"Whoa!" Ridgely said as the bull headed his way. "Too many players on the field!"
Clowns on foot and cowboys on horseback tried in vain to corral the bull, who repeatedly charged anything mobile and clanged his horns on the metal fencing. High Voltage dug in his hooves and thwarted the lasso several times before two riders yanked him from the ring.
"Our bulls are not lions, but you have to have a healthy respect for them," Williams said. "We don't holler at them or beat them. We talk to them."
Ridgely found four volunteers willing to play poker in the ring for a $100 pot. In the cowboy version, the last player in his seat wins, even as a bull tests its horns on flimsy white plastic chairs.
Ridgely asked state Sen. Larry E. Haines, in the audience with his wife, to participate in next week's poker game. Haines promised, "I'll do it."
Collins, the arena manager, has not missed a "Battle of the Beast" since the opening night of its first winter season and hopes to sign the show up for next year. "It is amazing how many people know this stuff and follow it every week," he said.
First prize, a $1,134 purse, went to Trinity Dunkelberger of West Virginia, resplendent in orange-and-black chaps decorated with cartoon characters.
"Every one of these guys is a true rider who puts heart and soul into this," said Dayle Good of Frederick as she made her way down a table of cowboys signing autographs.
Kevin Henley, who has taken second place twice in the arena this season, was undeterred when a fall from Crackerjack knocked him out of the final round. He vowed to return to the remaining shows.
"I love this," said Henley, Carroll County-bred in New Windsor. "You bet I will keep doing it."
The shows begin at 7 p.m., and the gates open at 5 p.m. The shows continue through March 26. Admission is $18; $10 for ages 6 to 12. Children younger than age 6 will be admitted free. The Carroll County Agriculture Center is at 700 Agriculture Center Drive in Westminster.