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When ornery is a good thing: Chisholm welcomes the bulls

A centerpiece of the five-day St. Louis County Fair, its bull-riding event drew a big crowd Thursday night.

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Coy Thorson, of Fergus Falls, Minnesota, takes to the air while riding a bull named Captain Jack during the St. Louis County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Chisholm. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

CHISHOLM — A dusty white bull with worn-down horns and a bad attitude had just tossed its rider and wanted more, crashing the gate in the place where a rodeo clown had just evacuated.

"He wants total destruction," said Lexi Feldewerd, 21, of New Munich, Minnesota.

The crowd at the St. Louis County Fair was on board for it.

"The people showed up," the announcer roared in appreciation of the crowd, which tipped the scales at more than 1,000 on Thursday night for the fair's marquee event.

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A bull rider gets attention from a bull after being bucked off during the St. Louis County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Chisholm. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Under a threat of rain, fairgoers instead enjoyed a breezy evening with competitors in the National Federation of Professional Bullriders vying for a $6,000 purse.

The circuit's leader, Pedro Fonseca, of Elk River, Minnesota, left the audience wowed and gasping while covering an 8-second ride on the back of a bull that seemed to want to capsize Fonseca as if the bull were a rogue wave at sea.

It was a night when many riders covered their bulls. Some with dazzling rides like Fonseca's, others with bulls that didn't deliver more than a dog chasing its tail.

"These guys are out there putting up 85s," said Ryne Laine, 25, of Britt, Minnesota, referring to the 100 scale the riders are judged upon. "They're very good."

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Colton Arvila, of Angora, Minnesota, prays at the start of the bull riding event during the St. Louis County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Chisholm. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Laine watched the bulls with a pair of buddies, leaving work at CN Railway to come see the show. It's something he tries to do every year.

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"It's fun to watch the determination these guys have to want to do this," Laine said.

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Ryan Sayre, of Lansing, Michigan, rides Blindspot during the St. Louis County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Chisholm. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

One of the night's youngest riders was a local boy, 16-year-old Gunnar Adkins, of Cherry, Minnesota. He pulled two of the night's most ornery bulls. They both ejected him in short order.

Adkins competed in July at the National High School Rodeo Finals in Lincoln, Nebraska.

"I started here mutton busting when I was 4 years old," Adkins said of the sheep-wrangling rodeo discipline that is the starter kit for those interested in rodeo competition. "I started riding bulls when I was 12."

Asked why, Adkins gave a simple answer: "The adrenaline."

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Framed by cattle fences Ryan Sayre, of Lansing, Michigan, prepares a bull named Blindspot for riding during the St. Louis County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Chisholm. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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Bull rider Dalton Wells, of Fergus Falls, Minnesota, tries to roll out of the way of a bull named Louie during the St. Louis County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Chisholm. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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Wyatt Calvert, of Camdenton, Missouri, takes a quiet moment before bull riding during the St. Louis County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Chisholm. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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A bull named Three's a Crowd prepares to charge after bucking off rider Jed Weirenga of Lowell, Michigan, during the St. Louis County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Chisholm. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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Ryan Sayre, of Lansing, Michigan, tries to avoid the horns of a bull named Pick-a-Dill during the St. Louis County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Chisholm. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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A bull waits in the chutes during the St. Louis County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Chisholm. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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Bull rider Wyatt Calvert, of Camdenton, Missouri, watches the action while waiting to ride during the St. Louis County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Chisholm. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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A bull rider gets bucked off during the St. Louis County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Chisholm. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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Sam Bell, of Willmar, Minnesota, carries an American flag while riding his horse, Richard, during the playing of the national anthem at the St. Louis County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Chisholm. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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Bull riders look out over the arena at dusk during the St. Louis County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Chisholm. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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After a night of riding bulls, cowboys relax near their vehicles and campers during the St. Louis County Fair on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Chisholm. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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