Whitney Point, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Crowds cheered and tipped their cowboy hats Friday evening as 18 men saddled up for a wild ride at the Broome County Fair.
Bull riding has been an annual tradition at the fairgrounds, and the fearless cowboys returned to the ring once again Friday to thrill fairgoers this year.
Many riders have been competing for more than 10 years all across the country.
"I haven't done it yet, but I will continue to compete at these competitions, hopefully make enough money to keep it up, and eventually qualify, make it a reality," said bull rider Carlos Garcia.
Garcia has been taking part in the extreme sport since he was 12 years old. And 12 years later, he has the scars and bruises to show for it.
"I guess you could say we're all identical. We're adrenaline junkies, or stupid, one of the two. Injuries are part of the game, it happens to everybody. I broke my arm in 2011 and it put me out for 11 months," Garcia said.
His accident resulted in two plates and 20 screws in his arm, along with months of rehab.
But fear doesn't stop the cowboys from grabbing their chaps and spurs and getting back on the bucking beasts.
The riders must stay on the bull for eight grueling seconds to qualify. Then four judges score both the individual and the bull on a scale of 100 points. Riders rack up as many points as they can, with the top five scorers earning a second round on a different bull.
In addition to the menacing dangers of being in the saddle, bullfighters are just as important to the sport as the riders.
"We consider them our cowboy angels, they're lifesavers, we're just out the for eight seconds once a night, twice a night, and they're out there for every single bull," Garcia said. "They put themselves in line for a target for a bull instead of the cowboys. They have a job that not too many people give enough appreciation to, and if it wasn't for them we wouldn't be able to do it."
The event is part of the Southern Extreme Bullriders Association.
While some of the riders at the fair were originally from the Greater Binghamton area, many traveled thousands of miles to compete in Whitney Point; and they'll continue on to several more competitions.
Like Garcia, many of the cowboys' said their ultimate hope is to qualify for larger rodeos. For these men, the thrill of roping for a world title may be the adrenaline rush compared to holding onto the back of a bull for a heartbeat shy of 10 seconds.