rodeo’s early days, clowns were entertainers first, protectors of bull
riders second. But in today’s sport of professional rodeo, protecting
bull riders from serious injury or death is no joking matter.
Clowns are serious about saving bull riders, and often will put their
lives in jeopardy. The men in the funny outfits have honed their skills
and methods of distracting bulls, giving cowboys time to escape to the
nearest fence railing or open gate.
About two decades ago, bullfighters started competing amongst
themselves in informal bullfights, pushing each other to the edges of
daredevil stunts. In 1980, Wrangler sponsored the first Wrangler Jeans
ProRodeo Bullfight Tour, to entice and reward the unique, hardworking
professional rodeo bullfighters.
The rodeo breed of bullfighting bears no resemblance to the Spanish
event bearing the same name. In rodeo bullfighting, the four-legged
contestants always leave the arena alive and unharmed.
At St. Paul, the primary focus of the clowns is first to protect the contestants and then to entertain the crowd.
Barrel Clown: JJ Harrison - Walla Walla, Washington
hails from Walla Walla, Washington and has "always loved to perform and
make people laugh...from the classroom to the arena". Harrison left his
steady teaching position and its benefits after eight years to pursue
his bullfighting/clowning dreams. He says, "I think I'm the only clown
with a Masters degree." He uses his abilities as an entertaining clown
to bridge fans to contestants and to rodeo in general.
He's, also, a kid magnet and has worked with public schools in his hometown area in a bullying prevention
effort, getting children to talk about the realities of bullying and
the right ways to address this emerging, serious concern for families
and schools as today's youth tap into ways to target each other that
transcend playground taunts. His efforts teaching and entertaining have
not gone unnoticed: He has been booked at many of the PRCA's top events
including as Barrel Clown at the National Finals Rodeo, a particularly
meaningful honor because selection is made by his peers... other clowns
and the contestants.
We look forward to having this greatly talented and insightful
entertainer in our arena providing color, action, fun, and laughter for
all. Don't miss JJ at his best!