Jim Hardman GMC Truck Southeastern Championship Bull Riding
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St. SW, Gainesville
How much: Friday and Saturday, adults $15 in advance, $17 day of show, $10 children age 12 and younger; Sunday, $15 adults, $6 children, $10 seniors age 55 and older
More info: 770-534-8420
Put your boots on and head over to the Georgia Mountains Center this weekend for the Jim Hardman GMC Truck Southeastern Championship Bull Riding.
Bryan Hope, a promoter and clown for Southeastern Championship Bull Riding, said the association does a lot to prepare for the competition, which will be at the center Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“They’re going to bring in about 28 loads of dirt. They put it down on the arena floor, and it’s going to be about a foot deep all across the floor, and it’ll just be smooth,” said Hope in a phone interview with The Times. “And (Wednesday) they’re going to bring the arena in.”
He said organizers also have to bring in pens for the almost 40 bulls they plan to “buck” over the weekend.
“We’re going to buck about 35 bulls each night, so there will be at least 35, but it’ll be closer to 40, probably,” he said.
Hope said some bulls give bull riders a harder time than others.
“There’s a bull coming called Liquor’s Quicker. He’s pretty tough,” said Hope. Another bull named Code Blue also is one to watch.
So what makes a bull a tough ride?
“A bull that will turn back really fast and kick real high in the back end,” he said. “Those are the bulls that are toughest to ride.”
But then again, the tougher the bull, the higher the scoring potential for the rider.
“The score is a 100-point score, and 50 goes to the bull and 50 goes to the rider, so therefore the guys want the bulls that buck the hardest,” Hope said.
A good ride is also defined by how in control the rider is. Riders hold on with just one hand, and have to stay on for eight seconds.
Hope said sitting in the middle of the bull the whole time — and being in control enough to spur the bull — gets the rider extra points.
“You don’t know which bull you’re going to get until you get here,” Hope said. “It is luck of the draw, so if one bull is a really, really good bull to ride, they sure want to get him so they can ride and they can get as many points as possible.”
According to Hope, the Southeastern Bull Riding Championship can prove to be a stepping stone to the highest level of bull riding, Professional Bull Riders.
“J.B. Mooney’s been here. B.J. Shumacher’s been here,” said Hope. “If you’re in the bull riding business, these are names people recognize.”
Every competition in which riders earn cash brings them closer to the top of their sport, he said.
“They’re also in an association; so in the association they get points for every dollar they win,” he said. “The more money you win, the more (notoriety) you get.”
Hope said other activities entertain the audience during the show, including a “money scramble,” where one audience member comes into the arena to attempt to put more than 1,000 U.S. coins in their pants.
Clown acts will also entertain the audience during the show, including performances by Hope.
“There’ll be two different kinds of clowns,” he said. “One of them is a bullfighter, and that’s the one that runs around and does all the dangerous work, runs in front of the bull and distracts him. That’s for the young and foolish. I’m old and fat and smarter now.”
Hope said he used to fall into that “young and foolish” category. But not anymore.
“I’ve broke some bones. I had to get three vertebrates in my neck fused together, had cartilage taken out of my knee, broke some ribs,” Hope said. “But I haven’t ever really been hurt too bad.”
Although his job is still a little risky — he stays inside the arena for the entire competition — he said he lets another clown take the “bullfighting” role, while he tells jokes and does tricks.
“I just tell jokes and be funny, and I’ve got trick dogs and trick cars and all that kind of stuff,” Hope said.
If you’re wondering about the difference between a bull riding championship and a rodeo, Hope can clear that up.
“At a rodeo, you go and sit and wait two hours for the bull riding. Here, we have two hours’ worth of bull riding.”