By Judy Wade
John Farris is a name known and respected by rodeo contestants and fans across the country. Farris worked every National Finals Rodeo in one capacity or another from 1967 to 2013.
He staked the barrel pattern for every one of those years, worked as the NFR saddle horse boss for two years, served as the assistant rough stock event chute boss for one year and as the timed-event chute boss for 17 years.
He worked the Fort Worth Rodeo for 25 years and the Texas Circuit Finals 20 years and has been chute boss for the Prairie Circuit Finals for four years, a position he still holds today. He also worked the Clay County Pioneer Reunion Rodeo in Henrietta, Texas, for many years. “My favorite rodeo would have to be Fort Worth because we got to stay in one place for two weeks, not having to move around,” Farris explained.
A PRCA member since 1959, he competed in bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, tie-down calf roping and occasionally steer wrestling until age 44, although he continued calf roping for several more years.
Born in Iowa Park in 1928 to B.A. and Eva Farris, he had two brothers and three sisters. “Sometimes our neighbor’s cows would get over on us, and my brother and I would ride them. All I ever wanted to be was a cowboy,” he said. “I entered the bull riding at my first rodeo at Jacksboro, when I was 16. I got a broken ankle and a fat lip that I still have today, but that didn’t stop me,” Farris laughed.
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