Talk about hitting the bull’s-eye.
Texas Red wasn’t much of a bucking bull when he was alive, but the big-horned Brahma became a celebrity of sorts after he died and his owners paid $15,000 to stuff him.
“We bucked him for a couple of years, but he just wasn’t a great bucking bull,” said Kenny Petet, owner of Speck Enterprises Inc., a western entertainment venture that also includes Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey, which performs at rodeos. “He was too big to get out of his own way, but he was just right for this.”
Texas Red's posthumous fame is a result of his work as a sitting bull.
Each year, thousands of visitors to the Fort Worth Stock Show climb aboard the rank, 1,200 pound bull, throw one arm in the air and flash their best bull-riding smile. They take home a souvenir photo — $10 for a single 4x6 or $15 for digital images on a CD — and a Stock Show memory worthy of a mantle.
“People get into it,” Kenny Petet said. “They get to whooping and hollering. It’s fun.”
Petet’s wife, Nicole, is the one behind the camera. Each year, she said the same faces return to their booth in the Amon G. Carter Jr. Exhibits Hall.
“It is a tradition,” Nicole Petet said. “Just like people go get their picture made with Santa Claus at Christmas, they come to the Stock Show and get their picture made with the bull.”
The couple recalled a woman who took her first picture on the bull when she was eight months pregnant with her son. Every year after that, she brought her son back for a photo, which she keeps in a special frame. Her son is now a teenager and recently tried to protest when his mother pushed for the annual photo.
“She wanted one last one,” Kenny Petet said, chuckling. “He didn’t want to get on it, but he did it for her.”
And while there may be a few reluctant riders, most are gung-ho, especially if they have had an adult beverage or two. There is no age or weight limit — or even a limit to the number of people.
“We’ll get five or six people on him at a time,” Kenny Petet said. “He’s built to take the weight.”
The Petets said their youngest customer so far has been 2 months old; the oldest was 93.
“We had a 93-year-old lady who so wanted on there,” Kenny Petet said. “It was probably a 15-minute deal but she wanted on and we were going to let her.”
The couple’s bull photo business began about 15 years ago at the Mesquite Championship Rodeo. Kenny Petet was a former bullfighter who worked for famed stock contractor Neal Gay. Petet bought a taxidermied bull, Skoal Speck, from Gay for $5,000 and launched the business.
Twelve years ago, the couple was invited to also set up shop at the Fort Worth Stock Show. And, well, so far it has been a great ride.
“It is all about making memories,” Nicole Petet said.