SIOUX CITY - Fans streamed into the Tyson Events Center Saturday, anxious for the adrenaline-pumping bucking action at the Rawhide Bull Riding Challenge.
For Jace Bleil, it was a chance to catch a glimpse of something he'd like to do some day.
No rodeo newbie, the 10-year-old boy from Bronson, Iowa, and his younger sister, Bailey, have competed in junior rodeo events "since we were 3."
Right now he ropes calves and ties goats, but someday he'd like to follow in his grandfather's bootsteps ... right onto the back of a bull. His mother, Carla Bleil, has other ideas.
"Grandpa'd like to see him do this, but mom, not so much," she said with a laugh.
Saturday's event at the Tyson Events Center was an unusual chance for the Bleil family, who used to rodeo year-round in Arizona, and other fans to catch a winter event in Iowa. For the riders, it was one of the few opportunities to ride bulls and make some money.
Bull fighter Tyler Croxell said all seasons have their advantages. The 23-year-old has been putting himself between the competitors and the bulls since he quit riding five years ago. It's never an easy sport, he said, regardless of what season it is.
Summer is rodeo's busy season in the northern Plains. The bulls - and bull riders - are constantly on the road, traveling from event to event. Winter is their off season.
"In the winter it's hard because there ain't as many to go to," said Croxell, of Griswold, Iowa. "In the summer, it's hard because you're gone all the time (and) you're sore."
Rider Ty Redman thinks bulls are easier to ride in the winter.
"You can tell it's in the winter, because the bulls are getting fat ... not used to being bucked," Redman said
The 25-year-old Missouri man isn't throwing stones at his opponents. Just as the bulls stand around in the pasture all winter, Redman claims he "drinks beer, gets fat" when he's not out on the road.
The Sioux City event falls at the end of Redman's schedule, providing a much-needed chance for him to earn enough money to stay in the hunt for the year-end finals.
Only the top 25 riders in earnings get invited to the finale in April in St. Joseph, Mo. Redman's currently on the list, but not nearly as high up as he'd like to be. With only a few more events on this year's schedule, Redman said he needed to do one thing in Sioux City.