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Bull injures visitors at Dakota County Fair

FARMINGTON — A runaway rodeo bull caused injuries to several visitors at the Dakota County Fair on Wednesday evening.

The bull escaped from his pen, then broke through the gates and ran through the fairgrounds.

Eight people were injured in the incident, according to Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows.

The most seriously injured person was Cottage Grove resident Barbara Goggins, who was taken by helicopter to Hennepin County Medical Center. A sheriff’s deputy who shot the bull also was transported to a hospital but was treated and released.

None of the other people who were injured at the fairgrounds south of the Twin Cities required transportation to a hospital.

Farmington residents Leif and Lori Classon had a full view of the incident from the bleachers of the grandstand. Lori Classon said they could see that the bull had escaped from its pen but was still within a fenced area around the grandstand.

Several bull riders and the rodeo’s pickup man tried to lasso the bull. At one point, one successfully roped the bull, named Red 43, by the horns.

“But the bull took off and pulled the rope out of his hands,” Classon said.

The bull ran along a fence line to the gate. The Classons saw the bull jump up on the gate, forcing it open. From the top of the bleachers, they watched as the bull ran through the parking area next, not far from the midway.

Spectators heard gunshots, Classon said. Sheriff’s deputy Matthew Regis shot the bull twice at “very close range,” Bellows said in a release. The bull knocked the deputy down.

After being shot, the bull turned again. It started running south toward the midway. Rodeo staff and Dakota County sheriff’s deputies chased the bull back toward the grandstand area. The pickup man threw a lasso at the bull, and caught it again. This time, the bull didn’t get loose. It was guided back into the arena, then led to a trailer.

“He really struggled for a while, too. That bull did not want to go back. He even laid down on the ground for a while,” Classon said.

A short round of applause and a few cheers went up once the bull was secured. But the applause didn’t last long.

“We cheered when they brought the bull in, but it was just kind of an odd silence after that because that’s when we started hearing rumors that people got run over by the bull,” Classon said.

Many spectators wanted to leave after the incident, but deputies held them back until all emergency personnel were finished tending to the injured fairgoers. The rodeo started up again about 45 minutes later, bull rider Nick Stolt said.

“Everybody prayed for the people who were injured,” he said. “It really sucked the energy and the momentum out of the riders. We were OK if it wasn’t going to go on.”

The rodeo was a Midwest Bull Riders Association event, presented by Rice Bull Riding Co. of Princeton.

Stolt was sitting on the chutes when the bull escaped, with his wife and young son nearby.

“I’ve never seen anything like that happen before in my 12 years (of bull riding),” Stolt said. “It was scary.”

Bellows said the incident could have been much worse.

“Given the large number of people attending the fair on Wednesday evening and the fact the bull ran into an area congested with fairgoers, we are fortunate there were not many more injuries,” he said.

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