Bull meets its demise after a run through the crowd at State Fair
[First we will give you the Star Tribune's version of the story, and then our very own Les the Midget's version - and yes, Les was actually right there when this happened.]
By Mary Lynn Smith and Maria Baca, Star Tribune Last update: August 31, 2007 - 9:50 PM
The running of the bulls was an unexpected feature event on Friday at the Minnesota State Fair.
In a brief, frenzied moment, an angry bull charged through the fairgrounds, barreled past fairgoers, butted a faded red fire hydrant and died. No one was injured. And no damage was done to fair exhibits. "Even our fire hydrant is OK and good to go," said fair spokeswoman Brienna Schuette.
Usually, mornings are much quieter on the fairgrounds.
Leo Pritschet of Oakdale was daydreaming while he dished up Pronto Pups, Tim Radtke of Lakeville was serving Icees and Matt McClay of Shoreview was slinging hot dogs and fried onions.
But then the crowd parted. Shouts erupted. And there it was: a black bull careening down the street.
"He was trying to get away from something," Radtke said.
The bull looked to be headed right to McClay's Almost a Footlong Hot Dog Stand. Then he veered away.
Phew. That was close.
Fairgoers casually strolling the street ran and scattered.
"There were a lot of people on the grounds at that time because when I got to the scene there were about 250 people standing around the bull," said Steve Pooch, deputy general manager of competition at the fair.
Were they afraid?
"I would be," Pooch said. "You have a 1,600- to 1,700-pound animal running at you, you don't want to get in its way."
Saber, the 1-year-old bull, apparently had set his sights on a fairgoer, but the man jumped out of the way, Pooch said. Then the bull turned and saw the fire hydrant, across the street from the Midwest Dairy Association's All-You-Can-Drink Milk stand. "I guess he decided to take it out on the fire hydrant," Pooch said.
A veterinarian on the scene immediately checked for a heartbeat and found none. "I don't think he felt any pain," Pooch said.
Before his short visit to the State Fair on Friday, Saber had never been off the family farm in Morris, Minn.
"He was always fine at home," said Jim Wulf, Saber's owner. "He's been around the kids there every day."
Wulf has shown cattle at the fair for nearly 30 years, and none of his animals have ever made a break before. But Saber came out of the trailer angry. Maybe it was the three-hour drive from Morris. Maybe he was uneasy about being with so many people.
"Something got him excited," Wulf said. "People have to remember that fair animals are not pets. They need to be treated responsibly."
Saber shook loose from the halter as he was being led out of the trailer. He was gone in an instant, with 16-year-old Travis Wulf on his trail.
"You're pretty helpless in that situation," Jim Wulf said.
The bull run was a first for Pooch, who has worked with livestock at the fair for 30 years. But animal mishaps do happen. Every now and then an animal will die because it can't handle the stress of a truck ride or the commotion of the fair crowds. One year, a steer more accustomed to an air-conditioned barn keeled over from a heart attack. "It just couldn't take the heat or humidity," Pooch said.
And then there was the calf that jumped over the baby stroller. "It didn't hit the stroller but you just cringe when something like that happens," Pooch said.
Jim Wulf, who had hoped to show Saber in today's livestock competition and then put him on the market in the spring, likely is out $4,000 to $6,000. Saber's body was taken to the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, where he was chemically cremated.
"It's a pretty good loss," Wulf "But were just so thankful that no one got hurt."
So is Pooch. "Bulls are replaceable."
NOW FOR THE GRAND 'POON'S VERSION OF THIS STORY
Bull goes on a Rampage at the Great Minnesota Get Together, Les the Midget is there
The Minnesota State Fair briefly turned into Pamplona this morning just before 9AM as large, over half a ton, bull broke loose from it's handlers and tore off down the streets of Great Minnesota Get Together.
The Grand Poon's Les the Midget, host of the always popular and world famous Grand 'Poon Radio Hour, was on the scene waiting for the all-you-can-drink milk booth to raise it's shutters for business. "I had a sack of Tiny Tim Mini Donuts for breakfast and I needed some milk to wash them down."
This is NOT a picture of Les the Midget trying to protect his mini-donuts.
Les was directly across the street from where the bull's rampage ended. "I was facing the milk booth, donuts in one hand, a plate of Australian Battered Potatoes in the other, when I heard a bit of a ruckus. I was having a conversation so I didn't real pay much attention, but then I heard what sounded like a very large animal skidding down on concrete or pavement. It was sort of a wet flopping and sliding sound. I was thinking it was a horse as I had seen some mounted patrols in the fairgrounds. I got turned around and saw an enormous all black bull lying on the sidewalk."
The bull in question died just to the left of where this picture was taken.
"The bull was on it's side, it's feet pointed towards me. It was craning it's neck and head up and backwards, drooling a lot, and then it put it's head down. Within a few moments a teenage looking girl showed up and jumped on the bull's neck and started tugging on a rope that it had on. It was hard to tell but it seemed like she thought she was going to keep it down and calm in case it got up and started to rampage."
"Up until that point it seemed like it was fake. I was like some sort of scene from a movie or like something you would see at Disney World. When the girl started acting like she was trying to keep the bull down, then I realized that hey, this is really going on and that thing could get up and keep going crazy. I had my 2-year-old son with so I took him up the stairs behind the milk booth just in case."
Numerous officers and fair employees rushed and arrived on the scene. "I started watching the bull's sides. It had stopped moving it's head. It wasn't long and I noticed it's sides weren't rising with it's breath any more," Les said. Word spread through the crowd that the bull was dead.
Reports conflict as to what happened to end the bull's rampage. "I didn't see it, I only heard it. Some people said that it ran into the fire hydrant with it's head and knocked itself out (actually it ended up dying so it was more than getting knocked out if that is really the case.) Other people said that a deputy shot the bull before it could hurt anyone. All I know is that when it came around by the Icee stand it was on a direct line for where I was standing, so whatever brought it down it was lucky for me. I could be dead right now."
Fair officials tried to break up the crowd and a cattle trailer arrived to remove the carcass. While they were figuring out how to move the monstrously large animal a blue tarp was used to cover it's remains. Two fork lifts assisted in the removal.
"My mother tried to get a deputy to slit the bull's neck so it could bleed out and not ruin all that meat for the family that owned it, but he only had a jack knife. The really funny part is that it died kiddie-corner from the Miracle of Life barn. Animals were in there being born and across the street this bull was dying. I guess it all comes down to the circle of life man," Les said.
Al Franken and Garrison Keillor were unavailable to the Grand 'Poon for comment on these events.