Cross Insurance Center transforms ahead of bull riding event

PBR staff say Bangor is their favorite stop
Tons of dirt is moved into place on the floor of the Cross Center to prepare for this weekend's...
Tons of dirt is moved into place on the floor of the Cross Center to prepare for this weekend's event.(wabi)
Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 5:52 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The first event for the Cross Insurance Center since the pandemic shut things down last March is getting underway this weekend.

“For the crew this is our favorite stop of the year.” So says Chris Mallonee, ground engineer for PBR.

“A lot of people call it a rodeo, but this is not.” says Stephen Jester, PBR technical director and production manager. “This is bull riding. The lights, the sounds, the video. It’s a rock and roll show.”

What does it take to put on nearly 30 of these high action events in a year?

“A lot of planning, a lot of coordination because we do so many back to back dates.” says Jester.

More than a dozen PBR crew members are working to transform the Cross Center into a bull riding arena for this weekend’s PBR Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour.

“My belt buckle says ground engineer, but I’m dirt guy.”

Chris Mallonee spreads the dirt out as fast as it can be trucked in.

“Very fast paced. Everybody on this crew, we all work well together. I enjoy it, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

Other crew members work to set up a control system for the show, and solve problems with equipment.

“We started at 8am this morning we already got all our show rigging up in the air.” says Jester. “Dirt is coming in, steel’s coming in later tonight, they’ll be working probably till about 1am.”

Their hard work will pay off as the professional bull riders take center stage for three days.

“We’ve made a lot of friends here over the six years that come out again and again.” says Jester. “We get to see them and their families.”

When the show ends on Sunday, they’ll have to do it all in reverse.

“Get in, get out, make sure we put on a good show, and on to the next one.” Mallonee says with a nod.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re two years old or you’re 90 or somewhere in between.” says Jester. “People love it, if you haven’t experienced it you have to come and see it live, not on TV.”

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