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Indoor bull riding comes to Mitchell

The Corn Palace, pictured here, will host its first-ever bull-riding competition Friday and Saturday. (Photo illustration by Chris Huber/Republic)2 / 2

For the first time ever, bull riding is coming to the Corn Palace in Mitchell.

The indoor Wilbur Ellis Corn Palace Challenge will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The event is a Championship Bull Riding (CBR) Horizon Series contest and will attract some of the top talent from across the country, plus some of the area's best local talent, as they compete for $14,000 in total prize money.

Each night will feature 47 rides.

"It's going to be a great couple of nights," said organizer Sheldon Tobin, of Plankinton. "We will have some of the best riders from around the country at this event."

Tobin was brought in to oversee the Corn Palace transformation and organize the event because of his rodeo experience.

Tickets prices are $20 and $30 for the padded seats.

"There are still plenty of tickets left, and some very great seats," Schilling said. "I don't see any way we are going to have a sellout, but we should have very good attendance."

Tables will be set up on the stage and on the floor, with each table seating eight people. The tables on the stage sold for $500 and are sold out for both nights. Tables on the floor are $400 and some are still available for Friday's performance.

Capacity for the event will be 2,125 each night.

Pro Rodeo Hall of Famer and CBR president Tuff Hedeman will emcee the event. Hedeman, a three-time bull riding world champion, is known to movie fans because of the film "8 Seconds." His friendship with the late Lane Frost was chronicled in the movie, and Hedeman was played by Stephen Baldwin.

Brad Vogele, a contractor from Kansas, will provide the bulls. Vogele was the 2011 CBR contractor of the year.

The task of transforming the Corn Palace's basketball floor into a bull-riding arena falls on several contractors who have been hired under the direction of Tobin.

Dirt will be brought into the Corn Palace to create a 72-by-72-foot square.

"The bulls only utilize the first 30 feet of the area, and most of the bucking is done after the first 15 feet, so the Corn Palace will be plenty big enough," Tobin said. "Putting the whole thing together is kind of a challenge to see how we are going to get the dirt in the there and get it out without messing up the floor." A covering system will be put down to protect the floor. "We will put down what we put down for the circus -- a covering of plastic, then plywood and more plastic, followed by wood shavings and then the dirt-sand mixture for the arena," Schilling said. Approximately 220 cubic yards of dirt will be brought into the Corn Palace.

Schilling said safety will not be a cause for concern. Six-foot-tall fences will be used to enclose the riding area.

"The people working on this event have been in bull riding for a long time, and they know how high the fences need to be and what type of materials they need to be made of," Schilling said. "I'm confident in their ability to make this a safe and fun event."

Set up for the event will begin today.

Staff will hopefully be able to take down and clean throughout the day Sunday, according to Schilling. The next major scheduled event in the Palace is Oct. 5.