Meet Betsy Harris, former Circuit President serving rodeo for 39 years!
It’s Women’s History Month and some women like Betsy Harris have made a positive impact on the sport of rodeo. After 39 years of service to this wonderful sport, former Circuit President Betsy Harris will still say, “Never quit. There is always an answer!” This is music to our ears!
Betsy Harris got married to her husband, Grant Harris, back in 1978. She married into a rodeo family who was heavily invested in the sport of rodeo. Grant’s mother and father ran their own rodeo for 25 years in New Jersey. In the summer of 1978, they sold the rodeo to Grant and Betsy, and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association began the circuit system. Betsy and Grant were approached to host what is now known as the First Frontier Circuit Finals Rodeo.
Betsy started as a rodeo secretary, moving to a timer, then a stock contractor and then she became the circuit treasurer. She also served as the circuit secretary before becoming the circuit president in 1997, where she served as the president for 20 years.
You can imagine what a rodeo committee member like Betsy has seen over the last 39 years. “The best thing I have seen over the years is growth. Back in 1979, we were starving for money to make our rodeo work. We were scraping to get money for a place to host the rodeo, awards, and prize money, and this was in the day when there were no sponsors. From then until today, if someone could see the differences in the caliber of rodeos we put on now compared to what we did before, it’s just phenomenal.”
Betsy sure has some good stories from over the years, including some true favorites. “About eight years ago, we put on our rodeo, and we had Keith Isley as the rodeo clown. He is typically a very big prankster with fans in the stands. However, the committee decided to play a prank on him during an actual rodeo performance. With his spontaneity, in the middle of the performance, we could tell we got him good. He knew we pranked him, but he never let the crowd in on it.” We know far too well, there were probably many more pranks pulled over the years!
There are many challenges a circuit president can face. “You consistently try to keep everyone happy; the facility staff, the committee, the contestants, your contracted personnel, and, of course, the attendees. Coordinating these pieces to make it all come to fruition is a challenge. You certainly learn to multitask.” It takes a village, and we have learned that ourselves over the years, hosting the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo!
As most of the PRCA circuit rodeo committees do, Betsy appreciates that the PRCA has worked very diligently to work with each circuit system and not lose sight of the circuit cowboy. “It means a lot when a committee like the RAM NCFR puts on a rodeo for the circuit contestants. I think Kissimmee has a wonderful facility, the caliber of livestock is great, the competition is excellent, and it’s a wonderful production.” We think Betsy shares our same sentiments!
In 2019, the RAM NCFR committee traveled to the First Frontier Circuit and had an amazing experience! Betsy and her committee were so hospitable. We learned a lot and had a great time. Part of what is so wonderful about being in the rodeo world is the relationships you get to build along the way.