Mowata bullfighter will use his skills at National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas
CROWLEY – Coming from a rodeo family doesn’t always mean a person is destined to become a saddle bronc or bull rider.
Take Mowata’s Kenny Bergeron, for instance.
Bergeron, whose family was active on the rodeo scene when he was younger, elected to be in front of the bull instead of on top of one when he started his career as a bullfighter (formerly known as a rodeo clown) at the age of 15.
“My uncle and my dad rodeoed and I kind of grew up around it,” said Bergeron. “Bull fighting is kind of one of those deals where if you can’t ride and you can’t rope, it’s kind of the next step in the deal.
“It’s not really that hard to do. You just get out there, step in front of those bulls and try and keep them away from your cowboy.
“As far as talent wise, I guess it’s not the hardest thing in the world to do. Mentally it’s hard and it can be hard physically sometimes; and to be good at it, you’ve got to know what you’re doing.
“But that’s how I got into it - I couldn’t rope and I couldn’t ride and I wanted to rodeo so that’s what I did.”
Bergeron’s hard work and dedication to his occupation over the years had paid off with three straight Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) nominations for the Bullfighter of the Year award.
However, the biggest honor for Bergeron was being selected as one of three bullfighters who will work the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas, Nevada beginning on Thursday.
“The Bullfighter of the Year award is just a year-end award,” said Bergeron. “This year I’m actually getting to fight bulls at the rodeo. Anybody who rodeos, this is the ultimate goal. This is the largest rodeo in the world and it’s the most prestigious rodeo in the world.”
Bergeron’s selection to participate in the finals is a tribute to his skills.
“You have to be selected by the top 20 bull riders to get to fight bulls at this rodeo,” said Bergeron. “Those guys, it’s their butt on the line at this rodeo. So if they select you to fight bulls at it, that means that they think that you’re the best; you’re the guy that they want out there to protect them and that in itself, for me, is what makes it such an honor.
“The best bull riders in the world want me to be out there for them.”
Bergeron is the first from Louisiana to fight bulls at the NFR since 1974. He is also the first ever from Acadia Parish to do it.
“To be from Louisiana and get to go do this rodeo is something,” said Bergeron. “It’s usually a lot of guys from out West that do the NFR because that’s where the big rodeos happen. To be from Louisiana and get selected to do the NFR, it’s a very rare deal and I’m pretty excited to have this opportunity. I never thought I’d get the chance to do this.”
Bergeron has been a member of the PRCA for 10 years and has been fighting bulls altogether for 13 years.
And he has the bumps and bruises to prove it.
“It can be dangerous,” said Bergeron of his profession. “I’ve broken my foot. I’ve got three screws in my right foot. A few years ago I had a bull throw me head first into the buggy chute and it fractured my skull, paralyzed my face for about six weeks and broke my nose.
“There are times when it gets pretty rough but it’s like anything else: If you want to do it bad enough you just keep on doing it.”
And Bergeron has kept doing it.
“It is a lot of fun,” said Bergeron. “I’m no different than anyone else who jumps out of airplanes or drives (race) cars. That’s just the way that I get my little adrenaline kick.”
Bergeron’s bullfighting career keeps him active and has him traveling roughly 175 to 200 days out of the year. He is also the shop foreman for Manco Rentals in Eunice and also has a welding business on the side.
But he does still find time to spend with his wife Kellye and two children - a 4-year old daughter named Addison and 4-month old son named Grady.
“It gets tough on me being away from home and away from my family because I am on the road a lot,” said Bergeron. “But, it’s part of the deal. It’s just like me working offshore or what not. You have to do what you have to do to make a living and this is my profession.
“I get to bring my family with me for the local rodeos and usually I bring them with me on my little winter run - Lake Charles, Lafayette, Jackson, Miss. - and by the time they get finished going to all of those, they want four or five months off from rodeoing.”