoot, ID
- Anthony Hopen – 20 years old from Norco, CA
- Triston Dean – 22 years old from Merkel, TX
- Cody Hudson – 24 years old from Camas, WA
- Garrion Hull – 25 years old from Wichita, KS
- Shay Marks – 24 years old from Sunny Brook, AB
- J.T. Pettitt – 28 years old from Odessa, TX
- Zac Harris – 30 years old from Zephyr, TX
- Kache Moosman – 29 years old from Price, UT
- Riley Gagnon – 20 years old from Innisfail, AB
- Alex Santana – 22 years old from Chowchilla, CA
- Brady Oleson – 23 years old from Blackfoot, ID
- Cody Campbell – 32 years old from Summerville, OR
These prized bulls are also celebrities in their own right. These bulls are handpicked and trained to be the best of the best. I was told that these bulls are treated like royalty. One bull had to have surgery not that long ago, was given the best care possible and even went through Physical Therapy treatment to ensure that he was back to peak performance before coming back to the arena. Some of the bulls’ names are: Curly, Crooked Nose, Maverick, Whirly Bird, BB-651, Smooth Talker, El Dorado, Justify, CWZ-W600, Scrawny Ronny, Turn Down For What, and Agent 88. These bulls also get ranked based on their performance. Some of the bulls I say went ‘rouge’ after the rider did their thing. When the bull just was not ready to go back through the gate, it sometimes circled the arena or did a standoff with the bull riders. This created enjoyment because it gave the Bull Fighters and Pickup Man a chance to show us their skills.
The fans really helped create this atmosphere for the bull riders. At the beginning of the night, Matt told us that he has a special commemorative belt buckle that he is going to give to the biggest fan of the night. Before the final round took place, he went to this family that brought one of the biggest fans in the young category; A little young man that dressed the part of a Professional Bull Rider with a sign that read “Future PBR Rider.” His grin was from ear to ear as he received the belt buckle from Matt. Although there were some great contenders out there for the biggest fan, Matt picked out the best one for sure.
Ok so since I mostly write about music, I’ve got to mention a little bit about the music played. I was surprised at how much ‘electronic’ music was used to hype up riders or for the start of the show. At one point, the arena had to deal with some ‘technical difficulties’ and whoever was in charge of the music definitely knew what songs to play to keep the crowd entertained. Some songs included: “Don’t Stop, Believin” by Journey, and “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, both of which really got the crowd singing! Music ranged from AC/DC to Snoop Dogg, but the majority was classic rock music.
At the end of the night, the results were calculated, with Cody Casper taking first place. They did a quick interview with Cody and presented him with this sweet belt buckle trophy and that was it. Such a quick end to one thrilling night. The top bull was Agent 88. Hopefully Agent 88 got some sort of reward as well.
If you’ve never been to a PBR Arena show, I strongly suggest you go. Even if you know very little about bull riding like I do. You’ll meet some amazing people that will share their love for the sport and you’ll thoroughly enjoy yourself just like I did.
Top 10 results from the night are:
- Cody Casper
- Dakota Louis
- Nathan Burtenshaw
- Zac Harris
- 5/6. Francisco Garcia Torres
- 5/6. Brady Oleson
- Brady Portenier
- Dalton Rudman
- Joao Cezere
- Juan Contreras
- Agent 88
- Grim Reaper