Jake Booco’s bull riders return to Routt County Fair Thursday | SteamboatToday.com

Jake Booco’s bull riders return to Routt County Fair Thursday

Dillon Kujala, from Burns, flies far off his bull, Funky Monkey, during the 2016 Jake Booco Invitational Bull Riding at the Routt County Fair in Hayden.

There are things you can control, Jake Booco said.

The long-time Hayden-based professional bull rider, who is nearly four years into playing host to his own bull riding event as a part of the Routt County Fair, said the cowboys and bulls will take to the dirt at 7:30 p.m. Thursday thanks in part to the lessons he's learned over those years, about attracting sponsors and riders and fans.

Then, he said, there are things you can't control.

Last year's event was delayed when another call required the on-site ambulance to leave, then again when a fuse burned out in the sound system.

It could rain. Cowboys could get lost en route. The bulls could decide to stroll around the pen rather than buck wildly.

Four years in, Booco said he's learned to manage as much of the former as he can, and he's also learned to weather the latter.

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"There are a lot of moving parts," he said. "It always works out. It gets pretty stressful at times, but I have a lot of help."

Tickets for the Jake Booco Bull Riding event will cost $15 for fans older than 13 and $15 for those 4 to 12. The action will start at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden at 6 p.m. with a calcutta auction. The bulls will then launch into the ring starting at 7:30 p.m., and there will be plenty of bucking.

One of the things Booco said he can help control is the payout for the winners. This year, $2,500 will be kicked back into the pot in addition to the entry fees cowboys already pay.

He's hoping that will result in a winner's prize of about $2,300, and that at least the top four riders will walk away with more than $1,000.

That's enough to catch the eye of many bull riders. At one point Booco had nearly 60 pledged to come. A season of injuries has reduced that number to 40, but, between the long round and the short round, that should still be more than enough, making for about 55 or 60 bulls in what he estimates to be a little more than a two-hour performance.

"That money, that's what attracts your big names," he said. "That'll draw some of the top Mountain State circuit guys. We have one PBR World Finals qualifier, and I've got some other great bull riders coming, too."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9.

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