By Frank J. Buchman
Today’s generation often don’t know definition of the word “hippy.”
For those, “hippies” were descriptive definition given members of a countercultural movement that rejected the mores of mainstream American life, during the 1960s and 1970s.
They’d typically have long hair and beards while wearing psychedelic shirts, holey jeans, sandals, and there was often a certain smoke and aromatic scent in the air.
“I guess I was behind my time. I was having an identity crisis,” reflected Wes Engelkes.
“I had long hair, wore dyed shirts and sandals when I started hanging out with some bull riders and cowboys about the time I graduated from high school in the late ’90s. It earned me the handle ‘Hippie’ among the rodeo crowd,” Engelkes said.
This Hippie (Engelkes) is now a rodeo clown in demand for his antics throughout the country. He’ll be featured rodeo clown at the 2016 Linn County Fair Rodeo in Mound City this Friday and Saturday evenings, Aug 12 and 13.
Today, the hippy attire is long gone, but the nickname stuck.
“I rode bulls for about 10 years,” Engelkes said. “Along the way, I discovered that I could get paid for ‘playing with the bulls’ and clowning around in the arena, making people laugh.
“My high school pranks that had landed me in the principal’s office evolved into a real life career,” Engelkes admitted.
Bull riding and fighting bulls no longer appeal to Engelkes.
Today, this Hippie concentrates on his comedy and working the barrel, the bull riders’ “safety island,” at more than 50 performances each year.
It is word of mouth advertisement among announcers, rodeo committeemen and fellow clowns that builds the reputation of the comedy men involved in rodeo. And, the “word” on Hippie is good, according to Linn County Fair Rodeo Chairman Charley Johnson, Prescott.
“Hippie has been on our radar screen for several years after consulting with Mound City rodeo announcer Troy Goodridge,” Johnson said. “We are excited that we could book “Hippie” Engelkes to entertain our rodeo fans.”
And, the “word” is out on the Mound City rodeo, too, Hippie Engelkes verified. “I hear that Linn County doesn’t have a stop light, but the county fair is huge and the rodeo crowd gets with it.
“That’s my kind of deal,” insisted Engelkes from his home at Steamboat Rock, Iowa, population 310. He’s the most famous and only rodeo clown living there..
“To say that I am pumped about getting to work Mound City would be an understatement,” Engelkes said.
His wife Rebekah, daughter Emma, nine, and son Wyatt, six, usually accompany Hippie to rodeos, but the family won’t all make the Mound City trip.
“We are excitedly expecting our third child, a girl, in late September, and Rebekah is staying close to home this summer,” Engelkes noted.
Rodeo fans can follow Hippie on Facebook at Hip ProRodeo.