OKEECHOBEE – Professional Bull Riders (PBR) is hosting its premiere Unleash The Beast series in Okeechobee for the first time ever this weekend.
On Jan. 30 and 31 the top 30 bull riders will be inside the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center squaring off with each other and the biggest bulls on the planet. The two-day event will culminate in a championship at noon on Jan. 31 scheduled to be broadcast on CBS.
PBR’s premiere series is making its stop in Okeechobee due in part to an effort by the organization to visit some of the most quintessential venues in the nation.
“We set out in the first part of the year to tour and visit iconic rodeo venues across the country,” said PBR Chief Marketing Officer Kosha Irby, “So we started in Ocala and made our way to Arcadia. Now we’re coming to Okeechobee. After we leave here we’ll start hitting those iconic rodeo venues in Texas and Arizona. We wanted to go back to our roots. We’re proud of the opportunity we’re creating to give people in Okeechobee the best bull riding they’re ever going to see.”
Some locals in Okeechobee were caught off guard by the price of tickets at the PBR event. A few were used to the prices at the smaller, local, low-key rodeos held in the area as opposed to the entry price of $90 for a two-day ticket at the PBR event. Irby says the difference between those smaller rodeos and this national event is the same difference between a high school football game and a NFL game. The competition level and production value is going to be on another level than what many will get at your average rodeo.
“The entertainment value, bull power, and the cowboys that we’re bringing to this event makes it more than your average everyday rodeo,” explained Irby. “The top bull riders in the world mounting the top bulls in the world is going to make for one exciting event.”
One of the logistical hurdles PBR had to face this year was finding a way to safely hold competitions in the middle of a pandemic.
“First and foremost we strive to never bring COVID-19 into a market,” said Irby. “We start with out staff we’re bringing in and require everyone to take a test prior to arriving. Once we’re there we have daily screening. Everyone on our staff is going to wear masks and follow protocols we’ve had in place.”
“For fans we’re trying to limit contact as much as possible,” continued Irby. “We’re going to encourage fans to sit in pods of their own groups. Encourage them to follow local and CDC guidelines. And if you’re not feeling well or have been exposed to COVID-19, we’re asking that you stay home.”