By: Keith Ryan Cartwright May 27, 2014@ 12:45:00 PM
FORT WORTH, Texas — Ty Pozzobon never really imagined himself hosting a PBR event with his own name attached to it, and he certainly never imagined it being an annual event.
In fact, when he held the Ty Pozzobon Invitational last year in his hometown of Merritt, Canada, he thought it might attract 1,000 people in the sleepy little town of 12,000.
Instead, it drew three times what they had expected (or a quarter of the population).
“It was unreal,” Pozzobon said. “It was nuts. There are not very many PBR’s in British Columbia, where I’m from, and, like I said, the town has been supportive.”
Tanner Byrne rode in Merritt last year and will be back there again this Saturday.
“It was a phenomenal event,” he added. “There were a lot of good bull rides and high scores and I’m sure it’s just going to be better this year.”
The prize money has increased from $10,000 last year to $15,000 this year.
Pozzobon had been to a few events held by fellow Canadian Aaron Roy and saw how successful and supportive everyone was and thought if they could attract enough sponsorship, perhaps, it could work in Merritt as well.
Pozzobon’s parents – Leanne and Luke – along with his aunt and several close family friends formed a committee and went to work.
They quickly enlisted the help of Bo Davis, who is the father of Pozzobon’s girlfriend Jayd and made his first-ever trop to Canada last year. The elder Davis is known for producing several Touring Pro Division events each year, including the annual Brent Thurman Memorial and a series of events in San Antonio, Texas.
“He’s a big part of it and told us how to go about it,” Pozzobon said. “He produces so many events and he comes up and helps out. He’s a really big part of it.”
Pozzobon said the community has been supportive of his career ever since he started competing at bull riding events sanctioned by the National Little Britches Rodeo Association back when he was first starting out.
Now, they regularly watch the Built Ford Tough Series regular on television.
Ty Pozzobon puts up 85.50 points on Emergency in Round 1 of the 2013 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas.
“It’s big for them because they see us riding on TV and stuff,” said Pozzobon in regards to Byrne, Douglas Duncan, Zane Lambert and last year’s winner Chase Outlaw.
Outlaw, who double entered, won the 2013 event with a pair of 92-point rides on his first entry. He rode Proper Ripped in Round 1 and Bottoms Up in the second round.
The 90-point rides are a good sign that the bulls – many of which are provided by Kelly Armstrong – are PBR quality.
“It’s pretty crazy in Merritt because they don’t really have anything,” Byrne said. “They have a Canadian pro rodeo, but it’s nothing like the PBR when it comes to town. Last year was really an eye-opener for everybody to see the fireworks, the bulls, the guys riding good, the 90-point rides. It was a PBR event full on.”
According to Pozzobon, the area has been lacking entertainment ever since the Merritt Mountain Music Festival was terminated. The once famous music gathering drew the likes of country superstar Garth Brooks and other talented musicians.
Once that disappeared, Pozzobon said, “We didn’t have anything at all, so now (bull riding is) kind of the big thing for Merritt really.”
He added, “I think there will be a lot more people this year.”
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
© 2014 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.