ST. GEORGE – He’s the man behind the makeup. Randee Munns has been clowning it up in the rodeo arena for more than 30 years. Munns will be center arena once again this week for the 81st Dixie Roundup. The rodeo veteran will entertain the Roundup crowd with gags, pitfalls and his trademark slapstick routine.
His nimble moves and sly humor were born in the days when a rodeo clown did double-duty during the event.
“Forty years ago when I started, most of the contractors hired one guy, and you were the bullfighter. You were the clown. You were the barrel man. You done the whole thing,” he said.
During the 1990s the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association transitioned to a requirement for two bullfighters during a rodeo.
“So what happened is we have a whole new era of kids who come along,” Munns said, “that are just bullfighters and never be the clown.”
That gave him plenty of time to perfect the goofiness his act is known for. Assisted by professional clown dogs, Mini-Man and Chip the Lion, Munns will debut new routines and introduce his longtime fans to a new character or two, including Captain Clucker the giant chicken.
“I get down inside of it and ride it around,” he said. “I don’t think anybody’s tough enough to do it but me.”
While his act may inspire more than a few groans from fans, Munns takes his role as rodeo ambassador seriously. He and other Roundup stars will tour area schools this week to teach the kids a thing or two about the great sport of rodeo.
“We talk about the rodeo, the education, the humane treatment of our animals, the cowboys, the sport in itself and then we talk about doing something with your life that you really enjoy doing,” he said. “Get an education. Learn how to read. Set some goals and accomplish them goals so when you grow up you do something with your life that you enjoy doing, and that’s basically what I’ve done with my life.”
The Dixie Roundup is special to Munns who first stepped into the Sunbowl as a bullrider in 1966.
“It’s the setting,” he said. “It’s the Sunbowl that makes this rodeo.”
The college welding teacher and former Utah state high school bullriding champ has no plans to retire. He’s more than at home in a rodeo arena.
“I’m infatuated by the game of rodeo and have been forever and always will be,” he said. “There’s something, just when that horse bucks out there and jumps. It just makes your motor run.”
Although most Americans have left the rural lifestyle behind, rodeo continues to grow in popularity. Munns may know why.
“There’s a little bit of cowboy in everybody,” he said.
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