Battle of the Bulls celebrates 10 years

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 9/27/23

BELLE — The Belle Ya Yas celebrated their 10th Battle of the Bulls event at Belle City Park over the weekend.

Ya Yas President Cindy Butler said that this event gets bigger every year. …

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Battle of the Bulls celebrates 10 years


BELLE — The Belle Ya Yas celebrated their 10th Battle of the Bulls event at Belle City Park over the weekend.

Ya Yas President Cindy Butler said that this event gets bigger every year. Battle of the Bulls has become the talk of many of the stock contractors (bull riders).

“They all talk about this being one of their favorite events of the year,” Butler said. “Number one is that we are all women, but we do have men who help. The production side is really funded and pushed by all women, and we all get along.”

Belle Community Betterment Association (BCBA), the Maries County Sheriff’s Department, the Belle Fair royalty and others came in to assist with the gate and concession stands.

Stock contractors who traveled long distance were encouraged to drive in on Friday and were given “bunkhouse” accommodations in four loaned campers at the Belle City Park Campground.

“They love the way the town treats them when they come,” Butler said. “We don’t have much of a hotel. We borrowed four campers for those that came the farthest away. Inside the ‘bunkhouse’ they had homemade salsa and chips.”

Those who came in on Friday were treated to fried fish by volunteer Grill Master Mike Green, who also made the concession food on Saturday night.

The Ya Ya’s insurance agent who’s spouse passed 13 years ago, wanted to see the event and drove in on Friday night to give the ladies a sponsor check and their insurance packet.

The stock contractors fees for the bull rides are sponsored by family or friends of those who are battling, have beat or have died from a disease. In recent years, former members of the Ya Yas who have passed for various reasons are also honored.

“We also do the honor and in-memory rides,” Butler said. “If they don’t cover and win a check, these boys are paying to take the risk.”

Ya Ya heart felt sponsored rides include: MaMa Ya Ya Leatha Hicks, Sharon Terrill, Maddi Compton, Cherri Marquart, and Karlee Jo Hallahan.

The riders know who they are riding for.

“We give them a handwritten letter from the family, which includes a photo of the person they are honoring. Every man that comes to ride gets that at check-in and we tell them ‘this is who paid for your fees and this is who you are riding for tonight.’ They talk about how the atmosphere is different and the energy is different than other places.”

Butler said it is different because all proceeds go to help families in the community with the costs of fighting against diseases.

“This is a different way, it’s not going in somebody’s pocket,” she said. “There isn’t a one of them who hasn’t had an impact in their personal lives from trauma or cancer.”

The 2023 highlight rider was Casey Coulter, a favorite, who know rides for PBR.

“Casey has been with us all 10 years,” Butler said. “Some of these boys have been with us all 10 years and work for PBR now. He has rode for my mom for years and says he will never miss an event. He says this is where he will come.”

A mini bull event was also added this year.

“We brought in four mini bull riders,” Butler said. “I don’t know where all they came from. They both tied. They were so excited to be part of Battle of the Bulls, you could have put them at PBR and they wouldn’t have been more excited.”

Many of the riders love to stay after the event to mingle with the crowd. “A lot of them stay after because they love how the community feels, they support local businesses, eat at local restaurants and bring revenue to the city itself,” Butler said. “It goes further than Belle because a lot of them will stay in Owensville.”

The rain did little to dampen attendance, and even though the arena’s seating was recently expanded, Butler said there were still a lot of people standing.

which is why the group expanded the seating in the arena.

“We increased seating, but the stands were still completely full and even with rain people stayed,” Butler said. “The arena is not completed, but once the other end is completed we will have full rodeo capability to hold more stock.”

There are many groups who made the remodel possible by donating time or materials. The announcer podium was a recent addition.

“We call it the announcer condominium,” Butler said. “You will not find someplace with a better announcement stand. My brother built it. We heard multiple times from contractors and riders that this is one of the top arenas in Missouri.”

The increased seating in the stands helped, but many were still left standing or sitting in personal chairs.

A new concession stand helped food service run more efficiently and the former Ya Yas shack has been converted to storage. Honse Welding and Jimmy Zumwalt with Mid-State Pipeline both gave the group assistance and loaned equipment to help make sure the facilities were ready leading up to the event.

“It is really cool when volunteers from different entities work so well together,” Butler said.

Arena renovations were completed with the assistance of Steve Horstman, Lloyd Hicks, Jimmy Zumwalt, Tim Long, Nathan Valley, Gary Jeoffroy, Curtis Weller, Frank Butler, Ethan Butler, and Curly Marquart.

More vendors than ever before set up in the livestock barn, from homemade tack to Scentsy, Butler said they had a little of everything. The Ya Yas sold their annual t-shirts at the event as well. Butler noted that in the 10 years they have hosted Battle of the Bulls, they have lost several of their own.

“On our t-shirts, we honored Karlee Jo with angel wings on back, the three crosses are three of the bull riders who lost their lives since we started,Caden Moss, Mason Lowe, and Michael Jeffers,” Butler said. “Karlee is the reason we exist. We started fundraising for her in 2008. She taught us what it was like to make a difference raising money. She became part of us. Those that were part of us and we lost, those that were mothers for us (hurt the most).”

Both stock contractors and attendees alike filled the arena at the park on Saturday night.

“Attendance was probably the same as last year,” Butler said. “It is hard to tell because we have added more seating, but they were all full. The key point there the rain didn’t keep everyone from showing up.”

Coulter rode for Butler’s nephew Dalton who passed away. Other highlight riders included top two in the National Federation of Professional Bullriders Association Perry Schrock and Joe Phillips.

The four main highlighted riders were Shea Russell, NFPB finals qualifier for greater than five years in a row; Jack Gilmore, PRCA; and Denton Fugate, NFR qualifier.

The Futurity Event had over 40 upcoming bull athletes compete. Category winners were:

• Yearling Futurity Champion: Tim Schreiber;

• Yearling Futurity Reserve Champion: Randy Holthusen;

• Two year old Futurity Champion: Tim Schreiber;

• Two year old Futurity Reserve Champion: Wolfe Cattle Company; and

• Mini Bucking Bull Champion was split between: Caiden Aguilar and Dawson Whitener.

Raffle ticket winners were Custom Pioneer Women Knife Block to Tracy Tyler; Pit Boss 4 in 1 Grill to Belinda Barch; gun to Tuffy Kottwitz; Giant Pelikan Cooler to Heather Green; and fifty-fifty raffle to Lauren Morgan.

Butler said they haven’t totaled their proceeds yet, but after they do they will announce it.

She also gave a shout out to community entities who helped with the event who may not have been mentioned above.

“Trash detail was provided by the Maries County Sheriff Department and Posse,” Butler began. “Shea Russell took the lead on the arena project for the Ya Yas. He has driven many many miles and spent countless hours ensuring that we were prepared for the 2023 Battle of the Bulls. Overall renovation cost has passed $60,000. We are excited to see what activity the arena renovations bring to the Belle area. We are hoping to see growth and bring Missouri High School Rodeo Association and MRCA to the area as well.

Butler asked that local equine enthusiast do not use the facility until the inside renovations are complete. This is the safest for both rider and horse.

The Ya Yas are a group of local ladies raising money to support their community.

“We are better than 20 women now,” Butler said.

Ya Ya ladies are Cindy Butler, Tess Ridenhour, Frankie Horstman, Cindy Dworek, Sharon Hicks, Julie Terry, Michelle Butler, Brettany Shanks, Bev Loughridge, Teresa Hicks, Ashley Harris, Sunshine Shanks, Jacy Duncan, Lainyn Shanks, Sara Parker, Tori Weller, Maddie Compton, Rose Keeney, Amber Goforth, Susan Terrill, Natasha Weller, Dawn Lange, Sharon Jeoffroy, Pam Karr, Junior Ya Yas (keeping the tradition alive), Miah Shanks, Lacy Woemmel, Kara Baretich, Reagan Thompson, Raelie Harris, Hadlee Poe, and Landry Heitman.

“Our sponsors continue to grow and we are totally blessed with the ability to continue to support those in our community that are fighting cancer with gas credits,” Butler said. “We do have qualifying factors that are considered for gas credit. If anyone wants to refer someone for consideration, email