Bay City Bull Blast attendance down from last year
Oct. 24, 2012 at 5:24 a.m.
Kenzie Brown had never ridden a sheep before in her life.
Her light blue painted nails danced over her riding helmet's metal grill as she waited in line with about 30 other 5-year-olds at the Bay City Bull Blast.
Like Brown, many of the children there had never been mutton-bustin' before Saturday.
"Just gotta hold tight and win," said Kenzie as she clutched her volunteer escort's hand.
The Bay City Bull Blast returned to the Matagorda County Fairgrounds for its 17th time since the Matagorda County Fair and Livestock Association founded the event as a fundraiser for local scholarships.
"I think its important for us to be involved with our youth because the county doesn't have anything else to offer our youth," said fair manager Julie Culver.
The number of attendants - about 1,900 - were down from last year by 600 spectators.
"We were competing with other fairs this weekend so the crowd looks small this year," Culver said. "The economy in Bay City is kind of hard right now."
An average of $20,000 is collected from the bull riding event and another $20,000 comes from the county fair, to make up the grand total of $40,000 in scholarships the association raises each year.
Culver said the total operations costs for the Bull Blast is about $26,000.
"Everything we make here goes to the scholarship fund," Culver said.
Over by the bull riding pen, Brazilian rider Alexandre Cardozo's hands are trembling.
The 22-year-old rider knelt in prayer against a wall after riding a black bull that weighed anywhere from 2,000 to 3,300 pounds.
"I do it for the adrenaline," explained Cardozo in broken Spanish through his native Portuguese. "When it comes to bull riding there is no plan B, this is my life."
Like Cardozo, Bay City native and celebrity Clayton Foltyn said he prays each time he rides.
Foltyn came in first place overall with a total of 173 points - beating Cardozo by 2.5 points.
"I've been hurt all year," Foltyn said.
The hometown hero walked away with a $5,000 purse and was one more competition closer to the Championship Bull Riding Horizon finals, where he could win up to $150,000.
Bull riding veteran Ronny Kitchens, who placed ninth in Saturday's competition, said he's been riding bulls for the past 32 years and has had 18 orthopedic surgeries.
"Ride the bad bulls and they'll pay you," Kitchens said. "This chose me, I don't know anything else."