Rescheduled, but ready

This photo shows an unidentified rider competing in the 2012 George Paul Memorial Bull Riding event at the Val Verde County Fairgrounds. Despite this year’s event being rescheduled to due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers say they event will still take place this year, but only when the time is right.

For the first time in decades, the annual George Paul Memorial Bull Riding will have to reschedule its dates, but the event’s producer has a message for fans.

“The George Paul isn’t going anywhere. It’s here to stay,” Bobby Paul, George Paul producer, said Thursday.

Wednesday, Paul and his wife Bonnie posted a statement on the event’s official website announcing that the 43rd George Paul event would be rescheduled from April 24 and 25 due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has spread worldwide.

Named in honor of Paul’s late brother, and former world champion bull rider George Paul, organizers of the event take pride in it being the longest, continuous stand-alone bull riding in the world. Even in Wednesday’s release, it’s mentioned that the George Paul has “survived tornadoes, Swine Flu, Equine flu, torrential rain, flooding, extreme heat and even hail and extremely cold weather and The George Paul will survive this pandemic as well.”

The two-day PRCA-sanctioned event draws thousands of fans to the Val Verde County Fairgrounds each year. Some of the top riders in the world compete to not only win the thousands of dollars in prize money, but to earn the prestigious buckle that is awarded to the champion.

Paul said that success led to the only other rescheduling of the George Paul in the event’s history. He said in the late 1970’s, early 80’s, the event got so big that people were staying in motels in surrounding communities like Eagle Pass, Uvalde and even Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, just to be a part of the George Paul festivities. He said it wasn’t unusual for families to plan vacations to be a part of the event and that some fans would take to celebrating the whole week leading up to the actual competition.

He explained that the large amount of people descending on Del Rio led to a fear that they would interfere with Mexico’s Cinco de Mayo celebration, so out of courtesy the date was changed.

“It just got too big. All the motels in Del Rio and Acuña were booked and people were staying out of town and driving in. We didn’t want to mess anything up with Acuña’s Cinco de Mayo celebration, so we changed the date. That’s the only time, before now, that it’s happened,” Paul said.

Despite this year’s rescheduling, Paul said all tickets already purchased would be honored on the new dates when they are announced. He also said that all sponsorship monies already paid would be applied to the rescheduled date.

While there is currently no timeline in regards to when large gatherings of people would be allowed again, Paul said he and his team would be ready to go as soon as they’re given the green light. However, he also said that if the event is pushed further into the year, then more work would need to be done to determine when the event could be held to ensure success for the George Paul and any other events taking place at that time.

“The date would be whenever it’s the best time for everybody. We don’t want it to interfere with any other big event,” Paul said. Paul said the public would be notified through the official website, georgepaulmemorialbullriding.com, the event’s official Facebook page, or by letter.

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