Bullfighters & Clowns
In 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.
2014 Barrel Clown: JJ Harrison - Walla Walla, Washington
JJ Harrison 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!