For attendees, the rodeo is an exciting evening out, but for the contestants and bullfighters it is a way of life. Every time a bullfighter enters the arena, the air is thick with both thrills and threats. After all, the bullfighter is the only thing standing between a cowboy and over 2,000 pounds of animal aggression. Tonight and tomorrow, it is the bullfighters themselves who become the stars of the show.
The World Championship Bullfight Finals and Concert will take over Hardy Murphy Coliseum Friday and Saturday night, starting at 6 p.m. The band Ricochet will perform on Friday and David Ball will perform on Saturday. This will be the sixth year for Ardmore to host the event, which was previously held in Ada. Tickets are $15 for adults and free for children 12 and under.
Deanna Crawford, special project analyst with the Chickasaw Nation, described how the two-day event unfolds.
“The concert starts at 6:30 and the bullfight is at 7:30,” Crawford said. “Each night we have five rounds with three guys in each round. On Saturday night we have the five rounds and then the top five come back for the championship round.
It’s free style bull fighting like you would see in a rodeo. It’s kind of like the clown that protects the participant out doing his event.” She then pointed out the bullfighters’ bravery in the face of very aggressive bulls. “They get ran over and some of them can even end up going to the hospital.”
In addition to the excitement of the bullfights and the concert, other special guests are scheduled to appear. Taylor Spears, 2018 Miss Rodeo Oklahoma, will be in attendance, and John Payne AKA the One Armed Bandit will entertain attendees between sets.
“He’s called the One Armed Bandit because he literally has one arm,” Crawford said. She also said that while he sometimes even tells the story of how he lost his arm, his show is always entertaining and engaging. He’s been know to bring buffalo and zebras to the show, though she is unsure what he will be bringing this year.
Typically he performs after the third round on Friday night and after the fifth round on Saturday, which helps pump up the crowd for the championship round.
Crawford said that thousands come each year to the show and the kids particularly enjoy it.
“That’s really the whole reason we do it,” Crawford said. “We’re just giving back to the community.”