An injury — that all-but-inevitable bane of the professional bull rider — cost Jason Mattox his chance to compete in Baker City years ago.
But now that he has a chance to put on the Baker City Bronc and Bull Riding events, his enthusiasm seems to overwhelm any lingering disappointment.
“I’m excited to be able to continue this event in your community,” said Mattox, who lives in Roseburg and owns the Coastal Farm & Ranch Challenge of Champions Tour, which has added the Baker City rodeo events to its roster.
The group of volunteers, led by Ken McPheron, who have overseen the events for the past 25 years under the nonprofit Baker City Bronc & Bull Riding Inc., decided last year to look for a new organizer.
Mattox, a former bull rider, said that when he heard there was a possibility the iconic event, which coincides with Baker City’s Miners Jubilee festival the third weekend of July, wouldn’t happen, he got in touch with the local board of directors to offer to help in any way.
The Baker City Bronc and Bull Riding events are renowned among rodeo contestants and fans, Mattox said.
“In the Northwest everyone knows Baker City,” he said. “It’s the biggest standalone bull and bronc riding event in the Northwest.”
Mattox said his initial conversation with Baker City Bull & Bronc Inc. board members led to him adding the events to the Challenge of Champions Tour, a series of 18 rodeos in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California and Nevada.
Mattox said the local organizers have been “absolutely wonderful to work with” in planning the transition.
“This is their baby,” he said. “They have been so helpful with whatever I need. They’ve been doing it for 25 years and we’d like to keep doing it for 25 more.”
Mattox said his goal is to put on as good a show as spectators are accustomed to.
“Our goal is to keep it the exact same as it is, the same feel,” he said — including VIP and general admission ticket prices.
The same except for the addition of TV cameras, anyway.
Mattox said both the bull and bronc riding competitions will be televised in 2020 on the cable and satellite network, The Cowboy Channel. That’s a sister station to RFD-TV. The Cowboy Channel is available in more than 25 million homes, on providers including Spectrum, Dish Network and DirecTV.
Because the network doesn’t yet have the capability to broadcast the events live, the Baker City bronc and bull riding competitions will air about two weeks after they happen, Mattox said.
He said that although he could televise every event on the Challenge of Champions Tour, he picks five or six annually based on their popularity and status.
Mattox said adding the Baker City events to that list “was an absolute necessity.”
“The way your town just flocks to it is amazing,” he said. “I want the rest of the country to see what your community has created.”
In a recent announcement that management of the Baker City Bronc and Bull Riding events were transferring to the Challenge of Champions, Shane Pierce of Baker City, a member of the local board of directors as well as McPheron’s son, said the board was committed to ensuring that the rodeos continued.
“We’re super excited,” Pierce said of the transition.
The board of directors includes McPheron, Ken Helgerson, Rich Lien, Greg Hammond and Nick Lien.
More information about the Challenge of Champions Tour is available at cctbullriding.com