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Organizers add bucking bull to Concord’s Market Days

  • Jeffrey Joyce, 3, takes a drink of water while walking around with his mother, Paula Phillips, of Laconia, during Intown Concord's annual Market Days Festival on Thursday, July 18, 2013.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / monitor staff)

    Jeffrey Joyce, 3, takes a drink of water while walking around with his mother, Paula Phillips, of Laconia, during Intown Concord's annual Market Days Festival on Thursday, July 18, 2013.

    (JOHN TULLY / monitor staff)

  • Lauren Folini helps her son, hunter Gagnon, 4, put his shoes on after playing in the inflatable bounce structures during Intown Concord's annual Market Days Festival, which kicked off Thursday, July 18, 2013, on Main Street and will run through Saturday.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / monitor staff)

    Lauren Folini helps her son, hunter Gagnon, 4, put his shoes on after playing in the inflatable bounce structures during Intown Concord's annual Market Days Festival, which kicked off Thursday, July 18, 2013, on Main Street and will run through Saturday.

    (JOHN TULLY / monitor staff)

  • Jeffrey Joyce, 3, takes a drink of water while walking around with his mother, Paula Phillips, of Laconia, during Intown Concord's annual Market Days Festival on Thursday, July 18, 2013.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / monitor staff)
  • Lauren Folini helps her son, hunter Gagnon, 4, put his shoes on after playing in the inflatable bounce structures during Intown Concord's annual Market Days Festival, which kicked off Thursday, July 18, 2013, on Main Street and will run through Saturday.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / monitor staff)

Before the opening of this year’s Market Days Festival, Andrew Hatch was a self-proclaimed “bull riding virgin.”

But the vice president of Intown Concord changed that yesterday afternoon when he took a ride on the festival’s mechanical bull, one of the newest and most widely discussed additions to Market Days.

“You need to grip harder than I expected and it’s quite wide,” Hatch said after his experience. “Quite a workout, but a lot of fun.”

Hatch was one of several people to ride the bull during the first day of Market Days, a Main Street festival of vendors, activities and live music presented by Intown Concord that runs through tomorrow night.

The mechanical bull is located in the inflatables extravaganza section across from The Barley House, one of the bull’s sponsors, and costs three $1 tickets to ride.

“The bull has been something I’ve been trying to add to the event for years,” said Kim Murdoch, Market Days director. “It’s just sort of a silly thing, and I thought it would be fun, funny and enjoyable to watch.”

Murdoch said the bull was part of an effort by festival organizers to turn the north end of Main Street into an area with fun, active games and wellness activities. A few tents over was another new addition with similar aims, the “Move It, Move It” tent where attendees could partake in yoga, Zumba and other fitness classes.

The mechanical bull was intended to be an adult-friendly attraction in a

previously kid-centered section of Market Days, Murdoch said.

“We don’t think only the kids should get to play, we think the adults should play as well,” she said. “We think it’s going to be a very fun event. . . . It allows people to be kids again.”

Although nearly all of the riders yesterday afternoon were children, Murdoch said she expects the ride to gain popularity with adults as the festival evenings progress.

“There are lots of after-dinner plans in the works,” she said. “We imagine there will be some competition. . . . It plays to the sense of child in people, but it also plays to the sense of competitiveness.”

But before adults had a chance to descend on the ride when the work day ended, a handful of children spent the day trying their best to conquer the bull.

Sal Abuin of Penacook thought the bull moved a little slower than he would have expected, but the 9-year-old said his first experience on a mechanical bull was challenging.

“It’s hard to stay on,” he said. “Especially when it moves one direction then all of a sudden it turns to another.”

For Brendan Griffin of Bow, the most difficult part of riding the bull may have been climbing onto its back. After a few failed tries, his mother, Jen Griffin, climbed into the inflatable arena and helped him up.

Once he was in position, Brendan, 8, said his favorite part of the ride was its unpredictability.

“I liked that you didn’t know what it was going to do next,” he said.

Former governor John Lynch stopped by the mechanical bull tent shortly after 2 p.m., but declined to ride.

“I’m not a bull guy,” Lynch said. “That’s not my skill set.”

He did, however, praise the Market Days organizers for their work on this year’s festival, especially on their efforts to incorporate more physical activities.

“It’s great you’re doing this,” Lynch said. “I’ve been coming here for a long time. It’s a great family thing with a lot of events and activities scheduled for the family. I certainly encourage families in the area to come here and enjoy it.”

(Mel Flanagan can be reached at 369-3321 or mflanagan@cmonitor.com.)

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