The aroma of nachos, popcorn and bulls


YOUNGSTOWN — The smell of nachos and popcorn didn’t stand a chance against the smell of the 58 bulls waiting patiently to throw a brave soul off their back as about 750 people donned their cowboy hats, zipped their boots and let out a big “yee-haw” to watch the Professional Bull Riders Battle of the Bulls event.

Everything from Brooks and Dunn to Big and Rich was played over the loudspeakers Friday night at the Chevrolet Centre as the 19 riders geared up to see who could stay on the bull for more than eight seconds in order to qualify for the Built Ford Tough finals, which will begin in October.

Chris Woodruff, event producer, said the stop in Youngstown was part of PBR’s newest competitive series, which featured both current and upcoming stars. He said the bulls they use in these competitions are tough, and it takes a heck of a rider to stay on them.

“Top Gun is the one to watch out for tonight,” Woodruff said. “Between the horns and the 1,800 pounds of force, it’s rank, vicious, fast and deadly.”

Those are some of the characteristics Ohio native Chance Riley loves about the competition. Riley, 23, from Seville in Medina County, said he has been competing with PBR for two years but has been riding professionally for four years.

Riley said it always has been a dream of his to be a bull rider, so it was no surprise to his family when he started competing professionally. He said it felt great to be riding close to home where loved ones could watch him work his magic.

“It don’t get any better,” Riley said. “Pretty much everyone here knows me or has heard of me. There’s no better place than your hometown.”

He said he’s a regular on the tour, and he drives himself to every event. He was in Youngstown just for Friday. Saturday, he'll be hightailing it to Louisville, Ky., he said.

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