Bullfighting not a clown act in rodeo arena



July 28, 2012 - 12:00 AM

Derek Search and Cody Lunceford might have clown makeup on their faces. They may have on wild and colorful attire.
But the two Missouri natives aren’t clowning around. They have a serious job in the rodeo arena. They are rodeo bullfighters.
Doing their job right keeps bull- riding contestants out of harms way once they are off the bulls.
“We’re there to protect the cowboys and to work for the stock contractor. If cowboys get hurt all the time by a contractor’s bulls, the contractor is not going to hire   you as a bullfighter,” Search said of the important part of his job.
Search has been a rodeo bullfighter for seven years. Lunceford is in his fourth year.
The two have worked the Allen County Fair Rodeo the past two summers. Rodeo fans watched them in action here Friday night and Lunceford and Search will put their lives on the line again tonight.
Final performance of the fair rodeo starts at 8 o’clock tonight. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children,  ages 6-10.
“A good bullfighter is someone who cares about the contestants and will put their life on the line,” Lunceford said. “You have to respect the guys who ride the bulls and they have to trust you to know that you’re going to protect them in the arena.”
Both men work with C.R. Mc-Kellips Rodeo Company most of the rodeo season. Search said he works for a couple other contractors at times. McKellips Rodeo Company has produced the local county fair rodeo the past two years.
Search also works the Kansas State college rodeo each year.
“I was a rodeo contestant and rode steers when I was 13 and 14 but really didn’t want to get on the big bulls,” Search said.
“I still wanted to be involved in the sport so I jumped in to bullfighting.”
For Lunceford bull riding was his event in rodeos.
“But I got tired of being thrown off them so I asked Chuck (Mc-Kellips) if I could stand in the arena during the bull riding. That’s how I got started bullfighting,” Lunceford said. 
“I know the bulls and sometimes I wonder why I do it but you get a hand on one of the bulls and go around with them in the arena. It’s a rush.”
Lunceford and Search are both 21. They talked of the adrenaline rush of being in the arena during the bull riding event.
“But you also have to study the bulls and know their tendencies as they come out of the chute. What they do, which way they turn so you are in the right spot when the cowboy comes off the bull,” Search said.
Lunceford and Search also may be seen helping with the nightly mutton busting competition with the youngsters.
They help move livestock and feed the animals.
“We put the flanking straps on the horses to help out. We do whatever we can to help Chuck and the his crew before, during and after the rodeo,” Lunceford said.
“We try to help out as much as we can to make things go smoothly during the rodeo,” Search said.
That might even involve working with Tuffy Gessling, the rodeo  funny man, in his antics during performances.
They also help with the children’s game.
But when the bulls enter the chutes, it’s no clown act for Lunce-ford and Search.

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