Wild Thing gets canceled after 27 years


Citing the uncertainty and the closure of Red Rock Park due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wild Thing promoter Larry Peterson has pulled the plug on this year’s event.

“We didn’t have any choice because nobody can’t have anything going on at Red Rock Park,” Peterson said. “They have that whole park completely shut down.”

As the area’s most popular event, Peterson said a lot of Wild Thing fans are going to truly miss this year’s event.

“It’s been shared over 700 times on Facebook,” Peterson said on Tuesday. “It has that little sad (emoji) almost 3,000 times. Everybody was looking forward to it.

Navajo Times File Photo | Donovan Quintero
Bull rider Troy Tuni hangs on and tries to make it to the final buzzer on Saturday night at the 26th Annual Wild Thing Championship Bull Riding at Red Rock Park in Church Rock, N.M., last year. Tuni was not able to hang on for the full eight seconds and got a no-score.

“It’s just terrible after 27 years this happened,” he added. “To be completely shut down like that is devastating. It’s more than just us. We’re the biggest fundraiser for the Manuelito Navajo Children’s Home and that’s terrible for them.”

Peterson said the trickle down effect is unreal, as it has made a big impact with local businesses and the city of Gallup.

“It’s hurting a lot of people,” he said. “It just breaks my heart because a lot of these companies and businesses that have sponsored us have been fantastic over the years but a lot of them are hurting right now.”

Peterson said he’s relied on a lot of sponsors to pull off an event that size as the iconic event also featured a spectacular pyrotechnic show, music, Cowboy Poker, wooly riding and a lot of giveaways.

“We’ve all worked so hard to make it the No. 1 open bull riding in the southwest,” he said. “Our Wild Thing fans have so much fun with it and not being able to have it just hurts, it’s just terrible.”

Peterson said it’s also affecting the people who work the event.

“It’s hurting the people that bring in the bulls, the announcer and bull fighters,” he said.

Peterson said he looked at postponing his event but it seemed impossible.

“We looked at that but the city has locked down the park on everything,” he said. “I don’t think we could have done anything a month or two later anyways.”

What it came down to, Peterson says, was manpower, or lack thereof.

“The church group that comes in that does the concession and parking for the children’s home couldn’t have come at a later date because schools would have started up,” he said. “Plus, around here the weather can change drastically in an outdoor arena in September.”

Peterson said he invested a lot of time and money earlier in the year to get ready for his event.

“There is not 60 of me like they have for Lion’s Club,” he said. “I’ve worked on this thing for months and months. There are things that we have to do early and pay for. I did that all the way up to April and that is when I shut things down, waiting as long as I could. I realized that we just couldn’t do it.”

With this year’s event canceled, Peterson said the only thing he can do is plan for next year.

“We’re planning on it but who knows?” he said. “There is so many bad stuff going on. We’re going to try and come back and have a great big show like we’ve had all these years. That’s our goal and hopefully we’ll be back.”

Peterson said they’ve asked their fans to donate to the Manuelito Navajo Children’s Home since the event was canceled.

“It was their biggest fundraising event,” he said.

About The Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at qjodie@navajotimes.com


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