The Professional Bull Riders came to New York this weekend to kick off their 2007 Built Ford Tough Series, bringing four rounds of bull-riding, featuring the country's top 45 riders and some of the industry's best bucking bulls in four rounds of excitement. New York's Rima Suqi — you know her as the magazine's Best Bets editor, but she's also, as it turns out, a major bull-riding fan — was there, and, after the jump, she reports back on the fifteen ways this weekend at the Garden was different from all other weekends at the Garden.
1. The unmistakable smell of prime fertilizer — that would be, quite literally, bull shit — that accosted you the minute you entered the building.
2. An influx of ten-gallon hats like Manhattan hasn't seen since the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, circa 1980.
3. Thick layers of dirt covering what we like to think of as the Knicks' home court.
4. Men in chaps who weren't strippers.
5. Bulls. Lots of big, strong, frothing-at-the-mouth bulls, thankfully in pens.
6. With, er, interesting names including Sir Patrick, Sunshine, Peanuts, Droopy, and Bond, James Bond.
7. Competitors with names like Cody, Cory, Colby, and Beau.
8. Many of whom had huge wads of chewing tobacco stuck in their cheeks.
9. Just Coke for sale. No Diet Coke.
10. A prayer before the singing of the national anthem.
11. The unfurling of the largest American flag most had ever seen. It hung from the top rafters of the Garden down to the floor.
12. Sponsors most Manhattanites have never heard of: Rocky Boots, Branson Tractors, B&W Trailer Hitches, Ranchers Express, Cabela, and Daisy Airguns. Oh, and the U.S. Army, whose representatives, compared to the bull riders, didn't seem all that manly.
13. The halftime show: a Rodeo entertainer, riding in a miniature tank, using an air gun to shoot T-shirts into the crowd.
14. The big fan giveaway: a gift certificate to the Cabela Catalog, won by a woman from Connecticut who, judging from the look of horror on her face, doesn't plan on ordering any hunting or fishing gear anytime soon. Perhaps she'll be tempted by some of the catalog's home-furnishings offerings (a camouflage sofa, for example).
15. Nineteen-year-old grand-prize winner J.B. Mauney, who took home $24,500. What does he plan to do with it? "Put it in the bank."