Flying U Rodeo offers something different |

Flying U Rodeo offers something different

A cowboy dressed as Zorro holds onto a bucking bronco during the Flying U Rodeo at the Nevada County Fair Wednesday.
John Hart/ | The Union

With high-flying motorcycle acts and cowboys in costume, one thing is for sure, the Flying U Rodeo is not your grandfather’s rodeo.

“It’s totally different,” said rodeo entertainer Matt Merritt, who had the fans in the nearly packed Nevada County Fairgrounds Arena laughing and dancing throughout the show. “It’s a form of sport and half entertainment, and it adds a better element, this is a lot cooler. We don’t want them up there playing on Facebook, we want them watching what we’re doing, and tonight they did.”

Fairgoers filled the arena Wednesday night for an hour and a half of bull riding, mutton bustin’, freestyle motorcycle riding and a lot more.

“It’s a completely different show then you’ve ever seen,” said Flying U Rodeo owner Cotton Rosser, who turned 86 years old Tuesday and has been in the rodeo business for most his life. “We’re kind of losing the rodeo fans, but I’m trying to keep the west alive by bringing something different. People say ‘if you’ve seen one rodeo you’ve seen em all,’ and we haven’t changed the events much, but we changed how we present it. We put entertainment acts in between the rodeo acts.”

The night got kicked off in patriotic fashion as Kent Lane parachuted into the arena with an enormous American Flag hitched to him.

After Folsom Rodeo Queen and Grass Valley native Lauren Gilbert graced the crowd, it was mutton bustin’ time. Landon Nettles took the “wool warrior” title with a ride that far surpassed any other.

“I just held on,” he said.

Landon’s win segued nicely into what came next as his father, Preston Nettles, asked Ashley Anspach to marry him. She said yes.

After the love portion of the show was over, it was bull riding time.

While the scores were a bit suspect, the wildest 8 seconds in sports didn’t disappoint.

Jose Garcia showed he was cowboy tough after completing his ride. After being bucked he caught the bulls hind hoofs in the torso. He stayed down for a bit, but walked off on his own.

“That man just got stomped on by a 2,000 pound animal and walked himself out of the ring,” Merritt said to the crowd, garnering applause for Garcia.

Fairgoer Matt Kuhn, who brought his family to the rodeo said he was impressed by the bull riding and the rodeo overall.

“We liked it a lot,” Kuhn said. “It was a lot of fun.”

After the bull riding, Mustang Makeover champion Bobby Kerr, showed off his talents on his horse, “Poncho.” Kerr and his steed did tricks, rode around the arena in a car, fired off shots from a six-shooter and a shotgun, and even offered a little rodeo poetry.

“Cotton Rosser and the Flying U Rodeo is the king of rodeo entertainment,” Kerr said. “I’m just so proud to be a part of this production.”

The wild horse riding was next with cowboys dressed as Elvis, M.C. Hammer, Zorro and a sumo wrestler attempting to hold onto a bucking bronco as long as they could. The crowd decided M.C. Hammer was the night’s top rider.

The evening’s finale was a crowd pleaser as free-style motorcyclists Luke Nolan and Nick Dunne wowed the arena with a multitude of ariel tricks while flying over exploding fireworks.

The Flying U Rodeo, based out of Marysville, will put their special brand of rodeo on again at 7 p.m. tonight at the Nevada County Fairgrounds Arena.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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