Walla Walla's JJ is 'the' National Finals Rodeo barrelman


Former area teacher of eight years JJ Harrison has made a name for himself in an entirely different arena.

The 37-year-old, is passionate about rodeo, particularly about being a barrelman, and has worked hard at the craft that combines entertainment with safety.

And, he thinks he may be the only such clown with a master’s degree.

He’s one of those guys you see distracting bucking broncs and bulls from trampling their downed riders, dressed in goofy clothes and makeup.

“I’m in the barrel, I’m scared to death just like you,” he told ClintJamesRadio in an interview online in September.

He’s so good at it, he’s now working the PRCA circuit and was selected to be “the” barrelman at the 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nev.

The Okanogan, Wash., native lives in Walla Walla with wife Melissa and 4-year-old son Huck.

JJ will be in all 10 rounds of the action Dec. 6-15 on the Great American Country Channel on Charter TV Channel 156; Channel 165 on DISH Network; or Channel 326 on DIRECTV, Melissa said.

The NFR barrelman is voted in by all eligible announcers and bullfighters who have participated in at least eight PRCA-approved rodeos with a minimum of 20 total performances.

An Aug. 6, 2010, article in The Daily News in Longview, Wash., reported that as a full-time rodeo clown in 2010, he earned $1,000-$1,700 for each of the 60 or shows he performs annually across the West and Midwest. He works as a college recruiter in the offseason.

A self-professed attention lover, he’s jazzed by crowd involvement. “Any entertainer needs to have the ability to react to the crowd’s energy,” he told The Daily News. “Timing is everything in this gig.”

He fills down-time during shows by dressing up, dancing and poking fun at fellow rodeo workers and by steering bulls away from fallen riders.

Members of the local American Association of Women in Community Colleges affiliation are teaming with a Christian Aid Center Coat Drive to put a winter coat in the hands of each child in need at Blue Ridge Elementary School, said Kim Cassetto, WWCC high school programs director and AAWCC member.

Blue Ridge needs coats for third- through fifth-graders in sizes 8-14.

“Please consider donating a gently used or brand-new children’s coat and deliver it before Thanksgiving to the WWCC information desk or Kim’s office, No. 15D, on the ground floor in the main building, 500 Tausick Way, or Christian Aid Center, 202 W. Birch St.

For more details, contact Kim at 527-4687 or kim.cassetto@wwcc.edu

Although it sounds as if it’s an opportunity to pepper holes in piles of bacon and cheese, the Walla Walla Gun Club’s annual Bacon and Cheese shoot means you can win those edibles.

The event will be 9 a.m. Saturday at the gun club, 1212 Middle Waitsburg Road. Prizes are Hill’s Meat smoked bacon and Tillamook cheddar cheese, “just what you need for a dynamite grilled cheese sandwich on a cool autumn afternoon,” according to a release from Bob Bloch.

The $30 cards allow for six shoots, Bob said. For more details, call him at 541-969-7913.

Catholic Daughters of Walla Walla will host a charity auction at 6 p.m. and a dinner at 7 p.m. on Nov. 3 in St. Patrick Catholic Church’s Blanchet Hall, 425 W. Alder St.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go to local charities. Tickets are $30 at the door. Caterer Kenny Beck will offer a choice of prime rib or salmon for the main course. Reservations may be made by calling Mary Kincheloe at 529-9798.

Walla Walla High School freshman Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadet Pvt. 1st Class Micah Gordon garnered Blue Devil Cadet Battalion’s “Cadet of the Month” for September.

He received an immediate promotion to his new rank after he won the top spot with a average score of 70 points, according to the president of the board.

First runner up was Cadet Pvt. Hunter Lynn and second runner up was cadet Pvt. Alexis Nordman, both freshmen.

The cadets were inspected and examined in oral interviews by a board of four advanced cadets, said Lt. Col. Bill Bialozor, senior JROTC Army instructor, in the online Walla Walla Public Schools Week in Review.

Micah joined JROTC to increase his understanding of the military and chances of acceptance into the U.S. Air Force academy.

He plans to become an Air Force officer after graduating from the academy. He enjoys flying, running and playing video games.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.


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