A bull bashing its way through a fence and narrowly missing several spectators threatened to turn the Taieri Plain into Pamplona at the Outram Rodeo yesterday.
A witness said screams went up from the crowd when the bull smashed through the fence near the start of the event, before rushing past the spectator bank near the public bar and out towards a back paddock.
"It was lucky no one was injured," the witness said.
Outram Rodeo Club president James Adam said neither the bull nor any spectators were injured in the incident.
"He's now safe and sound out the back, with a few dairy cows."
Adam said the club was pleased by the way the rodeo ran, and estimated a crowd of about 2000 had turned out despite changeable weather.
A check of all animals by veterinarian Donald Murray, of Murrays Veterinary Clinic in Mosgiel, confirmed no animals had been injured during competition, he said.
Unlike at the Wanaka Rodeo earlier this month, where a Queenstown animal activist group picketed the event, there were no protesters yesterday.
St John spokeswoman Ngaire Jones said three people were taken to hospital for injuries sustained during the rodeo, one in a moderate condition and two with minor injuries.
However, Sam Church, of the well-known rodeo family, was already suffering from a foot injury when he turned up to compete.
He sustained the injury at a rodeo a couple of weeks ago, and had spent two days in hospital, he explained.
"A bull stepped on it pretty good."
However, the 20-year-old Geraldine fencer was not going to let a severely swollen foot stop him competing in the open bull ride, open saddle bronc and open bareback.
Also competing yesterday was his sister, Renae Church (17), of Palmerston.
She rode Yellow (15) to good effect in the barrel racing and in the New Zealand secondary schools team.
The East Otago High School year-13 pupil funds her increasingly expensive rodeo habit by working part-time in a cafe in Palmerston.
"It gets more expensive the better you get," she said.
The rodeo hosted a team of young competitors from Australia, who competed in barrel racing, bull riding, youth steer riding and breakaway roping in the Trans Tasman High School Challenge.
Renae said the Australians and Kiwis were getting along well, having enjoyed a visit to Moana Pool yesterday.
The New Zealand team performed a rousing haka for their Australians counterparts, who did not back down even as the Kiwis got close.