Staff photos by Dean H. Borgwardt
Camp Verde High’s Head Wrestling Coach, Bob Weir, finds the loudest most rambunctious spectators and tosses them goodies as rodeo clown and barrel man at Bull Bash 2003 at Cliff Castle Casino’s Stargazer Pavilion on Oct. 24 and 25. The area filled to near capacity with a crowd hungry for bone-shattering spills and bull riding thrills, ready to watch professional and novice bull riders compete. All proceeds from the annual Bull Bash go to benefit Camp Verde schools’ wrestling and scholarships fund. The 5th Annual Bull Bash 2003 attracted hundreds as bull riders competed in the event. Bull riders came from Texas, California, Utah and even Australia. Casper Baca of Grants NM supplied the bulls. Bob and Daria Weir of Camp Verde produced the rodeo. Bull Bash featured professional and novice bull riding and a kids' rodeo, on Saturday, for ages 2 through 13 and included steer, calf and sheep riding and stick horse races.
While entertaining the spectators and even the contestants as a rodeo clown, Weir is raising funds to benefit wrestling in Camp Verde.
Weir has been involved in rodeo for 22 years and said he started Bull Bash five years ago to benefit the wrestling program and scholarships for students at Camp Verde schools.
At the Bull Bash 2003 in Camp Verde, "the program raised more than $10,000 for the wrestling program and scholarships," Weir said.
He added that proceeds from the annual Bull Bash have supplied students with a new wrestling room and weight room.
"The proceeds are used to pay for equipment and traveling to tournaments like the national tournament in Reno." He said. "We are just finishing our new wrestling room and we give two scholarships each year to our wrestling students."
He added that the school's new wrestling room is state-of-the-art and its construction was financed by Bull Bash funds.
"It's probably one of the best in the state," he said.
Weir must be doing something right. He has been polishing his clown act and the rodeo crowds get bigger each year. The event moved from the Verde Valley Fairgrounds to Cliff Castle this year to accommodate more spectators.
Even the rough-and-tumble bull riders can't help but grin at Weir's antics, even if they are bucked off and are out of the competition — their entry fees gone in less than 8 seconds.
"For the first three years of the Bull Bash, we did it at the Verde Valley Fairgrounds," he said. "Then we presented the idea to the general manager at Cliff Castle and he loved it. This is the second Bull Bash at the casino."
He said the crowds are getting bigger, the bulls are fiercer and the competition gets tougher each year.
But Weir doesn’t watch from behind the heavy steel fences like most of us. He gets in the arena with 1,200-pound bulls and in front of hundreds of excited fans.
Weir delivers. He welcomes spectators into the pavilion with tasteful wise-cracking and between go-rounds where bull riders compete, Weir does stunts in an oversize inner tube, pops wheelies in his special rodeo car, dances for the crowd, blows up a colleague's hat and climaxes the event with spectacular fireworks and a dance contest for the kids.
Plus, he and his bullfighters throw goodies to the loudest sections in the audience.
This bull riding contest attracted professional and novice bull riders from Texas, California, Utah, Australia and of course a few local Arizona cowboys.
Rodeo is in Weir’s blood.
He said his granddad was a rodeo producer and he gets his kids in on the act, helping out behind the scenes and between shows.
"We do the Bull Bash and my wrestling students clean up the place after the event," he said.
Bull Bash Producer and Secretary Daria Weir has been a counselor at Mingus Union High School for five years.
"We met rodeoing when we were in college," she said. "I run barrels and did roping, now we do the Bull Bash."
The stock was supplied by Casper Baca of Grants, N.M., and is Professional Bull Rider grade A prime beef on the hoof. These are athletes of a different sort, angry and weighing up to 1,900 pounds or so.
When the dust settles and the excitement ebbs, Weir puts on a show that is akin to rodeo acts seen in Texas, where rodeo isn't just fun, it's a tradition.
He said the scholarship fund was started after the death of a former Camp Verde wrestling student.
"The scholarships go to one of our wrestlers in good standing," he said. "It really helps the kids get started in college and every bit of the [Bull Bash] proceeds goes to the scholarships and the wrestling programs."
He said that this year, the earnings were the highest so far and will also benefit the Camp Verde Yavapai-Apache Nation New Breed Wrestling Club for ages five to 19.
Weir added that the bull-riding event has helped continue this scholarship fund for several years and many Camp Verde High graduates have been able to attend college with the assistance of this money. Cliff Castle Casino donated the gate receipts to the wrestling program.
"I’ve been working on my act and it’s getting better all the time," Weir said. "And the bull riding gets better every year, too."