Count on Bull-A-Rama for western-style entertainment

Count on Bull-A-Rama for western-style entertainment
Vermillion, nestled about as far south and east as you can get in South Dakota, usually isn't identified as a Wild West community.

That doesn't mean that people who live in these parts don't like to be entertained by cowboys testing their physical prowess by trying to ride a huge bucking bull.

That's one of the reasons that Bull-A-Rama, sponsored by the Coyote Country Rodeo in Vermillion, has enjoyed years of success.


"This will be our 13th year of hosting the event," said Brooks Goeden, secretary/ treasurer of Coyote Country Rodeo, who became involved with the organization about seven years ago.

The three-day event kicks off Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. with the unloading of the bulls at the Clay County Rodeo Grounds. There will be free admission, food and drink available.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, the Pump 'n Pak in Vermillion will sponsor "The Bull Stops Here!" There will be bulls, bull fighters, clowns, bull riders, horse rides, mutton busting registration, give aways, raffles, and an art display and sale featuring the Western art of Ray Kelly.

The Bull-A-Rama competition begins that evening at 7 p.m. at the rodeo grounds, located two miles west of Vermillion on Timber Road.Rodeo Grounds, two miles west of Vermillion on Timber Road.

There will be a fireworks display from Fireworks Unlimited, Inc., and a dance with music provided by the Rocking H Country Band. Advanced tickets for this event are available. For more information call the VCDC at 624-5571.

Bull-A-Rama will conclude Sunday, Aug. 27, starting at 11 a.m., with a trail ride along the Missouri River. Lunch will follow this free will donation event.

One of the biggest changes the event has seen over the years is its change in location to the Clay County Park Rodeo Grounds.

Bull-A-Rama used to be held in Vermillion in the arena of the Clay County Fairgrounds.

"I wouldn't say the different location is necessarily better," Goeden said. "It's probably very similar to our original location. But the reason we moved it out the Clay County Park was there was an existing rodeo grounds that was built in the late '60s or early '70s that used to be out there and was very popular, but it went by the wayside and kind of got forgotten about.

"Our goal was to revive those grounds and get them back to their old glory days, and we're getting close to that goal," Goeden said. "The Clay County Park Board was really excited about the idea and backed us on that, so we went ahead and gave it a go."

Bull-A-Rama isn't a full-scaled rodeo. Its efforts are concentrated on, as the name implies, bull riding.

"In a rodeo, bull riding is probably the most exciting event," Goeden said. "Some people might have different opinions on that, but everybody really likes that part of the actual rodeo."

Time is also a factor. Bull-A-Rama is designed to allow enough time for bull riding and not much else.

"We also have mutton bustin.' That's the sheep that the little kids ride, and that's always a lot of fun."

Providing the livestock once again for this year's Bull-A-Rama will be Chad Smith of Sydney, IA.

"He's provided our stock for the last three years. He's very well known in the business; the guy is very good businessman, and he puts on a really good show," Goeden said. "He puts together all the cowboys that come up for it, he brings the bulls, he lines up the rodeo clowns and the barrel men and the entertainment for the actual bull ride. He sure helps us out a lot."

The Bull-A-Rama is hardly a local event. Some cowboys travel a great distance just to compete here.

"For the last two years, we've had a gentleman from Connecticut that has come to Vermillion to ride in the show," Goeden said. "I would say that half of the cowboys are local guys, and the other half travel quite a ways. We had cowboys last year from Illinois, Connecticut, Missouri and Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas."

The club has a $1,000 purse, which goes to the top rider of the evening. Depending on the number of riders, Coyote Country Rodeo may have to hold a second go-round, and then average the scores to determine the top rider.

"Usually we pay out three places for that, but that's all taken care of by the stock contractor," Goeden said.

He believes Bull-A-Rama is growing in popularity, even though it's not held in the heart of ranch country.

"The rodeo is definitely alive in Vermillion," Goeden said. "In southeast South Dakota, there's not a lot of ranches, but there are a lot of people who enjoying riding horses, and this is one of those sports that appeals to just about everybody."

It's not unusual for Coyote Country Rodeo members to hear positive comments from local citizens who look forward to the next Bull-A-Rama event.

"The committee members that we have – most of them have been there since day one, and I don't see them letting this ever die by any means," Goeden said.

In fact, the committee keeps looking at ways to enhance the event. In the future, there may be a horse trail near the rodeo arena.

"Every year that we add something, it's going to get more and more popular out there," he said.

There's no electric power near the grounds, but future plans may include updated rest room facilities and electric power for cowboys and their horses who are welcome to spend the night housed in their horse trailers.

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