Amazing Story Behind Saturday's Rocking Professional Bull Riding At Franklin County Fair

Austin Martin reaches that 8 second mark in his first ride and was the 2013 Kathy Prilwetz Memorial Bull Riding Champion.

By Kyle Quick (Editorial)

Union, Mo. – It was an amazing Saturday night at the Franklin County Fair and I'm not referring to Randy Houser. I am talking about the 1st Annual Kathy Prilwetz Memorial Professional Bull Ridding entertainment, in which the story behind the event might cause one to shed a tear.

First I have to say, "Holy Cow" what a show. Unlike a rodeo where bull riding is the last event, Saturday, bull riding was the only event. Fans did not see just a handful of bull riders they watched 20 cowboys each ride two of the finest breed of bulls.

The story behind Saturday's class act of an event is like a story out of a movie. Grab a tissue.

Ben Prilwetz, St. Clair native and now Union resident with his wife Amanda, was the producer for Saturday night's event.  This means that everything from the entertainment, to the cowboys and bulls; everything you saw was produced by Prilwetz.

It may be hard to believe, but this was the first time Ben Prilwetz ever produced a bull riding event. No different than how good a movie is all depends upon the producer, everything was on Ben’s shoulders.

Afterwards and then again on Sunday we kept hearing the same question over and over, "Did you see last night's bull riding".  Mark your calendars for next year and the year after that because the Franklin County Fair Board signed a three year contract with Prilwetz.

Once finding out that Prilwetz had never produced a bull riding event I had to speak with him and last night I had the privilege of hearing his story and why the bull riding was call named the Kathy Prilwetz Memorial Professional Bull Riding.

Ever since Prilwetz was 4-years-old he dreamed of being a bull fighter someday.  After turning 12 he had waited long enough and began calling company after company, attempting to talk them into giving him a shot at bull fighting.

Of course as Prilwetz said, "I can understand them not wanting to hire a 12-year-old to fight bulls.

After seven years of bugging rodeo and bull riding producers/companies, his persistence paid off.  In July of 2004 at the age 19 and ironically the first time a youth bull riding event was held at the Franklin County Fair, Ben was given the chance to fight bulls, something he dreamed about since he was 4-years-old.

The only reason he got that opportunity was because the company putting on the show hoped by giving him a chance he would stop bugging them.  Then afterwards they asked Ben how long he had been fighting bulls, he replied, "About two and half hours."

Since, Prilwetz was named the Missouri Rodeo Cowboys Bull Fighter of the Year for three consecutive years in 2007, 2008, and 2009.

Throughout Ben's life there has been one person who has consistently encouraged him to keep trying.  That person was his mother, Kathy Prilwetz.

Towards the end of last year, members of the Franklin County Fair Board were looking for someone to produce a bull riding event.  The one name continually mentioned was, Ben Prilwetz. 

Pictured on left is Ben Prilwetz right after Austin Martin and longtime friend held on, reaching that 8 second mark to go on and win this year's bull riding event.

Ben's very first bull riding production ended with him shaking the hand of Austin Martin, who he grew up with.

Ben said, "I was hoping he would win since we are such good friends, but shaking his hand and handing him the winning check gave me more pride than anything."

Overcome with emanation, as Ben walked out of the ring tears began to flow. 

Fair board members had gone to Ben and he recommended several good producers he knew but then began thinking why not produce one himself.

His mom Kathy had been diagnosed with cancer several years ago.

While Ben was contemplating whether to submit a bid to produce the event, like she had all his life, Kathy once again encouraged him to do it.

Ben said, "Last year the day before Thanksgiving I went over to the house to see her.  It had only been a few days since I last visited but her health had dropped dramatically."

The very next day on Thanksgiving after spending part of the day with his wife's family, Ben was driving to see his mother when Kathy with the fair board said they would like to sign a three year contract.  Ben immediately said yes. 

Later that night Ben sat next to his mom and best friend, holding her hand as she passed away.

As a way of honoring his mom is why Saturday night was the 1st Annual Kathy Prilwetz Memorial Professional Bull Ridding and Ben said as long as they continue asking me to produce the event the name will be the same. 

Ben continues fighting bulls and will be at the Owensville Pro Bull Riding fighting Bulls instead of producing the show.

After talking having the privilege of speaking with Ben, I would not be surprised one bit if he hangs up his neon orange bull fighting shirt and becomes a full-time producer

Make sure when your watching the bull riding at the Gasconade County Fair on Wednesday, make sure to give Ben a shout out.

He won't be hard to find.

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