By Joshua Wood, Cowboy State Daily
The 2022 Saratoga Bullfest, which was set to celebrate its 26th year, has been officially canceled, according to organizers of the event.
Bo Alameda, chairman of the Saratoga Bullfest Committee, told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that the nationwide fuel increase was one of the major factors in the cancelation of the annual regional bullriding competition.
“The biggest thing would be, we were going to have to pay the contract help more because it would cost them a lot more to get here. The bull guys, that’s one of the biggest things,” said Alameda. “They’re dragging a trailer full of bulls … wherever they’re coming from and $6 a gallon diesel kind of adds up after a while.”
Saratoga Bullfest has been unique in that it doesn’t work with just one stock contractor, but several. In the past, bullriders have not been the only competitors to have an opportunity to win money in Saratoga. The stock contractors compete as well for the opportunity to win money based on the performance of their bulls.
“Those guys bring a team of bulls and they’re taking the same chance that the bullriders are. They’re not getting paid, they’re taking a chance at winning some money,” said Alameda. “If their bulls do well, then they’ll win some money.
According to Alameda, while the cost of fuel was one significant factor, another was low entries at similar events elsewhere.
Alameda could not specify whether declines in entries are being seen regionally or across the country, but he said the drops are occurring “just all around.” These included professional events as well.
“Numbers are down, that’s the best way to put it,” said Alameda.
Bullfest isn’t the only animal-centered event in Wyoming to be canceled due to nationwide influences. Earlier this year, both Park and Campbell counties announced the cancelation of their annual pig wrestling events. In both cases, the lack of available pigs was cited as the reason. Both events received their pigs for the event from Double D Livestock in Greybull.
While this year’s Saratoga Bullfest may be canceled, there are plans in place to overhaul the event for 2023. On its Facebook post, Saratoga Bullfest promised “a new format and some exciting changes” for next year.
According to Alameda, those changes are still in the works. Changes already made include raising more money for bigger payouts and getting away from the stock contractor competition portion of the event. Instead, Saratoga Bullfest may hire just one stock contractor to provide the bulls for the event.