Sisters Rodeo took a chance on a barrelman in 2007, a young middle school teacher who had an enormous amount of energy that translated into crowd-pleasing enthusiasm in the classroom and in the rodeo arena.
After only six years in the professional rodeo circuit, that barrelman, JJ Harrison, has been chosen Barrelman for Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas this December.
“Sisters was my first big rodeo contract,” said Harrison of Walla Walla, Washington. His telephone call to Sisters Rodeo President Glenn Miller initiated the action, then Pat Beard of Beard Rodeos recommended the young “goofy” newcomer. The long-standing relationship with Beard Rodeos made it easy for the board of directors to give Harrison a chance.
“In an arena there is no lag time, no downtime, with JJ there,” said Sisters Arena Director, John Leavitt. “That's a big part of his job, and nobody does it better.”
“Personally, I can't stand the guy,” said Leavitt, laughing boisterously, “I don't even like his jokes.” When he stopped laughing, Leavitt explained, “JJ is a great person to be around, even outside an arena. He has a knack for making people happy.”
The NFR barrelman is selected by other barrelmen and rodeo announcers in the nation. “This (NFR appointment) is the highest honor a guy in my job can have,” Harrison said, to be chosen by my peers is really special.”
“I can't thank Sisters Rodeo enough. When I got the call from the PRCA, Glenn Miller was one of the first people I called. Without Sisters, none of this would have been possible.”
Harrison has remained the barrelman/clown at Sisters Rodeo since that 2007 trial run. He has endeared himself to rodeo fans who enjoy his pranks and prattle throughout the rodeo. He also visits Sisters Elementary School during rodeo week, along with the queen and specialty act.
“I've never seen anybody handle a group of kids like JJ does,” said Veronda McConville, Sisters Elementary School Lead Secretary. “He has their undivided attention, and he promotes our Be the Three slogan of 'be respectful, be responsible and be safe.' He's a great influence on kids, and they don't forget him.”
Harrison has also been the barrelman/clown at Crooked River Roundup, Columbia River Circuit Finals Rodeo, Ellensburg Rodeo and Montana ProRodeo Circuit Finals. He believes he may be the only rodeo barrelman/clown with a Master’s Degree.
“JJ who?”, joked Sisters Rodeo President, Glenn Miller. “He is a crowd pleaser and we're very glad to have him.” In 2010, Sisters Rodeo gave Harrison a commemorative Sisters Rodeo buckle in thanks for how much he has enhanced the rodeo experience.
“Sisters gave me my first shot, and I never want to leave. This job is a team effort, and Sisters is part of that team. It will always remain a favorite rodeo to me,” Harrison concluded. “I love Central Oregon and the northwest, and I'm proud to represent my profession at this level and call the northwest my home.
“You have no idea how much I love my job and respect the people who make it possible, and I'll always be grateful for the love and support I've received in Sisters.”
Wrangler National Finals Rodeo will be held December 6-15 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sisters Rodeo has five performances on June 5 and June 7-9.
For tickets and information, call the ticket hotline at 541-549-0121 or
1-800-827-7522, or visit the ticket office, 220 West Cascade Street in Sisters. For more information, go to www.sistersrodeo.com.