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Bullnanza makes a comeback at Lazy E, which 'has quite frankly saved rodeo this year'

Lee Akin of Weatherford rides Focus during the 2004 Bullnanza at the Lazy E Arena. That year Akin won Bullnanza, which is making its return in more than a decade to the arena near Guthrie on Friday and Saturday. [THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES]
Lee Akin of Weatherford rides Focus during the 2004 Bullnanza at the Lazy E Arena. That year Akin won Bullnanza, which is making its return in more than a decade to the arena near Guthrie on Friday and Saturday. [THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES]

Bullnanza returns to the Lazy E Arena near Guthrie on Friday and Saturday.

When Bullnanza began at the Lazy E Arena in 1989, it was one of the first major standalone bull riding events in the country. The success of the event at the Lazy E Arena led to Bullnanzas in other cities by Lazy E productions.

In 1992, the PBR was formed and had its inaugural season two years later. Bullnanza became a sanctioned PBR event for more than a decade at the Lazy E Arena, but the name changed when the PBR moved the venue to downtown Oklahoma City.

"It is fair to say Bullnanza was part of the true birth and growth of standalone bull riding," said Scott Davis, vice president of the World Champions Rodeo Alliance. "Certainly the successes at the Lazy E encouraged the development of the sport to what it is today."

There hasn't been a Bullnanza at the Lazy E Arena since 2009, but as COVID-19 has forced the PBR to rearrange its schedule and find venues where it can hold events, it is bringing back Bullnanza this year.

The PBR's "Unleash The Beast" event will begin Friday at 7:45 p.m. and continue Saturday at 12:45 p.m. The PBR also is partnering with the World Champions Rodeo Alliance, which launched in 2018, for a rodeo Saturday night at the Lazy E Arena.

The $400,000-plus rodeo will begin at 7 p.m. It will include all the normal rodeo events plus breakaway roping for cowgirls.

Fans are allowed to attend, but seating capacity at the Lazy E Arena will be limited to 50%.

Bullnanza at the Lazy E Arena wasn't supposed to be part of the PBR Tour this season, but COVID-19 interrupted the schedule. Following a 41-day hiatus, the PBR’s premier series was the first major professional sport to return to competition, holding three made-for-TV events in April and May at the Lazy E Arena that was closed to fans.

Last weekend the PBR welcomed fans back for the first time in Bismarck, North Dakota, an event won by Konawa bull rider Colten Jesse. Last weekend's event was originally scheduled for Tulsa but canceled because of COVID-19 guidelines.

Now, PBR's second elite series tour stop in Oklahoma will be at the Lazy E Arena, which has hosted several major events this year that were moved to the privately-owned facility east of Guthrie because of the pandemic. The PBR, the Bob Feist Invitational team roping and the National High School Finals Rodeo are just a few of the events that relocated to the Lazy E Arena.

"The Lazy E has quite frankly saved rodeo this year," Davis said.

The WCRA was forced to cancel its major rodeos this year because of COVID-19, including one scheduled at the Lazy E Arena in May, but in recent weeks the WCRA organized Saturday night's event "to try to host something of size and stature in these challenging times," Davis said.

Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›

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