A native Henry Countian who has hit it big in professional bull riding in the last few years will be bringing a top-level pro event to his hometown this year.
Cody Nance, one of the most successful competitors in PBR (Professional Bull Riding) for the last 10-plus years, is planning Cody Nance’s Professional Bull Riding in Paris on July 2-3 at the Henry County Fairgrounds.
The event was announced Monday morning during a meeting of the Henry County Tourism Authority, followed by a press conference hosted by the Paris-Henry County Chamber of Commerce.
Nance said he expected between 35 and 45 of the top bullriders from across the country to compete in the two-night event.
He is anticipating the fairgrounds arena will be able to seat 75% capacity because of COVID-19 concerns. That would be about 2,500 people a night.
“This event will attract national attention as a PBR-sanctioned event,” Nance said. “Not only will the competitors come from across the country, but people will travel to an event like this.”
The tourism authority approved a $15,000 donation to help Nance promote the event.
For the last three years, Nance has hosted the Cody Nance Invitational/Cooper Tires Bull Riding Challenge at Oman Arena in Jackson.
Nance and his wife, Korie, who is a nurse, have a home in the Paris Landing area.
“I think it’s very exciting to have a homegrown talent who’s made it big come here with an event like this,” said Henry County Mayor John Penn Ridgeway. “Our residents are very hungry for some entertainment.”
Tickets for the event are not available yet, but Travis McLeese, chamber CEO, said announcements will be made on that as the event gets closer. Right now, officials are seeking out sponsors, while keeping an eye on the COVID-19 pandemic to make sure numbers are favorable for the event.
Nance’s event in Jackson this year attracted about 2,800 people, as the arena was only allowing 50% capacity.
“And we sold out (the 2,800 seats) before the doors even opened,” said Korie Nance. “Before COVID, we had sold out the full capacity in the previous years.”
Nance said he hopes he will be able to bring in vendors, food trucks and maybe even a concert in conjunction with the event.
As far as attracting top talent from the PBR to come in to compete in the event, Nance said “If I bring in good bulls and good money, they’ll show.”
PBR events are regularly covered by CBS Sports on a nationwide basis. The Nances said the Paris event, because it will be a lower tier event than the elite tour, would likely be televised on RidePass, a live streaming service offered through the PBR.
Nance is a former PBR Rookie of the Year who has qualified for the World Finals in all of his 12 seasons on the elite tour. He finished a career best fourth in 2013.
Korie Nance said her husband has at least begun to think about retirement from the tour.
“I’ve been in thirty major events a year for the last dozen years, riding like three to five bulls a week, then spending time recovering on my off days, so I haven’t had time up until now to work on something like this (the Paris event),” Cody Nance said.
“We love that we can hopefully get the community involved,” Korie Nance said. “We want to get kids interested in the sport at a young age.”