Justin Rumford

The only difference between Justin Rumford and a stand-up comedian, is that he’s doing his job from the middle of a rodeo arena instead of a stage with a spotlight. Rumford, who lives in Ponca City, Okla., is the “stand-up comedian” – rodeo clown – for the 2014 Buffalo Bill Rodeo. His job during the rodeo is twofold. He provides the laughs and banters with the announcer. But during the bull riding his more dangerous job begins. Rumford is a barrelman: the cowboy who works the barrel, providing an oasis of safety for bullfighters and bull riders, in case an angry bull decides to chase them.

Rumford grew up in a rodeo family and competed in junior high, high school and college rodeo. He was a full time steer wrestler, but then blew out his knee.  While he recovered, he worked as an assistant rodeo coach at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford. After his knee healed, he helped with the Cody (Wyo.) Night Rodeo for three seasons, then began as a livestock truck driver for North Platte’s stock contractor, Bennie Beutler of Beutler and Son Rodeo. He never considered being a full time rodeo clown, but after a few tries as clown, he changed his mind. “I worked the Pretty Prairie (Kan.) bull riding, and they gave me $1000. And I thought, why the heck am I working so hard for $800 a week when I can make $1000 a weekend? So I jumped ship for that.”

And lucky for rodeo fans, Rumford is still clowning, and winning honors at it. In 2012 and 2013, he’s been honored as the PRCA’s Clown of the Year. The award is voted on by his peers and rodeo committees, and Justin is humbled to get it. “I don’t know if I deserve it, but I’m fortunate to accept it. It’s unbelievable.” In September of 2013, he and his wife Ashley became the parents of triplets, daughters Livi and Lola, and a son, Bandy. The babies were already at their first rodeo in Austin, Texas in March, and Justin can’t wait to take them on the road with him. “I have a 44 foot trailer,” he said, “and I can bring the whole family with me. I’d rather be miserable on the road (with the family) than happy by myself.”

Justin will entertain during each night of the Buffalo Bill Rodeo June 18-21.

 

 

NEBRASKAland Days June 13-23, 2018