Big Balls, and Bulls, in Cowtown

World class bull riders come to Fort Worth to test their skills.

Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys sing about a big ball in Cowtown, but it's a different kind of dance that comes to Fort Worth Saturday night.

Forty-five of the world's best bull riders will see if they have what it takes to stay put for eight seconds on top of some of the meanest bulls in the business. 

"This is the best set of bulls a guy will ever see," said 23-year-old bull rider Wes Silcox.   "They're like people. They all have their own personality," added Tuff Hedeman, a 4-time world champion bull rider from Morgan City.

Hedeman is on the business side of the sport now.  His Tuff Hedeman Bull Riding Challenge is in its 17th year, tempting riders  with $50,000 in prize money. 

"I've tried the job deal and never get ahead," said 24-year-old Kansas native Cooper Kanngiesser as he explained why he chose to ride bulls to pay the bills. 

"You can be in debt $1,000 and in one weekend, go up $20,000 to $30,000.  This is all I ever wanted to do," said Kanngiesser. 

Competitor and friend, Silcox described it as "too lazy to work, I guess.  It's just what we wanna do." 

For how long? 

"As long as I can, and as soon as I'm not winning money, that's when I'll quit," said Silcox.  

Last year, Silcox earned about $130,000 with half going to cover expenses.  He and Kanngiesser also have sponsors just like drivers on the NASCAR curcuit.

Spending eight seconds on a 2,500 pound beast with sharp-tipped horns and no rhyme or reason to its spins is dangerous.  Silcox and Kanngiesser have had broken legs and can describe the ride in which it happened in detail.  Yet, they understand crowds love to watch their dance with danger. 

"Everybody's waitin' for a train wreck," said Silcox.  And in the Saturday night showdown, Kanngiesser promised it will be "nothing but action packed."

The Tuff Hedeman Challenge at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth kicks off with a 5 p.m. Saturday concert by former Nashville Star contestant Jason Meadows, performing his song 100%% Cowboy.  The bull riding starts at 8 p.m., and Charlie Robison follows it up with a concert and some dancin' in the dirt.  Tickets available through Ticketmaster.

Contact Us