Sunday’s Ronan Pioneer Days open rodeo drew spectators eager to witness the wild and always unpredictable wild buffalo ride. The fact riding rough stock is quite treacherous didn’t give six adventurous crowd members a moment of pause from volunteering to ride a buffalo as the grand finale to three days of rodeo action.
Riding a wild buffalo has been as much a Ronan Pioneer Days rodeo tradition as bull and bronc riding, barrel racing, roping and all the events that reflect the hard-working ranchers from pioneer times.
Bo Herak, one of two bull fighters from this year’s rodeo, doesn’t recall a time when there wasn’t a wild buffalo ride at the Pioneer Days Rodeo.
“I actually rode a buffalo like five years ago,” Herak said. “My brother (Jake) actually won it the year after I got second.”
Herak noted the differences between riding a bull versus a buffalo. “Neither are easy, the hide of a buffalo slides and is hard to grip along with the fact it’s like riding a 2×4. A bull bucks and spins, while most buffalo just run. I’d say a bull is harder to ride but both are difficult. A buffalo wants to kick you where’s a bull would rather have you under his head and slamming you with his head and horns.”
Andrew Blowers, Garrett O’Connor, Keith Edmondson, Clayton Taylor, Edwina MorningOwl and Jerod Black were this year’s contestants.
“I love buffalo. They are my favorite animal on the whole planet earth,” said Edmondson. “After seeing a guy taunt a buffalo the other day, it was insane. I am like nah man, if I get a chance to get up close to those guys, to be able to do anything with them, I am up for it.”
The show did not disappoint as each buffalo unseated its thrill-seeking rider before the eight second time barrier was reached.
O’Connor rode the longest taking first place with a time of 2.46 seconds, while Edmondson finished second with time of 2.45 seconds.
“Oh, man that was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had in my entire life,” Edmondson said of his ride. “The landing was a little hard. I haven’t been hit that hard since I played football. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”