LUMBER BRIDGE — The poor bull rider who was thrown in front of an advertisement for a leather company might have been too distracted by the bovine charging at his backside to appreciate the irony of the situation.
Raging bulls stole the show during the second annual National Day of the Cowboy rodeo at Seven Branch Farm in Lumber Bridge. The rodeo, which ran from July 24 to 26, was one of several cowboy-themed events that took place across the country.
National Day of the Cowboy was established to “celebrate the contribution of the cowboy and cowgirl to America’s culture and heritage,” according to a mission statement. The annual observance is rooted in a resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008.
After taking part in some of the festivities outside North Carolina, Buddy Blackman decided in 2014 to orchestrate the state’s first National Day of the Cowboy event at Seven Branch Farm.
“We’ve been out West to other events there and wanted to bring it back East,” said Blackman, who oversees the farm’s arena. “It was a learning experience for us that we greatly improved on this year.”
The previous rodeo was a daylong event, but this year’s installment was spread across a weekend so competitions could be held during the cooler evenings instead of being packed into a single sweltering afternoon. Blackman says the extended schedule lassoed a larger crowd.
“Saturday night there was standing-room only,” he said. “We had about 1,000 people here. You almost couldn’t walk, it was so packed.”
The 35-acre farm received high marks from guests, according to Blackman.
“Some people told me it was much more than what they expected, and they really like our facilities,” he said.
The contestants got more than they expected, as well.
“The talent of our bulls was much better this year,” Blackman said. “They were throwing everybody around, and our bullfighters got beat up pretty good. There were some bumps and bruises, but no one was seriously injured.”
Other competitions included barrel and wagon racing, mounted shooting, fast-draw shooting, trick riding and pistol spinning. Sponsors were Wrangler, Tony Lama, Springleaf Financial, AmeriGas, Sebra, Tandy Leather, Black’s Tire Service, Overton Body Shop, Wilson Off-Road, Operation First Response and Odom Roofing.
Members of Lumber Bridge Volunteer Fire Department collected $5 donations at the entrance and raised more than $2,000.
Seven Branch Farm is located at 260 McGougan Road in Lumber Bridge. For information, visit 7brancharena.com.
Jaymie Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5771 or on Twitter @Jaymie_Baxley.