By Frank J. Buchman
“The classroom clown is a top candidate to be a rodeo clown.”
That’s been the case before, and it was sure the deal for Colton Stueve.
“I was on the rodeo team at Fort Hays State, when the clown didn’t show up for a rodeo. My coach Bronc Rumford knew I was always clowning around, and asked me to do the job,” the lifelong cowboy reflected.
“I said sure, I’ll give it a try. I was nervous, but I really loved it,” Stueve affirmed.
So, did the rodeo crowd, and the rodeo contractors and committees.
Grease paint, baggy suspendered jeans, flashy shirt, floppy hat accompanying that instinctive jousting made a cowboy into a funnyman in demand.
“It’s been great. I continue to contract more rodeos all of the time,” assured the cowboy-clown, who works for the Highland Ranch at Matfield Green in Chase County.
“My nerves are becoming more relaxed too. Learning as I go, how to work the crowd, jive with the announcer and to assist everybody involved in the rodeo production,” Stueve continued.
Rodeo enthusiasts will have an opportunity to see Clown Stueve in action with his entertaining antics, tales, gimmicks and more during the seventh annual Flint Hills Blowout Saturday evening, Sept. 10, at Strong City.
“We’ve known Colton for a long time, and are especially happy to have a popular Chase County cowboy turned rodeo clown-funnyman as part of our big show,” expressed Kim Reyer, who with his family has coordinated the bull riding competition.
From a family of winning rodeo contestants, Stueve has competed in a number of contest events, now specializing in team roping, mostly as a header.
“I competed in the Kansas High School Rodeo Association four years, almost made it to the National High School Finals with my cousin heeling one year. Not quite,” Stueve said.
However, roping abilities earned Stueve a scholarship and position on the Fort Hays team for National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association events in the Central Plains Region. “We won and placed in a number of the college rodeos,” the roper verified.
“I’ve always competed in jackpot team roping events around the area,” Stueve reflected. “Now, since graduating from college, we’ve been going to more amateur rodeos including a couple of associations.”
At 5-foot-7, weighing 155-pounds “soaking wet,” the cowboy-clown admits being “pretty athletic,” excelling in other sports along with rodeo during youthful days.
That’s an attribute when it comes to being in the arena during rodeo action. “I try to help out every way I can. I’ve dived into save a couple of cowboys from bulls when they got bucked off,” Stueve admitted.
“Now, I let the bullfighters do their job, and I tell the jokes. That’s a lot easier for me,” the clown verified.
“The main act I have right now is a cannon I built that supposedly shoots pancakes,” Stueve said. “I load all the ingredients in, and then light the cannon to shoot ready-made pancakes into the crowd. Nothing can go wrong there, huh?”
He also typically does a few small acts that involve some crowd participation and a “lot of dancing.”
A clown barrel has been borrowed and part of his act in several performances. “I’m having a barrel built of my own. I’m really anxious to be able to use it during the bull riding,” Stueve said.
Just a natural at funny things, the clown’s banter depends on the crowd. “It requires more study and preparedness than one might think. Rodeo crowds are different, depending on the day, the announcer, the livestock, a lot of things come into being a clown that I didn’t realize,” he contended.
Booking events throughout the Midwest, Stueve has worked a number of rodeos for the Greenleaf brothers of the Medicine River Rodeo Company at Greensburg.
“Mike and Patrick Greenleaf have really been helpful for me getting started as a rodeo clown-funnyman, giving me the opportunity to work their rodeos, and recommending me to committees,” Stueve appreciated.
“One of the best things about being a rodeo clown is that there’s a check when I get done. I don’t always know that when I’m entered in the team roping,” Stueve insisted.
However, an additional benefit of being a contract performer, the roper-clown can often do both of his professions, rope and clown at the same rodeo.
“As reminder, the Flint Hills Bull Blowout official, Kim Reyer said, “The competition is at the famed Flint Hills Rodeo Arena right on Highway 50 across from our Reyer’s Country Store.”
The Chase County High School Booster Club will host a barbecue at 6 o’clock, mutton busting for kids is at 6:30, the competition featuring New Frontier Rodeo Company bulls gets underway at 7 o’clock, and a chicken scramble for youth 10 and under is set during intermission.