MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Features

January 24, 2013

New rodeo comes to town

— The Muskogee Civic Center has seen its share of eclectic events — school science fairs, basketball games, even cupcake wars. But 220 tons of dirt, some cowboys and a bunch of rampaging bovine?

“We’re stepping out of the box,” Civic Center Director Cassandra Gaines said. “We’re working all the time to find new events we can bring to Muskogee.”

The Bull Riders, Inc. National Finals is being held at the Muskogee Civic Center tonight and Saturday. Doors open each night at 6 p.m. and the events start at 7 p.m.

Gaines said the idea for the indoor rodeo, what she calls the first in the Civic Center’s history, was brought to her attention late last year by Blake Burns, with Bull Riders, Inc.

“He presented it to the Civic Center board, and we thought it was a great idea, a way to expand our horizons here,” Gaines said. “We have a great audience here in Muskogee that are eager to try new things, to see new things.”

Troy Hicks, a Civic Center supervisor, said he hoped the rodeo would open new doors, so to speak, for other types of indoor entertainment.

“We could do all kinds of things,” Hicks said. “We can show through this that Muskogee wants different type of events than the usual stuff, and we can keep bringing in visitors from other towns and other states.”

Kade Alberty is one of the riders taking part in the rodeo. Alberty said he has been riding since was a 3-year-old sitting on top of a wild sheep.

“Riding is something you have to love,” Alberty said. “You can’t do it halfway. There aren’t bull riders who don’t love their job, because those people don’t last long.”

Alberty, 19, started to tick off a list of injuries he’s sustained during his career, but stopped part way through the tally. It might be easier to list the body parts he hasn’t injured.

“If I told you the whole list, it would take all day and you probably wouldn’t believe it,” Alberty said. He recently took almost a month off of bull  riding — a rarity for him — to let his body recuperate after a New Year’s Eve event in Fort Worth, Texas.

“It’s a sport that you know you’re going to get hurt in,” Alberty said. “But it’s an adrenaline rush like you wouldn’t believe.”

Burns said one of the highlights of the Friday and Saturday shows is “Bull Poker.”

The idea is simple, four people sit around a card table. A bull is let loose in the arena and the last person sitting at the table wins a $500 poker chip from the Muscogee Creek Nation Casino.

“I don’t think I have to explain how that’s always a big hit,” Burns said. “That’s exciting to watch.”

Aside from the Friday and Saturday night events, the Civic Center is offering morning shows for area children.

There’s a Black History Rodeo at 10 a.m. Friday, Gaines said. The first 500 children through the doors will receive crayons and a rodeo coloring book featuring civic center employees. That event is free to the public, as is a 10 a.m. Saturday “Exceptional Rodeo” for children with special needs.

“We’re going to team up some kids and bull riders,” Burns said. “And let them go through parts of a rodeo, to get a feel for it and to really get close to these bull riders. The kids are going to love it. They’ll even get to ride a real horse with help from the bull riders.”

Burns said $1 of each ticket sold for the Friday and Saturday night events will go to benefit kids with special needs in and around the Muskogee area.

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth

@muskogeephoenix.com.

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