The 2022 Sherburne County Fair will have a western feel this year.
One of the newest events at the fair will be a show put on by Rice Bull Riding, a bull riding organization operated by Minnesota native Dave Rice, his wife Christina, and his son Dalton.
Rice Bull Riding is based in Princeton, Minnesota and Highlandville, Missouri. There are over 100 bulls in the company, including award-winning Professional Bull Riding bulls. All Rice Bull Riding events are professionally sanctioned.
Dave Rice said one of the biggest misconceptions about bull riding is that the animals are treated poorly. These bulls are not.
“We treat them like athletes,” Rice said. “There’s no mistreatment. They love what they do…These guys are special animals. They’re part of our family. When I get up in the morning, our bulls get fed before we cook our own breakfast. They’re extremely well-cared for.”
The show will feature both bull riding and mutton busting on Friday, July 15, at 7 p.m. at the Sherburne County Fairgrounds.
Pedro Fonseca, a native of Brazil, is one of the bull riders that competes with Rice Bull Riding. He moved to Elk River from Brazil in 2018. While his native country is mainly known for soccer, there is a gaucho or cowboy culture in the south of the country that is heavily influenced by Brazil’s neighbors, Argentina and Uruguay.
Fonseca, 29, said he began bull riding when he was 15 years old.
“For 10 years, it was my only thing to do in life,” Fonseca said. “I was athletic on it. I dedicated my whole life for bull riding. Some opportunities [came] up and I started working in bull riding. Nowadays, I do both. I have a good experience [with] it and a good life story behind it. Everything that I know and that I have has come from the rodeo.”
Bull riding is a sport with centuries of history. The sport has roots in the ancient Minoan society in present-day Greece as well as Mexican equestirian contacts and Mexican ranching known as charreada. Originally in the 16th century, a contest known as Jaripeo developed in Mexico. It was the earliest form of bull riding, where riders rode their bulls to death. However, the tradition became less deadly and milder, as riders rode their bulls until they stopped bucking, which is now the form that is used today. A rider must remain on the bull for at least eight seconds in order to receive a score. Both the bull and the rider are scored and each can receive a maximum of 50 points for a grand total of 100 points.
Fonseca has known Rice for several years. Rice Bull Riding puts on approximately 50 shows each summer.
“It’s a big family of guys,” he said. “We’ve always been together through the rodeo, so it’s such a good company to work with. They are nice.”
Rice said the show at the Sherburne County Fair should be a fun experience for all, as there will also be mutton taming for kids and a professional rodeo clown during the show. The first 15 kids who weigh 55 pounds or less will be able to ride sheep two hours before the show.
“It’s not just bull riding,” Rice said. “We’re going to have a grand entry with some fire and pyrotechnics and bucking bulls.”
Tickets for the Sherburne County Fair are $3 for adults and children 6 years of age and older and free for children under 6.