The “Greatest Show on Dirt” returns to Hattiesburg Feb. 14-15 for the 35th Annual Southern Miss Coca-Cola Classic Rodeo. The Department of Campus Recreation at The University of Southern Mississippi will host the event at the Forrest County Multi-Purpose Center. The rodeo will start at 7:30 p.m. with doors opening at 6 p.m.
Lecile Harris, four-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 many enjoy 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 a former Grand Marshal of the rodeo, said, “Lecile’s comedic mannerisms, acts and jokes are copied by clowns and showmen across the globe. 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.”
Additional entertainment will be provided by trick rider Dusti Dickerson. Lifelong Hattiesburg resident Mike Essary, Vice President and Pine Belt Operations Manager for Neel-Schaffer, will serve as the rodeo grand marshal.
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 are eligible to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, which is held in Las Vegas, Nev.
“We are fortunate that the rodeo continues to be produced by Harper-Morgan Rodeo Company, the producers of the Dixie National Rodeo. Because of the quality and consistency of a professionally produced PRCA/WPRA rodeo, we have been able provide scholarships annually to Southern Miss students,” said Mark Crager, director of Southern Miss Campus Recreation.
Tickets are on sale at Boot Country on U.S. Highway 49 and Hub City West Farm and Garden on U.S. Pioneer Road in Hattiesburg. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 after Feb. 13. All seats are reserved and have chair backs.
The rodeo is also sponsored by Southern Beverage, Comcast, B-95, Pine Belt Motors, Keith’s Super Stores, Hattiesburg Clinic Sports Medicine, Forrest General Hospital, Copy Cats Printing, The Hattiesburg American, Neel-Schaffer, Service Master, Papa John’s, Eagle Dining, Southern Miss Campus Recreation, and F45 Fitness Studio.