Professional Bull Riders Come to Michigan January 19-20

Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI — January 5, 2024

If you are a fan of Professional Bull Riders (PBR), your only opportunity to see these incredible athletes in Michigan is set for two weeks from today. You will have to drive a little bit, but ask anyone who has seen one of these events and they will tell you it’s worth it.

The PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour makes a stop in Grand Rapids on January 19-20, 2024 at Van Andel Arena. We had an opportunity to cover one of their events a couple of years ago and these guys put on a fabulous show.

What is Professional Bull Riding

“The concept is simple enough: match the world’s best bull-riding athletes against the toughest animal athletes on the planet in an 8-second man versus beast duel. Get ready for an adrenaline-charged spectacle that’ll have you at the edge of your seat! Experience the thrill as rising stars, budding talents, and legendary riders face off against incredible animal athletes in a heart-pounding whirlwind of pure excitement. It’s a relentless showcase of raw skill, courage, and sheer determination that’ll leave you breathless!

Of course, it’s only simple until you strap a tough and determined 159-pound cowboy to the back of a temperamental 2,000-pound bull. The result is unparalleled action where danger, drama, and heroic accomplishments are just a part of the game.” That’s how the PBR describes themselves.

Lasco Press Photo


Single-day tickets start at $27, and full weekend passes are available for Friday and Saturday sessions. Purchase online through PBR via Ticketmaster.

In appreciation of the courage and dedication shown by our armed forces and first responders, PBR has joined forces with GOVX to extend special discounts of up to 35% off on tickets for select events including Grand Rapids.

A Little History

This ain’t no rodeo. Bull riding has traditionally been a part of the seven events that make up a conventional rodeo. It is by far the most popular part of cowboys displaying their skills.

Again, according to, PBR (Professional Bull Riders) is strictly bull riding, and the first step is just staying on the bull. There are no timeouts. No four-corners offense. No taking a knee. No towels to throw in. There is only one cowboy, one bull, and 8 desperate seconds.

In 1992, 20 cowboys broke from the rodeo and invested $1,000 each to pursue a dream of a standalone league dedicated to bull riding. In the 27 years since, the PBR has grown into a global phenomenon that has awarded more than $185 million in prize money.

In 1995, more than 310,000 fans attended PBR events across the nation. Today the PBR
attracts more than 3 million live event attendees each year around the world.

Bull Facts

Now, before someone starts with “those poor animals” stuff, here are some facts about the animal athletes that are no bull.

  • Roughly 120,000 pounds of bull are brought to each arena on a weekly basis. (Based on a two-day event.)
  • Genetically bred bulls begin bucking at two or three years of age. Though a bucking bull is often in his prime as an athlete around age five or six, many bulls buck past the age of 10 and then retire to stud. The average bovine not in the PBR has a three-year lifespan.
  • The bulls in the PBR receive excellent care and are the main draw to many fans; in some seasons official bull merchandise has outsold cowboy gear.

It’s Quite a Ride

Riding a bull is more than just staying on its back for eight seconds. Each ride is worth up to 100 points: 50 points for the bull and 50 points for the rider if he successfully rides the bull for 8 seconds. Four judges award up to 25 points each to the rider and the bull. All four of the judges’ scores are combined and then divided by two for the official score.

Half of the 100 points possible are based on the performance of the bull and how difficult he is to ride. Judges look for bulls with speed, power, and drop in the front end; kick in the back end, direction changes, and body rolls. A body roll occurs when a bull is in the air and kicks either his hind hooves or all four hooves to the side. The more of these characteristics a bull displays during a ride, the higher the degree of difficulty. Judges are allowed to award a cowboy a “re-ride” if they feel the bull did not perform at the level of other bulls in the competition and did not give the rider a fair chance to earn a high score.

The other 50 points are based on how adept the rider is. Judges look for constant control and good body position throughout the ride. Spurring the bull is not required, but extra style points are awarded for doing so. (The spurs are dull and do not hurt the bull whose hide is seven times as thick as human skin.)

The rider must stay aboard the bull for 8 seconds to receive a score. The clock begins when the bull’s shoulder or hip crosses the plane of the bucking chute and stops when the bull rider’s hand comes out of the rope or he touches the ground. The bull rider must ride with one hand and is disqualified if he touches himself or the bull with his free arm during the 8-second ride.

Lasco Press Photo

Sound Like Fun? If you have seen it on TV, you know how wild these animals get and just how crazy these cowboys are. It’s even better in person. It’s a spectacle the whole family can enjoy.