The audience at the third annual Freestyle Bullfighting event had a little more excitement than they bargained for Saturday night at the Grant County Fairgrounds rodeo arena in John Day.
The Hamsher Fighting Bulls are known for being aggressive and putting on a good show, but this time a couple bulls proved tougher than their pen.
After bullfighters had a few rounds with their four-legged opponents, one bull showed an extra-explosive temper, bucking and head-butting in the chute, and the next bull to come through squeezed out into the arena.
While the crowd in the grandstands was safe, a dozen or more folks watching the bullfights from a long flat bed trailer set up near the bullfighting ring in the arena were on pins and needles for a few long minutes.
Organizer Trever Hamsher said, after the event, the bulls are herd animals — “When they’re by themselves they want to fight, and once they’re together, they’re not as aggressive.”
He let a red bull out, and together the two animals followed bullfighters through a gate they opened, leading to a back pen.
Announcer Chad Nicholson said it was “not in the script.”
People cheered when the bulls were captured, and Nicholson praised the men.
“You’ll meet all kinds of people in your life, but there is only one breed that is a freestyle bullfighter,” he said.
Trever Hamsher announced at the mic that he was out of chutes and out of bulls, and called the event.
Ryker Fenstermaker of Burley, Idaho, and Tyler Lingbeck of Salinas, California, were named co-champions, one receiving a championship buckle and the other a trophy saddle.
Fenstermaker won round one with Tyler Lingbeck taking round two. Zack McVay of La Pine won round three.
The hard luck award went to Garrett Wilkinson of Ogden, Utah.
“I feel blessed it all turned out great,” Hamsher said.
Barrelman and clown Clint “Wolfey” Selvester led a dance-off with children, and 11-year-old Clyde Holliday of John Day was declared the winner. Several youths also competed in a gunny sack race.