By STEELE HAUGEN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
He went from a middle school teacher in Walla Walla, Washington to national rodeo clown rockstar, and his journey began right here in Central Oregon.
“So, all my success I think goes through Central Oregon,” J.J. Harrison said. “Not just Sisters, but Prineville as well and all the rodeos I have done down there. That is really where I developed my skill the best.”
Harrison is heading to the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo for the fifth consecutive time.
“Frank Beard, who just recently passed, which is too bad, was an icon in Sisters and Prineville, he was a stock contractor,” he said. “I did this event for Frank and Pat (Beard) saw me and he said I am going to get you some Rodeos, do this and that, I didn’t even know how it works really.”
Things for Harrison took off from there.
“Frank made a call to Glenn Miller, who is an icon, not just in Central Oregon, but in the world,” Harrison said. “He hired me for the event in Sisters and I went down, scared to death, big rodeo for me. I might have been terrible who knows.”
After his performances, the Crooked River Roundup was quick to get him to their rodeo.
“I really enjoy Prineville,” he added. “They are two very different rodeos, it’s funny and that is what’s so cool about Central Oregon. It is such an amazing place. I don’t know why I don’t live there. I love Central Oregon more than any other place on the planet and I have been to a lot of places.”
Harrison, who calls Walla Walla home now, says what sets him apart from other rodeo clowns is his ability to adlib on the spot.
“Playing with my buddy Jason Buchanan, who lives right there in Bend, Best sound man in the business,” he said. “We have a great rapport and that allows me and he is there in Prineville. I would take him everywhere I go if I could. We have done so many events together that we really play off of each other. I am a funny guy, but I am funnier with my guy Jason Buchanan behind me with the music.”
For Harrison, the Sisters Rodeo will always have a spot in his heart.
“When people ask, me no matter where I am at, and the rotary group in Clovis, California does this to me every single year,” Harrison said. ‘So, what is your favorite rodeo?’ It’s always Sisters. I always tell them, Sisters.”
The RAM National Circuit Rodeo Final will be in Florida next year.