Bull riding takes on a pink hue
David Halimi moved to the United States when he was 16 from Persia (otherwise known as Iran). His family was Jewish and generally unaccepted in their homeland. These days Halimi works as owner of Diamond W Western Wear, as well as other properties around Chico. And he thinks he’s tough.
Tough enough to wear pink, even.
This weekend at the Silver Dollar Fairground, Halimi will don a bright-pink shirt and head over to a good, old-fashioned Western rodeo. In fact, he’s the one organizing the National Bullriding Championship event, now in its 13th year, along with co-producer Megan Moffett.
“Over the years it grew large enough that I expanded it to two nights,” Halimi said. That was nine years ago. “We might be looking at three nights someday soon.”
This year’s event will incorporate all of the favorites: The bull-riding, of course, along with the cowboy poker, and mutton-busting for the kids. It will take on a slightly different hue, though. This year, Halimi—and Diamond W—are challenging attendees to put on their pink cowboy gear, or pink anything, really, and show their support of breast-cancer awareness.
“One of the things we have always tried to incorporate into this event is some sense of community,” said Halimi, who is also president of both Congregation Beth Israel and Chico State’s Hillel. “We have a long history of giving back to the community through this event, so we thought it would be great to do that with a cause that’s somewhat close to my family.
“My sister had breast cancer, as did one of my good friends. They were fortunate enough to catch it early, but lot of people aren’t—that’s why it’s really important to advocate for awareness.”
With an average attendance of 5,000 per day, Halimi should feel confident he’s reaching people, many of whom will be men—macho men, at that.
“I like bull riding. I really respect it as an extreme sport,” Halimi said, his accent thick but easy to understand. “We get some of the greatest athletes in the world, and very tough bulls.”
One of the cooler things about the Bullriding Championship is that it gives local guys—and gals—an opportunity to get a piece of the action. This year, four local men will compete in the bull-riding contest against the pros. The winner will receive a chunk of the $12,000 purse and what Halimi sees as the crowning glory, a handmade belt buckle designed by none other than Halimi himself.
“Each year I design a one-of-a-kind buckle, with solid gold, rubies, emeralds, and other stones,” he said. “We’ve built a reputation because of that, because of the quality. That’s one of my passions—designing, in particular buckles.”
One local guy, AJ Hamre, took home the cash and buckle two years ago. He’ll be competing again this year.
“It jumpstarted his career,” Halimi said of the win. “Now he travels around.”
“Two years ago, the winner of the cowboy poker was a woman,” he added.
This year, despite the pink theme, there will be no female contenders. Halimi isn’t surprised.
“Maybe it’s because women tend to be smarter than men.”