Bull riding coming to Chocowinity

Published 12:59 am Thursday, November 3, 2011

The sport of bull riding is returning to Chocowinity this weekend through the efforts of Darry Cross (left) and Travis Finley, whose venture Cross F Productions will present a show at Southside Arena on Saturday evening. (WDN Photo/Kevin Scott Cutler)

CHOCOWINITY — All the thrills and spills of bull riding will be showcased this weekend during a Saturday-evening extravaganza hosted by Cross F Productions at Chocowinity’s Southside Arena.

Not only will the event provide entertainment for the audience, it will also collect donations for the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program, according to organizers Travis Finley and Darry Cross. Cross is a Marine stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.

Admission to the event is $6 a person, with a dollar from each admission price going to Toys for Tots; anyone attending may bring along a new, unwrapped toy and his or her admission fee is reduced by a dollar. “Hopefully, some people will look at this from their heart,” said Finley. “We are also serving as a drop-off location for anyone who wants to bring extra toys.”

Best of all, children 12 years old or under will be admitted free, making this an affordable night out for families, Finley said.

While Finley and Cross are experienced bull riders, neither will compete in Saturday’s event. They will be too busy making sure things run smoothly behind the scenes in what they hope will be the first of several such shows, providing the project receives support from local businesses through sponsorship opportunities and area residents who turn out for the show.

The venue for Saturday’s show was formerly a bull-riding ring owned and operated by the late Jerome Barr, who hosted shows until 2008, according to Finley, whose credentials include competing in the 2009 International Professional Rodeo Association’s finals in Oklahoma City. Finley and Cross worked out a deal with Barr’s widow, Carol, in an effort to bring bull-riding entertainment back to Chocowinity. With a seating capacity of a little more than 500, the men hope residents from across eastern North Carolina will join them for Saturday’s show. Cross has recruited several fellow Marines to take part in the competition, and local riders are welcome, too.

Along with the main event, this weekend’s show includes an appearance by Finley’s father, Roscoe Finley, a professional entertainer who was twice named the New Mexico Rodeo Association’s Funnyman of the Year. Also on tap will be an opening prayer, singing of the national anthem, children’s activities and a concessions stand featuring hot dogs, chips, candy bars and soft drinks.

Finley and Cross stressed this is an event designed for families.

“I hope that they will look at this event as something for the kids and something to basically help keep the kids out of trouble,” Finley said.

The young men said the event isn’t a way for them to make a lot of money; instead, they’re putting anything they may bring in back into the business in an effort to host future shows.

“It’s not a money-making scheme. … It’s what we both like to do and we know there is an interest in this,” Cross said.

Businesses, hoping to see the venture get off the ground, are stepping up to the plate to provide financial assistance in exchange for public recognition during the show. Early sponsors include A.G. Lassiter Equipment Company of Chocowinity, Maurio’s Boots of Greenville, Chocowinity Veterinary Hospital, Mitch “The Meat Man” Ledford of Wilmington, Down East Rent-A-John of Jacksonville and Cordray Painting of Dublin, Ga. Others interested in becoming sponsors are urged to contact Finley at 910-378-5925 or Cross at 606-922-9139.

Southside Arena is located on Dixon Road, just off Gray Road in Chocowinity. Doors for Saturday’s show open at 6 p.m., and the entertainment starts at 7 p.m.

For more information about Cross F Productions, check out Southside Arena Bullriding Series’ page on Facebook.

“We’ve been getting between 20 and 30 new friends every day,” Finley said.