Putting to test the skill and speed of cowboys and cowgirls that's what you'll see at Rodeo Austin at the Travis County Expo Center. But there's one man who is not a rodeo athlete and is taking the spotlight.
Many may think he’s getting paid to clown around at the rodeo when they see Justin Rumford in action, “I do get to do some clown acts which are like skits like “Saturday Night Live” but at the rodeo.” But he said he prefers not to be called a clown, “I like to be called an entertainer. The thing is when people say clown, when I think clown, I think the stupid guy with the big red shoes,” he said.
Rumford said his job is much more than just providing comic relief and is very important come bullriding time. “I'm the floating island of safety. I am the barrel in the middle of the arena to help protect the cowboys and the bullfighters. I hate when people say you’re crazy, because crazy people don't know what they're doing.”
Many may not know, but the job of a barrel man or bullfighter starts weeks before the rodeo. Rumford said they do their research. They know all the bulls drawn for the rodeo and how they behave, plus they know all about the cowboys who will be riding them. “I know which bulls are on right hand delivery which ones are on the left hand delivery, the riders who have him, if they are right handed or left handed, if the bull spins right or left. We are not just out here freelancing hoping things go good, we take a lot of precautions to make sure everyone stays safe,” he said.
When all the lights are on and the stadium is full, Rumford said the bucking bulls are not what he's worried about. “The hardest part of my job is just keeping everybody happy. Bulls don't stress me a bit you know why? Bulls are honest, people are terrible. I will deal with a bull every day of the week before people,” he said.
Rodeo Austin goes through Saturday, March 25th. Rumford will have a special performance every night.