The Big Hat Rodeo bulls had zero empathy for the 5 riders who tried to stay in the “saddle” for 8 seconds at the Ogle County Fair on Friday — including two Polo teens.
Colton Gunder, 18, of Polo was the first competitor out of the chute and was tossed in about 1.5 seconds.
Then Joe Krupski of Cherry Valley and Bernie Schneider of Elkhorn, Wisconsin stayed on top of their bulls a tad longer before they both hit the dirt.
The final rider was thrown, stepped on and then smacked by his bull which earned him a trip to the Mt. Morris Ambulance which was on-site for the event.
The number 4 competitor, Alex Davies, 18, of Polo looked pretty solid until his bull did a major 360 tossing him parallel into the air and eventually unceremoniously to the ground.
“Yeah, I made the first corner on him pretty good, but I lost my feet when he came to the front end and I just saw the ground like 6 feet above. It wasn’t good,” a frustrated Davies said.
Davies has been bull riding for about a year and a half after graduating from Polo High School in 2020. Gunder graduated from Polo in 2021 and the pair have been hitting the rodeo circuit ever since.
“We’ve been everywhere from Minnesota to Oklahoma,” Davis said. “In fact, Colton and I are going back to Oklahoma Aug. 13.”
The duo will be also competing at the Carroll County Fair in Milledgeville on Aug. 5.
“The sixth we are going to the Professional Championship Bullriders in Woodstock, Illinois and then we’ve got Oklahoma,” Davies said.
A packed grandstand watched competitors steer wrestle, barrel race, and team rope, all intertwined with comic relief by rodeo clown Dusty Meyers.
Meyers drove a little brown truck out onto the Harlan Holm Memorial Track which had the letters PMS on its side. “This is a Postal Mail Service,” he told the crowd as he tossed fake packages out the back. “We deliver once a month. I had to get another job last year because I found out ‘rodeo clown’ was not a ‘essential’. ”
Meyers also had a “mock western shootout” with 4 kids from the stands. Each participant was judged on how best they fell when “shot” by the cowboy.
Joseph Sardegna, 11, of Belvidere won when he jumped and flopped to the crowd’s delight.
“Well, I just thought you just kinda die,” he said when asked about his winning strategy.
“I shoot him all the time with paintballs,” said his 19-year-old brother, Robert.
Prior to the start of the rodeo, organizers held a “Riderless Horse Ceremony” in remembrance of Harlan Holm, the president of the Ogle County Fair Board who passed away in 2020.
“Join us as we pay our respects to Harlan,” said the announcer. “You can see on the arena floor that beautiful American quarter horse. And you can see, that tonight, there is no one sitting in that saddle. You see friends, we know our good friend Harlan has moved on to greener pastures.”