The “Greatest Show on Dirt” is coming to Hattiesburg as the Department of Recreational Sports at The University of Southern Mississippi hosts the 28th Annual Southern Miss Coca-Cola Classic Rodeo Feb. 15-16 at the Forrest County Multipurpose Center .
Lecile Harris, six-time Pro Rodeo Clown of the Year, will once again be making an appearance at the rodeo. Harris, a 50-year rodeo veteran, works nearly 125 performances a year at the world’s biggest rodeos.
Harris entered the rodeo scene as a bullfighter in the 1950’s and 60’s and helped transform the sport from thrill show to the skillful art it is today. He has also worked on various TV shows including a regular role on “HEE HAW” and movies like “The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James” and “W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings” with Burt Reynolds.
Bob Lowe, retired director of Southern Miss Dining and Grand Marshal of the 18th Annual Southern Miss Coca-Cola Classic Rodeo considers Harris a one-of-a-kind entertainer.
“Lecile’s comedic mannerisms, acts and jokes are copied by clowns and showmen across the globe,” said Lowe. “For nearly half a century, Lecile’s bullfighting and comedic ability have saved many a cowboy and brought smiles and laughter to millions of people. He is truly one of rodeo’s legends.”
The rodeo, which began in 1986 at the Southern Miss Equestrian Center with J. Hugh Mitchell as the first grand marshal, serves as a fundraiser for student scholarships and professional development. The rodeo has been held at the Forrest County Multi-Purpose Center since its opening in 1999.
Each year at the rodeo, cowboys and cowgirls show off their elite skills in barrel racing, calf roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, team roping, and bull riding. The top riders will qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo which is held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“We are fortunate that the rodeo continues to be produced by Harper and Morgan Rodeo, the producers of the Dixie Nationals and provider of livestock to the National Finals Rodeo,” said Mark Crager, senior associate director, Southern Miss Recreational Sports. “Because of the quality and consistency of a professionally produced PRCA/WPRA rodeo, we have been able provide scholarships annually to Southern Miss students.”
Rodeo tickets are available at TJ’s Western Ware on U.S. Highway 49 in Hattiesburg. Tickets are $12 and all seats are reserved. The rodeo is also sponsored by Southern Beverage, Comcast, B-95, McMullan Motors, Polk’s Meat Products, Keith’s Super Stores, Forrest General Hospital, Hattiesburg Clinic Sports Medicine, Copy Cats Printing, The Hattiesburg American, and Southern Miss Recreational Sports.