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WildThing set to electrify Gallup once again

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Surprises, fun in store for visitors

July has arrived, which means it’s almost time for one of the signature summer events in Gallup.

WildThing Championship BullRiding will be held at Red Rock Park July 12-13. This year marks year 26 where Gallup locals and visitors get to watch what WildThing organizer Larry Peterson calls the number one open bull riding event in the southwest.

“We bring in some of the toughest bucking bulls in the world,” Peterson said in a June 26 phone call.

The riders at WildThing will compete for a share of the prize money of $28,000, with the overall winner taking a $10,000 payday, which Peterson said is one of the largest payouts in southwest bull riding.

These riders will be coming from every direction, Peterson said, including states like California, Oklahoma, Colorado. There will also be top riders from the Navajo Nation, and even some from Canada and Mexico, he added.

“We get a pretty big mix every year,” Peterson said.

Of course, the bull riding is just part of what makes WildThing a Gallup staple. Peterson mentioned the big fireworks show that goes on each night, and that it’s always a hit with the crowds.

In addition to the fireworks, Peterson talked about the other entertainment segments visitors get to watch, including a number of funny men and announcers.

Peterson also brought up the wooly rider competition, which features six wooly riders who have won previous events across the Navajo Nation and will now get to compete for top honors at WildThing.

“They’ve won their spot to get to come ride here,” Peterson said, adding that this means each of the wooly riders is in champion form already.

Then there’s Cowboy Poker, dubbed by Peterson the world’s wildest card game, wherein participants try to play the game while a bull charges around the arena - toward them. The last person sitting is the winner.

“[Cowboy Poker] is always off the hook,” Peterson said.

While there are events that long-time visitors can expect to see, Peterson said that they always have surprises in the bag, and games for the crowd.

Peterson advises visitors to arrive at the event early because there will be pre-show entertainment including a balloon toss, sack race, and they can listen to the music blaring from the speakers.

Rain or shine, the event will go on, said Peterson. He added that even if you’ve been to Wild Thing before, you’re bound to see something new this year.

“If you’ve been to WildThing and seen it, you know how wild and exciting and fun it is,” he said. “If you’ve never been there, you’re missing out.”

By paying for parking and food at the event, visitors will also be helping with a major fundraiser for Manuelito Children’s Home and Gallup Christian School, Peterson added.

Advance tickets can be purchased at Castle Furniture, T&R C-Store, T&R Feed, and Rico Auto Complex with adult tickets $19 and $22 for Friday and Saturday, respectively; and $8 for children’s tickets. Tickets at the gate will cost $25 for adults, and $10 for children ages 6-11.

For more information, visit the WildThing Championship Bullriding facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/wildthing.bullriding/?ref=page_internal.

By Cody Begaye
Sun Correspondent