PBR gets the party started

Ryan Proffitt in Happy Canyon at the Pendleton PBR Classic.

Ticket information:

$24-$44, assigned seating. The ticket window is located outside the main entrance on the west side of Happy Canyon Arena.

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Date, time, place

Monday-Tuesday, Sept. 14-15, 7:30 p.m., Happy Canyon Arena

In 1992, 21 professional bull riders met in an Arizona hotel room to plot the future of their sport.

There’s a good reason bull riding comes last in the rodeo roster, and the slightly crazy cowboys that keep butts in seats were no dummies.

More than two decades later the Professional Bull Riders has grown to include more than 1,200 cowboys from around the world who ride and compete for millions of dollars across the association’s three tour divisions.

But while the PBR’s riders said goodbye to the PRCA long ago, the associations share a symbiotic relationship during the second week of September in Pendleton.

The Round-Up, which begins Wednesday, draws fans from around the world and the PBR gives them something to whet their rodeo appetites during the first two nights of the week.

Calling the PBR an appetizer would be a vast understatement, though.

The two-night event runs as one competition, and riders may enter both contests but cannot combine scores from the two days.

Last year Ben Jones, an Australian rider who now calls Texas home, won his first PBR event in the Happy Canyon Arena after 16 years of trying. He then leapt off his bull and did a “Happy Canyon happy dance” that delighted the crowd of 4,500.

The bulls are the other half of the equation that makes the PBR a hot ticket, and reigning Contractor of the Year Jeff Robinson leads the standings again in 2014.

It’s not uncommon for a few of the riders to stick around for a turn or two out of the Round-Up bucking chutes as well, but the Happy Canyon Arena has a unique appeal as well.

One of the smallest arenas used for a big-ticket PBR event, Happy Canyon Arena’s cozy confines keep the bulls spinning in tight circles while the cheers of the crowd are reflected toward the arena by the awning over the grandstand.

It all comes together for the perfect kick-off to a wild week of nonstop rodeo fun.

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