For some, securing a seat for the Portage County-Randolph Fair's first bull riding competition in 13 years might have been harder than riding one of the creatures themselves.
By 8 p.m. Thursday, a small line had formed outside the grandstands as would-be spectators waited for some of the capacity crowd of 4,200 to leave so they might gain entrance.
Charlie Breiding, president of the fair's board of directors for 19 years, said he was hopeful for such a large turnout. He said concerts have been featured more the past several years, but as attendance for those events waned somewhat, the board decided to reintroduce the bull riding event -- and at no cost to patrons.
"That way, we can pay back all the people in Portage County who support us at the fair every year," he said.
Announcer Ronnie Lee, a Marysville native who travels to between 30 to 50 rodeos and bull riding competitions a year, likes to remind his audience of the significance of such sporting events, which trace their roots back to 19th century America.
"It's not just entertainment, it's American heritage," he said. "What we like to do is bring the Western past alive before the eyes of a modern day crowd."
Akronites Donald and Latisha Shaffer and their four children were among those in attendance.
Donald said he was excited to see some big buckers.
"It's just something new and different," he said. "We're hoping to see some real action."
Steven and Jodie Dillner brought their three children. Steven said his kids were eager to see bull riding in person.
"I've only ever seen this before on TV," said the couple's 10-year-old son Logan.
Riders were equally excited to compete for the grand prize, which hovers around $1,500.
The first few riders Thursday were thrown off early. One was escorted out of the ring by paramedics with a broken leg.
The audience gasped as the massive bull bucked in the air, violently whipping their riders to and fro.
Erin Lee, a 21-year-old competitor from Adrian, Mich, said he loves the rush of bull riding and the money, but he really does it for "the beer and the women."
"There just ain't nothing else like it," said Shane Stiffler, a 23-year-old rider from Smokerun, Pa. who competed Thursday with a broken arm.
He said his injury makes no difference in competing.
"You can't make no money at home," he said with a laugh.
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