2015 Optimist Bulls Only Rodeo full of action, entertainment and surprises

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“They are the spirit of rodeo, we call them cowboys,” said Bulls Only Rodeo Announcer Howdy White to start the 17th Optimist Bulls Only Rodeo in Lakeside on July 17-18. With two action packed nights of cowboys taking on the best broncing bulls in stock, Wild Horse Racing (Team Bronc riding) and a crowd favorite, the kids Mutton Bustin’ event, dust, rain nor mud could stop these champion athletes from Georgia to Lakeside performing for the crowd.

“They are the spirit of rodeo, we call them cowboys,” said Bulls Only Rodeo Announcer Howdy White to start the 17th Optimist Bulls Only Rodeo in Lakeside on July 17-18. With two action packed nights of cowboys taking on the best broncing bulls in stock, Wild Horse Racing (Team Bronc riding) and a crowd favorite, the kids Mutton Bustin’ event, dust, rain nor mud could stop these champion athletes from Georgia to Lakeside performing for the crowd.

Attendees observed one of the most dangerous sports in existence, as man vs. nature captivated the crowd as cowboys risked it all against bucking bulls and wild horses in the name of helping the Lakeside Optimist Club that have been supporting the youth of Lakeside since 1949. And the muddy conditions on Saturday after the weekend pour, added to the thrill, with inches of mud for all of the contestants and ring workers to muddle through, or dragged in many cases.

That spirit immersed the atmosphere as onlookers witnessed bullfighter Ramiro Baeza instinctively throw his body over Jacob “The Preacher Man” Thogmartin from being trampled by a bull, as bullfighter Dave Murdoch worked on keeping the bucking bull away. Thogmartin was knocked unconscious on his first ride on Friday, after hitting his chin on the bull’s head coming out of the chute.

Thogmartin woke in the ambulance and was given a CT scan to check for any severe damage. Fortunately the results were negative, with the exception of a concussion. The following night he was back on his bull for the second night of competition. 

“It’s definitely what we do, it’s our way of life,” he said. “I walked straighter today then I did yesterday.”

Wild Horse Racing threw the crowd into frenzy as teams of three chased down some of the toughest horses in rodeo, to contain, stop, control, cinch and saddle the bronc and ride it to the finish line. Dealing with the thick, deep mud on Saturday night proved to be a stronger challenge for all, especially in this event. With horses and cowboys all over the ring, this is an adrenaline pumping sight to see whether the horse or cowboys prevail in the end.

For the finale, riders in the Short Go competition, a collection of the top six bull riders, all failed to record time of eight seconds or more. There were plenty of courageous bull rides, but no rider took home the $1,000 prize money.

Josh Goodson recorded the best score of competition, with an 82 point ride. Meanwhile DJ Stoneburner was the only rider to average, with two nights of successfully scored rides.

Mutton Bustin’ resulted in a winner each night. Riley Cunning clenched hold of his mutton for 2.78 seconds for first place honors. And champion Mutton-Bustin’ Mickey Gaines grappled his sheep for a stellar 10.78 seconds on night two. His ride concluded with steer-wrangling his mutton to the ground.

Rodeo Chairman Brent Woosley said that the proceeds of the Bulls Only Rodeo go to the youth of Lakeside. A non-profit organization, Lakeside Optimist Club is supported by volunteers without any paid employees. 

The Lakeside Optimist recently assisted in purchasing helmets for the Division 2 Champion El Capitan high school football team, but their generosity is not limited to sports.

“It could be something like a kid can’t afford to go on a field trip to Washington D.C. and needs some assistance, they come to us, and that’s what were there for,” said Woolsey.

Miss 2015 Bulls Only Rodeo Queen Brittany Miller (aka “The Dream Chaser) said she was honored to be a part of the event.

Before becoming Miss Bulls Only, Miller thought she was a patient person, but since becoming queen says she has, “become a master of the skill.” Beyond the boots and hat, Miller describes herself has a part-time comedian.

“I’ve got some real knee slapper jokes, the kind that make snort noises come out of your nose, and give you that deep belly ache!” she said.

But all jokes aside Miller takes pride in being Miss Bulls Only Rodeo Queen.

“Touching the lives of the community, and the youth means the most to me,” she said. “I will never forget the lives I have touched, the people I have met, and the friends that I have made.”

Miller has dreamed of becoming queen ever since she was a little girl. 

“For those of you out there that want something in life, or are dreaming of accomplishing something big, you can do it,” she said. “With positive thinking, and perseverance, anything is possible, if you just believe.”

As for the rodeo, Miller enjoyed representing the sport, community and country she loves.

“Carrying the American flag is one of the most breath taking experiences I could have ever dreamed of,” she said. “With the crowd roaring, bright lights, your friends and family there supporting you, riding on one of your very own horses, and carrying the American flag, it truly doesn’t get better than that.”

Bulls Only Rodeo is an IPRA sanctioned rodeo, with the cowboys able to earn points to help them garner to make it to the IPRA world finals in Oklahoma.

Danny “Buffalo Chip” Alvarez, (along with his band of young budding bullfighters) and the help of Barrelman Dominic Giorgi, entertained the crowd as well as help keep the riders out of harms way. The banter between Giorgi and White, while not nearly as dangerous, were as entertaining to the crowd, as they filled in the gaps between events with their personal digs and dry humored jokes. Giorgi is perfect for entertaining the crowd as his fun performances and witty dialog always interact with the crowd. And although the extreme muddy conditions on Saturday prevented and encore performance, the Hole in the Wall Gang thoroughly entertained the crowd with its rootin’ tootin’ gun slinging performance on Friday.

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