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04.20.2016
George Paul Memorial Brings in Professional Rodeo’s 4 Time Clown of the Year

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 a rodeo clown at events from coast to coast and he is thrilled about being selected to come to the George Paul Memorial Bull Riding for the first time.
 
“I have been wanting to go back to Del Rio as a professional forever it seems, all I have ever seen is the pictures and stories about how awesome it was. I have been trying for 3 years to leave my schedule open so I could perform at the bull riding.”
 
Rumford, who attended a Bad Company Rodeo down in Del Rio when he was 12 is now 35 years old and has been waiting on what he calls a “glorious return to the area with the coolest fans.”
 
“Being from Abbyville, Kansas you see don’t see stuff like you do in Del Rio,” continued Rumford.
 
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 & 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 more than that in a night? So I jumped ship for the clown life.”
 
And lucky for rodeo fans, Rumford is still clowning, and winning honors at it. In 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015 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. “I have a 44 foot trailer,” he said, “and I can bring the whole family with me."
 
TICKETS: Reserved tickets can be purchased for the April 29-30, 39th George Paul Memorial Bull Riding at the bull riding office, Val Verde County Fairgrounds located under the grandstands. The box office is open from 9-5, Monday thru Friday, 830-775-9595. General Admission tickets can be purchased at Del Rio Feed and Supply, 111 East Gibbs, Cowboy John’s 611 East Gibbs and C&S Western Wear, 2200 Veterans Blvd. Performance times are 8PM Friday and Saturday nights, April 29-30.

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