Mechanical Bull Riding comes to Dillon this weekend

M.P. Regan
Wednesday, July 22, 2020

An event inspired by the viewing of a movie more than 40 years ago will come to Dillon this weekend to offer people the chance to compete for a world championship.

“I wanted to put on an event like this ever since I saw “Urban Cowboy,” said George Chicha of the 1980 film that inspired him to launch the Mechanical Bull Riders World Championship (MBRWC) just short of four decades later.

“It just took me a few years to get it going,” laughed Chicha, who staged the first MBRWC last year in various locations around the country.

“I finally decided to run it last year because I was running out of time. I had to do it and get it off my bucket list,” said Chicha of an event that offers cowboys and cowgirls, as well as non-cowboys and non-cowgirls, the chance to scratch ‘compete in a mechanical bull riding contest’ off their bucket lists this weekend in Dillon at the sole MBRWC qualifier event in the Rocky Mountain Region this year, set for Friday–Saturday, July 24–25, at the Frontier Event Center (formerly Shopko on East Helena Street in Dillon).

“I was in my prime, 18 years old, when Urban Cowboy came out. Those mechanical bulls are nothing like the real thing, but they’re fun,” said Rooster Reynolds, the famed veteran cowboy from Twin Bridges who figures he’s ridden more than three dozen real bulls in his long rodeo career, which compelled the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame to honor him with a Legends Award in 2018.

“We had some friends around here with mechanical bulls in their garages. They were called El Toros back then. Everybody rode them,” recalled Reynolds, adding that the differences between jumping onto a mechanical bull versus riding the real thing could make this weekend’s event more appealing for most.

“You’re not going to get hung up, you’re not gonna get hooked and you’re not gonna get stepped on, therefore you don’t have fear,” said Reynolds of the hazards of real bull riding that mechanical bull riders don’t have to worry about.

“If you get thrown off, you’ll land on something soft, not the hard ground,” added Reynolds, who said he may come down to Dillon on Friday to ride the mechanical bull and advised those who do to warm up their core muscles before getting into its saddle.

“That mechanical bull will go left and then right on you, so it will stretch your groin muscles most if you’re not used to it.”

People can get used to riding a mechanical bull during practice runs, starting at 1 p.m. on Friday.

The competition rounds of the MBRWC qualifier will start at 5 p.m. on Saturday and continue as long as necessary, with its duration—and total of its prize money—dependent on how many riders compete.

The winner of that prize money will be the rider who simply stays up the longest on the mechanical bull before getting bucked off.

“This is an endurance ride,” noted Reynolds of the parameters of this weekend’s mechanical bull riding event.

“I’m thinking that for like the first 30 or 40 seconds it’s probably going to be pretty easy, but then they’ll make it tougher. That’s the thing about the mechanical bulls I’ve been on—they can throw you off when they want to. You can’t beat mechanical power,” said Reynolds, a former steer wrestling world champion who still competes in rodeo roping events.

“It gets pretty exciting,” commented Chicha, of the competition he says emphasizes strength, balance, focus, perception, reaction, determination and endurance.

“Anybody can win this,” said Chicha of the MBRWC, the inaugural running of which was won by a woman last year, when another woman placed fourth.

“If you’re in good shape and can ride or hike, you can potentially win this. I’m 73, and I wasn’t organizing it I’d be competiting in it.”

Everyone who competes in this weekend’s MBRWC qualifier in Dillon, said Chicha, will automatically gain a spot in the MBRWC finals to be held later this year.

Chicha advised that social distancing and other coronavirus precautions will be observed at the event.

“We’re going to be emphasizing mask and hand sanitizers. We’re going to have somebody get up on the mechanical bull to clean the handle after every rider. We’ll be encouraging six feet away and masks,” said Chicha, who will set up boundaries around the mechanical bull to keep spectators from getting too close to the riders.

For more information on the Mechanical Bull Riders World Championship qualifier set for Dillon on Saturday, July 25, go online to or the event’s Facebook page, email or call 509-991-2956.