By Frank J. Buchman
Rodeo typically means outstanding cowboys and cowgirls competing with and against superior rodeo livestock.
Yet, others, perhaps the younger set, yet more mature as well, think first and foremost of the “clowns at the rodeo.”
As often as not, those reflecting “how the rodeo was” will exclaim about the clowns before the contestants, the horses and the cattle.
So, when committeemen were coordinating contracts for rodeos in the Eastern Kansas Pro Rodeos Series, clowns ranked high on agenda.
That’s according to John Teagarden, LaCygne, who developed the rodeo series to encourage contestant participation and spectator attendance.
Three leading professional rodeo clowns will converge on the Eastern Kansas Pro Rodeo Series nine-days August 11-19, Teagarden said.
Stops include the Linn County Fair Rodeo, Mound City, August 11-12; Inter-State Fair & Rodeo, Coffeyville, August 16-19: and Eureka Pro Rodeo, Eureka, August 18-19.
“The lineup features a highly decorated arena funnyman, a Marine Corps veteran, and an ‘up and comer’ impressing rodeo insiders,” Teagarden said.
Linn County Fair Rodeo spectators will meet the “rookie” of the bunch, Matt Tarr, 33, Cody, Wyoming. The four-year Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) member brings a lot of “rodeo savvy” to the arena.
“I started working at the Cody Night Rodeo as a teenager feeding livestock, preparing the arena, cleaning the stands, and selling tickets downtown during the day,” Tarr said.
Cody, Wyoming, near the east gate to Yellowstone National Park, is a historic Western town hosting 90 rodeo performances during the summer.
“After a few years, I was promoted to bullfighter,” Tarr reflected. “One night the rodeo producer handed me the portable microphone and said ‘you are the funnyman.’ I found my calling.”
Teagarden admitted, “Matt Tarr’s rodeo credits are still slim, but we have been hearing his name from announcers and other rodeo affiliates, ‘people who are in the know,’ for a couple of years.
“We are excited to introduce Matt Tarr to our Mound City spectators,” Teagarden said.
Inter-State Fair & Rodeo at Coffeyville rodeo will welcome Johnny “Backflip” Dudley, 39, Aubrey, Texas, to the arena August 16-19.
Previously serving eight years in the Marine Corps, the now 13-year PRCA member has a business degree from the University of Houston “in case I have to get a real job,” Dudley claimed.
Dudley’s rodeo credits include entertaining four times at the Turquoise Rodeo Circuit Finals and four times at the All-American Rodeo Finals.
“Backflip’s acts include Cow Patty, Exploding Limousine and Mailman Skunk,” Teagarden related.
Eureka Pro Rodeo, August 18-19, will highlight the “dean of the clowns,” known simply as “Gizmo” by thousands of rodeo fans, Dale McCracken, 56, of Fairview, Missouri.
With 25 years of arena experience behind his grease paint, Gizmo has an extensive “clown” resume.
Highlights include specialty act at the2005 National Finals Rodeo, nominated five times for the PRCA Comedy Act of the Year and featured act 19-times at various Pro Rodeo Circuit Finals.
“An accomplished singer, Gizmo may break out an appropriate chorus at any point during a performance,” Teagarden said.
Acts which McCracken will present at Eureka include Dr. Giz Ambulance, Gizmo’s Shrinking Machine and the Chicken Rocket.