Bull riders aren’t the type to search for 15 minutes of fame. All they’re asking for is eight seconds.
And now, pending the finalization of a contract, they’ll get it.
This year’s Xtreme Bulls event, scheduled to take place on the last day of the Kitsap County Fair & Stampede, will be televised nationally on ESPN, the result of moving up to Division 1 in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sactioned ranks.
That means even more exposure for the rapidly growing rodeo.
“Typically, you do not think of Bremerton when you talk about rodeo,” said Frank Abbott, Fair and Special Events co-manager. “It validates that we are as good and, in most cases, better than most rodeos you historically think about.”
The Fair & Stampede rodeo is coming off one of its most successful years, having garnered its third consecutive nomination for PRCA Pro Rodeo of the Year. Last year, the event dished out a record total of $154,808 in prize money.
That figures to grow even higher now, with the division leap providing $40,000 more into the purse.
While the existing Xtreme Bulls event always brought in a handful of the top-ranked riders in the world, the jump to D-I will rope most, if not all, the best, according to Sam Dunn, Xtreme Bulls Tour Director.
“When the tour comes in, we’ll bring the top 40 bull riders in the world,” Dunn said. “When we bring ESPN and the tour, the fans up there are gonna be in for a real treat. It’ll be a terrific event.”
The idea to jump from Division 2 actually kicked off when Winnercomm, the nation’s largest independent sports production, development, marketing and sales rep company, and Dunn contacted Abbott and co-manager Lauran Erickson.
“Winnercomm made contact with us probably a month ago,” Abbott said. “They asked if we were up to being a Division 1. For somebody like that to approach us about Bremerton rodeo speaks highly.”
Much like word of the Fair & Stampede has spread among those embedded in the world of rodeo, its reputation also spread to Winnercomm.
“They’ve got a good reputation there for the rodeo in Bremerton,” Dunn said. “What we hear is how it’s a professionally run event. Definitely the cowboys are treated very well there. And they have good livestock. Those are the things that are important.”
The event, which is held Aug. 24 and will be aired via tape delay by ESPN, won’t change much other than the addition of an opening to the performance.
“We’ll work on an opening, a big splash,” Abbott said. “Other than that, we’ll put on the same great show we have been.”
The impact of having the event televised on a national scale goes far beyond the bounds of Thunderbird Arena’s floor.
“The impact this will have on Kitsap County is huge for us,” Abbott said.
With additional revenues projected to go up directly thanks to more people, the area also stands to benefit from future tourism thanks to the exposure, and more direct economic stimulation in the form of revenue increases for local hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
The Xtreme Bulls tour, which visits smaller communities such as Bremerton to large metro areas like San Antonio and Houston, pits 40 bull riders against 60 top bulls. Kitsap now will be the eighth tour stop before it travels across the mountains to Ellensburg.