DUNCAN, Okla. – Do you remember that guy that could make you laugh no matter what?
Whether it was in the classroom or work site or just hanging out, he was always funny. Actions. Antics. Personality. It all came together in one package.
Welcome to the world of Justin Rumford of Ponca City, Okla., who will serve as the barrelman/funnyman and add his flavor of fun to the overall entertainment package that is the 2012 Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18-Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Stephens County Expo Center in Duncan.
“People want to laugh at each other more than they want to laugh at something,” said Rumford, who worked the Chisholm Trail PRCA Rodeo this past May. “When I’m in the arena, I’m saying the same stuff I’d say if I wasn’t clowning. It’s just me being me.”
Rumford grew up in Abbyville, Kan., and is the third generation of his family in the rodeo business. His grandfather, Floyd, established Rumford Rodeo Co., and his father, Bronc, continues to be an integral part of rodeo; in fact, he’s the chairman of the Prairie Circuit board.
Justin Rumford has done just about everything a person can in rodeo, but he seems to have found a home in the barrel. In fact, in just his second year at it, Rumford has been nominated for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Clown of the Year.
“I t means a lot because I’ve been involved in rodeo my whole life,” Rumford said. “I’ve never done anything else, and I’ve never wanted to do anything else. I’ve always wanted to be successful. A couple of years ago when I started this venture, I knew if I worked really hard and tried really hard that I could get to the top in the hurry.”
It helps to do something you love.
“This clowning deal is the best thing I’ve ever had,” said Rumford, who competed in college rodeo at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. “It’s something in rodeo that I can have longevity in. There’s not just a ton of risk, and it’s something I enjoy so much.”
In his lifetime, Rumford has been a contestant, a stock contractor, a bullfighter, a flankman, a pickup man, a truck driver; you name it, he’s done it. In fact, this isn’t his first Prairie Circuit Finals. He worked the finale last year when it took place in Weatherford, Okla. More importantly, he was a three-time qualifier in steer wrestling.
“I don’t think I’ve ever missed a Prairie Circuit Finals,” he said. “It’s just something I’ve always done. I’ve flanked bucking horses there, been the chute boss, flanked calves, untied calves. I’ve made the full circle.
So has his family. His sister, Haley Schneeberger, has been named the PRCA’s Secretary of the Year each of the past five seasons; she’s nominated again this year. She has worked with her brother in an orchestrated opening, and she’s served as the finale’s secretary. Schneeberger has been named the PRCA’s Secretary of the Year each of the past five seasons; she’s nominated again this year.
The rodeo lifestyle is that of a gypsy – there’s no staying in one place for long. For contestants, the bulk of the rodeo season is spent traveling from one event to another. That means lots of miles. Contract personnel – announcers, stock contractors, clowns, bullfighters, secretaries, etc. – don’t travel nearly as much, but they’re on the road plenty. Most work in a different locale every week.
“I don’t mind it, and I get to do it with Ashley,” Rumford said of his wife, who is a PRCA timer. “We bought a fifth-wheel, and we rodeo nine moths solid throughout the year. This year we’ve only had two weekends where we haven’t been at a rodeo.
“It never gets old. When one rodeo’s over, one committee is disappointed that the rodeo is over, so you drive to the next place. It starts all over again, and everybody’s excited again.”
There are many things that come with the rodeo lifestyle, and Rumford seems to enjoy them all. From meeting new people daily to hanging out with friends, family and friends who seem like family, there are many reasons he loves what he does.
“My main goal is to work the NFR, whether it’s flanking or bulldogging or being in the barrel,” Rumford said. “I just feel blessed to do something I love this much.”