Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bullfighters, Barrel Men, Clowns: Differences and Clearing Delusions

Survived my first outing for interviews!

I had a wonderful trip to the piney woods of east Texas, where I met up with some of the industry's finest barrel men, bullfighters, clowns, and contestants at the Jasper Lions Club Rodeo. Everyone was very welcoming and the guys definitely gave some great perspectives challenging the false impressions of their respected areas of rodeo.

Meet my first interviewees: Wacey Munsell and Aaron Ferguson-PRCA Bullfighters
Wacey resides in Ulysses, Ks and is a 3rd generation, World Champion Free Style Bull Fighter. I got a FANTASTIC interview with him, as he was able to greatly define the difference between a rodeo clown and a bullfighter. He explained that even though the bullfighters wear face paint, it is their job to be "Cowboy Life Savers" and distract the bull away from the bull rider to allow him to get to safety after the dismount of the bull. Wacey also defended the misconception that bull fighters have a bad "rap" of being involved in drugs and having lower morals and values. Wacey said that it would be physically impossible for him to preform his job, because being a bullfighter takes great physical shape to run, and have the endurance to work long rodeos. Notice Wacey's shirt: He takes pride in being a supporter of the "Tough Enough to Wear Pink" nights, and carries cowboy Christian books with him in his travels.

Aaron, the Canadian Bull Fighter, is from just south of Calgary in a town called High River, but currently resides in Ada, Oklahoma. Aaron was great to work with and was able to explain with ease the physical strength it takes to be a bull fighter. Playing hockey since he was three, Aaron explains that he does cardio and plyometrics to train his body to do his job. "The more physically fit you are, the less you are prone to injuries", he said. Furthermore, Aaron clarified that the reason bullfighters wear face paint, is a traditional thing that has carried over from the old days. He also said that the kids love it, and that they are always willing to sign autographs and spend time with the fans. Aaron proves to be a great role model and made clear that there are always a few bad apples in a bunch, but "Rodeo is just a group of GOOD people."

Introducing, The Barrel Man: Andy North

Andy lives in Piedmont, OK, where he is a PRCA bullfighter, barrel man and clown, depending on the specific rodeo. In Jasper, he served as a barrel man, where he explained that his job was to entertain the crowd in times of void, but most importantly to serve as a "safe haven" for cowboys and sometimes jump in as a third bullfighter. Andy was great to elucidate that Rodeo Cowboys lead other lives beyond the arena. He is a middle school principal in Oklahoma, as well as a part time Red Dirt Country Singer. His passion for his job and his family was incandescent as he spoke. He vividly illuminated the camaraderie and compassion the bullfighters and barrel men have for each other, and was proud to defend that the foundation sport is on a basis of good values.
Andy, allowing the bull fighter to jump the barrel to escape the bull!

Wacey diverting the bull away from the cowboy.

Thanks guys for helping me with this project! What a fun rodeo! Can't wait to get started on the videos!

Happy Trails!

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