Award-winning rodeo clown will be back to entertain the fans in Gooding
GOODING, Idaho – At most rodeos he works, John Harrison has a way of impacting many people who pay to see a good event.
He’s an entertainer, and a darned good one. Harrison is one of the most sought-after rodeo clowns in the business. His antics and his acts have a way of cheering souls and softening the most brittle of hearts, but the folks in Gooding repaid him in ways he’ll never forget.
“That rodeo is truly one of the most fun rodeos that there is in the country,” said Harrison, who worked in Gooding two years ago and is eager to return. “I am pumped. There are two or thee crowds in the nation that are truly electric, and Gooding is definitely one of them.”
He will return to the Gooding Pro Rodeo, set for Thursday, Aug. 17-Saturday, Aug. 19, with a special “Beauty and the Beast” performance set for Wednesday, Aug. 16. All performances take place at 8 p.m. at Andy James Arena. It’s where he will showcase the talents that have afforded him some high praise.
A season ago, Harrison was recognized as the PRCA Comedy Act of the Year for the second time, the Coors Man in the Can for a fifth time and the PRCA Clown/Barrelman of the Year for the first time. It was the first time in 11 years that anyone had earned all three clowning honors.
“We’d hired John to come back to Gooding before all that happened, because he was such a hit for our fans when he was here the last time,” said Don Gill, the fair and rodeo’s manager. “People have been talking about John, so it’s exciting to know he’s coming back.
“He’s a good fit for our fan base. He is talented and funny, but the big thing is the amount of energy he brings. Our crowd is full of energy, so when you have someone who can match that, you want to take advantage of it.”
The Gooding Pro Rodeo is best known for its “Beer Worthy” section, which offers an adult beverage to cowboys and cowgirls whose performances warrant such a prize; that could be a fast time, a big score or even a wreck. It’s the most identifiable piece of the rodeo’s lore, but it’s an extension of an already rowdy crowd that packs into the stadium.
“The ‘Beer Worthy’ section itself stands out,” said Harrison, a husband and father of four from Soper, Oklahoma. “It’s the only rodeo that has it, and they are true fans. They recognize a good ride, and they say whether or not it’s beer worthy. I get to watching, too, because it’s unique and a lot of fun.
His work is also a reflection of the team atmosphere that encompasses each of the four nights of rodeo produced. Harrison will work with announcer Steve Kenyon, known for his work on The Cowboy Channel; the rodeo’s volunteers and staff; and Jill Loden, a three-time PRCA Sound Director of the Year.
“Jill will rock them with the music, adding her own high energy to it,” Harrison said. “She has the music up, and the people are into it. The crowd is also right up on you, and I love it. They are into the energy of the rodeo itself.”
That helps those involved in the rodeo even more. Cowboys and cowgirls seem to compete harder when the crowd is into it like the folks are in Gooding. The same happens for the entertainers. Of course, it helps that Harrison has a brilliant personality that so many appreciate.
“John is one of the best human beings in the whole world,” said Haley Proctor, a trick rider and specialty act who also will perform in Gooding this year. “I’ve known John since I was little, and he’s been nothing but supportive; he’s everyone’s biggest fan, and he’s there to give advice if you need it.
“John can get a crowd louder and wilder; he is an incredible entertainer.”
Harrison travels the country entertaining rodeo crowds. It’s more than a job, though. It’s the thrill of excitement. He has been an entertainer most of his life. He began as a trick rider and specialty act, then transitioned to wearing greasepaint and manning a barrel as a means to continue working in an industry he loves.
His grandfather, Freckles Brown, was the 1962 world champion bull rider who has been inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Harrison’s athleticism and comedic talents are on full display every time he enters an arena. Having the opportunity to play before crowds like they get in Gooding is just the perfect topping to an already delightful cake.
“If they’re having fun, you’re having fun,” Harrison said. “You feed off what they do. With this rodeo, you’re going to go 100 mph for two hours and do anything you can to entertain them.”