First ever Nicky Wheeler Bull Riding competition set

by By Cristin Parker

Rodeo fans might have noticed a name change to one of this year’s local annual bull riding events.

That’s no mistake – the annual Bull Bash Revolution event has officially become the Nicky Wheeler Memorial Bull Riding event, to honor the man who made the event what it is today.

This year’s event is produced by previous Stock Contractor of the Year and World Champion Bull Team owner Jeff Harris and family, of Palestine, and Jacksonville couple Haley and Brian Beasley.

All proceeds of the rodeo benefit Cherokee County’s 4-H and FFA scholarship programs.

“Nicky was one of my best friends in the world,” Jeff Harris said. “He’s been in and around the industry forever and just loved it. He started this in Palestine and felt there was a need here (in Cherokee County) for what we’re doing. He worked to build it up because there’s a lot of kids out there who need help, especially those who might not get any scholarships otherwise.”

Wheeler, of Flint, passed away Sunday, April 15, after a heart attack. He was born June 26, 1956, in Lubbock, and was a lifelong rodeo star. According to his obituary, Wheeler qualified for and competed at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Oklahoma City, Okla., in 1977, where he rode nine out of 10 bulls to finish in the top five in the world. He also won the East Texas Rodeo Association Year-End Championship and Finals in 1979.
“Nicky was a great bull rider, regardless of what era it is – there are very few people that go to the NFR and ride nine of 10,” friend and colleague Tuff Hedeman said in a statement published on the website, “Whatever he did, he was successful, a smart guy, and he treated everyone like they wanted to be treated.”

Wheeler was also co-owner of Fresh Country Fund-Raising in Longview, a statewide fundraising company that supports 4-H and FFA chapters nationwide.

“He loved kids and wanted to do everything he could to help support them,” Harris said. “His children are carrying that torch now.”

The two-round event will help competitors advance into the national professional bull riding circuit and features classic rodeo entertainment including bull riding, bullfighters, and for the kids, mutton busting and goat roping events.

Chutes open at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Jacksonville Rodeo Arena, 915 Peeples St., Jacksonville.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Raven Jute Company, located at 107 E. Commerce St., Jacksonville, or in advance online at

This year’s event continues to be a part of the Tuff Hedeman Breakout Series.

Four-time World Champion and Pro Rodeo Hall of Famer Hedeman will sign autographs at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6 at Raven Jute Company.