By Elizabeth Klinge

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — For the first time since COVID-19 shutdowns, a national tour returned to Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center. Pro bull riders from across the nation Friday began a three-day competition in front of thousands of fans and a nationally televised audience on CBS.

“It should be a very safe environment to come and be entertained this weekend,” said Dan Hickman, operations president of Professional Bull Riders.

READ MORE: Video Released Of Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting Of Tahoe Park Resident Who Shot At Authorities

For many fans, it’s their first time being in a crowd and attending a show in nearly two years.

“We finally get some normal back in our lives,” one fan said.

PBR was the first sports league to allow fans back inside arenas and their pandemic protocols had to be created from scratch.

“We drafted a plan—a set of protocols—that we could adapt, and it ultimately paved the way to us being able to be the first sport to return back to competition,” Hickman said.

READ MORE: Coroner Identifies Passenger Killed In Wrong-Way DUI Crash On Highway 99

G1C’s schedule has frequently changed during the pandemic, with artists like Justin Bieber and Celine Dion rescheduling tour dates. But now that state and local protocols allow large-scale events, fans are happy to see some normalcy return.

“It feels good. It’s different but it feels good to be out and about,” another fan said.

It’s exciting for PBR competitors to be able to safely welcome back the crowds.

“The energy level that we’ve seen in these arenas when we are one of the first sports back in that market, it’s unreal. Everybody’s excited to be back out and seeing live entertainment,” Hickman said.

They say blazing trails and exploring new frontiers has always been the cowboy way.

MORE NEWS: Looting Suspect Accused Of Dozens Of Thefts Arrested In South Lake Tahoe

A portion of this weekend’s competition will air here on CBS13 Sunday morning. Next week, the arena will also feature another returning roadshow. The Monster Jam series will be here Friday through Sunday.

Elizabeth Klinge