Cabarrus

It's bull-riding season at Stegall's Arena

If you want to grab a bull by the horns, Stegall's Arena is the place to do it.

For the past 19 years, the Concord venue has drawn thousands with its amateur and open division bull riding as well as steer, calf and sheep events for adults, teens and children. Activities run 7-9 p.m. each Sunday through November, and special events are often added on Saturday nights.

Concord native Eric Furr has brought his family to Stegall's since the late 1990s. A former bull rider himself, he is helping his son, Cody, 19, learn the sport. His wife, Kelly, and their daughter, Jamy, 13, also attend weekly.

On April 24, Cody took on a 1,400-pound bull named Black Jack and hung on for a couple seconds, but not for the required eight. That night, 40 other riders also competed.

This is Cody's first year competing in the open division.

He competed in the amateur division for two years prior. Like most bull riders, when Cody tried it for the first time, he fell - and then he was hooked.

"I just remember coming out (of the chute), all of the power, I got shot off the back of it and my adrenaline was pumping so bad," said Cody about his first attempt.

"It's just something I always wanted to do."

Cody practices on real bulls and on a bucking barrel built by his dad.

Hard work can pay off but, ultimately, the outcome of each ride comes down to the bull, said Cody.

"I just have to remember what I need to do to get the job done," he said before his ride on April 24.

"And that's to do whatever you can to hang on for eight seconds."

Seasoned riders say it requires balance most, and strength doesn't hurt either. Members of Cody's growing fan base say they appreciate the local rider because "he has a lot of try in him" and because "he's the nicest young man you'll meet."

Furr has broken an ankle. He has also seen friends and fellow riders get injured, but that's just part of the "toughest sport on Earth."

"It makes you think, 'When is that going to happen to me,' but if you think about getting hurt, you're going to get hurt," said Cody.

"It's just an adrenaline rush. It's fun."

The bulls weigh anywhere from 1,000-2,000 pounds and, more often than not, the bulls are victorious. J.B. Mauney, a professional bull rider, started out at Stegall's and often brings his own bulls to the arena for others to ride.

"Stegall's is as legitimate as it gets for bull riding in the Concord area," said Eric.

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