Professional Bull Riding coming to Ocala

The first major professional sport in North America to return to competition in late April due to COVID-19 is adding another first.

For the first time in league history, the elite PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Unleash The Beast will travel to Ocala, opening the 2021 season at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion with the PBR Monster Energy Invitational on Saturday and Sunday.

It will feature the top 30 bull riders in the world.

Jose Vitor Leme (Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil), who claimed the 2020 PBR World Championship with seven elite tour wins, will join five additional world champions in Ocala.

The list of those competing includes three-time PBR World Champion Silvano Alves (Pilar do Sul, Brazil), two-time PBR World Champions J.B. Mauney (Mooresville, North Carolina) and Jess Lockwood (Volborg, Montana), 2018 PBR World Champion Kaique Pacheco (Itatiba, Brazil) and 2016 PBR World Champion Cooper Davis (Jasper, Texas).

Other riders who are anticipated to compete include Joao Ricardo Vieira (Itatinga, Brazil) and Keyshawn Whitehorse (McCracken Springs, Utah).

Vieira, who finished runner-up to the PBR World Championship in 2020, will turn 37 years old later this year. He almost become the oldest World Champion in league history last year.

Whitehorse, who was runner-up at the World Finals, finished the year with a career-best No. 7 world ranking.

The two-day event will begin each day at 2 p.m. at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion on 2232 NE Jacksonville Road in Ocala.

General admission tickets are priced at $50, with kids tickets (ages 5-12) available for $15, taxes and fees not included. Children under the age of 5 will gain entry to the event for free.

Organizers encourage event-goers to purchase their tickets early, with the cost of all admission levels increasing by $5-$10 on event day. You can purchase tickets online through PBRTIX.com or by calling (800) 732-1727.

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