Some of the details are sketchy, but Jerome Robinson can recall one as if it were yesterday.
It had to do with a bull named Red Seven. It was the early 1970s, and he had never been ridden.
But at an event in Ardmore, Okla., a young man named Brian Barker was nearly the first to make a qualified ride.
“This kid could never ride a lick,” recalled Robinson. “In fact, I think, this kid is a judge in the PBR, Brian Barker, I think is his name. He couldn’t ride a lick, but he darn near rode Red Seven. He rode him right to the whistle.”
That annual Ardmore event is believed to be the first standalone bull riding event of its kind.
It was promoted by the Ardmore Jaycees and produced with the help of the late George Telford, who also served as the arena director during the competition. It was held at the Hardy Murphy Coliseum, and the best estimates have it starting in 1967.
Dillon Page, a six-time PBR Stock Contractor of the Year, rode the first year it was held.
Though he was unsure about the date – “I’ve never been good with dates,” he said – he is certain he was 16 years old at the time, and graduated from high school two years later.
“Of course, at those deals it didn’t matter how old you were,” he said. “Didn’t nobody care. That was in the days of no suing, anyway.”
J.W. Hart’s father Randy rode in the event in the early ’70s. He still has a daysheet from the sixth annual event.
Robinson said he recalls the ’72 Ardmore event because it was the same year Howard Harris staged a standalone bull riding event in Philadelphia as part of a horse show. According to Robinson, Harris would “buck about five or six bulls a night” during the intermission.
The Ardmore daysheet, which Randy Hart has framed in his house, has Larry Mahan listed as one of four judges for the event.
“There were bull riders that I kind of knew because of Ardmore,” Robinson said.
“It was a who’s who of bull riding back then,” said Hart, who also has 8-mm footage from the same event in the mid ’80s.
“I think the entry fees were $100,” Robinson said. “I think they added two or three-thousand dollars and took 150 bull riders and bucked 50 a night. That’s the first time I ever remember Dillon Page.”
“Back then you could get all the bull riders you wanted anywhere,” Page said. “Getting the bull riders wasn’t the problem. None of them made any money back then, but there were plenty of them, and now that you can make money, you can’t find one.”
The first year it was held on Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening.
“It was an outstanding event,” Page added.
Held in October in conjunction with the county fair, the event changed names three or more times through the years before it was relocated to Guthrie, Okla.
“It was the only one of its kind, at the time,” Robinson said. “It’s the first one I remember, and the second one was Del Rio (Texas).”
“It was the only one for five or six years,” Page reflected, “and then some people finally went to catching on to it.”
It’s certainly caught on.
Now in its 18th year of competition, the PBR will hold a Built Ford Tough Series event in a fourth city in Oklahoma. Prior events have been in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Guthrie.
Later this month, the tour will resume in Thackerville, just 28 miles south of Ardmore.
“This is kind of going back to the roots,” Hart said.
NEWS & NOTES
Calgary Stampede: 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi is still in Brazil, and has been replaced in Pool B by Canadian rider and BFTS veteran Dusty Ephrom. LJ Jenkins was first on the alternate list, but, because of the last-minute nature of Marchi’s cancellation, Ephrom was the only rider able to arrive in time for Tuesday’s competition.
Robson Palermo bucked off his first-round bull on Tuesday afternoon. After coming down off of Big Valley Black, who is known among the Canadian riders as a mean bull, Palermo’s lower right leg was stepped on. X-rays were negative, but a deep cut extended down to the bone.
Palermo will ride today, however.
Built Ford Tough Series: The Top 40 riders in the world will resume competing Friday, July 29, and Saturday, July 30, in Thackerville, Okla. The two-day event hearkens back to an older time with the WinStar World Casino Invitational being held outdoors. More information and tickets are available here.
PBR Now returns: The weekly RFD-TV series will return beginning Thursday, July 28, and will be broadcast every Thursday thereafter until previewing the World Finals on Thursday, Oct. 20. J.W. Hart returns as co-host of the one-hour talk-show format, and will be joined on alternating weeks by two-time World Champion Justin McBride and PBR co-founder Jerome Davis.
— by Keith Ryan Cartwright
© 2019 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.