Rodeo Clown Reunion

by Gail Woerner

Where Laugh-Getters & Cowboy Savers Relive the Past

The ProRodeo Hall of Fame and the Douglas County Fair & Rodeo is the destination for the 23rd Rodeo Clown Reunion.  It is  a time for retired bullfighters, funnymen and barrelmen to gather and reminisce, don their only familiar baggy britches and personal make-up, and spend time doing what they did “back in the good old days”.  They sign autographs, perform old acts and kibbitz with the fans.  When they have a few minutes to catch their breath in between gigs, they visit with other honorees and tell stories of earlier arena days and things that happened they well remember and other rodeo clowns who are no longer with us.

The purpose of the Rodeo Clown Reunion is to show these seniors that we are grateful for what they did in the rodeo arena entertaining the audience and saving the bull riders from serious harm and more.  Their abilities to promote a rodeo and put a smile on the spectators faces is so important to the success of an event and we are grateful for their years in this profession and their willingness to entertain.

On August 6th, the honorees will be at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame with programs, acts, and autographs.  It will be a day which anyone can spend with these characters and cowboy heroes, asking questions and learning about the life of a rodeo clown.  How did they happen to choose this profession?  How dangerous is it to stand in front of a raging bull and keep the bull riders from harm?  Is the barrel really a safe haven when a bull is charging?

August 7th and 8th the honorees will be in Castle Rock at the Douglas County Fair & Rodeo assisting in many annual venues including the mutton busting, and autographing and performing in their rodeos at 7 PM on Saturday, and 1 PM on Sunday.

Since the original 1974 Rodeo Clown Reunion that was held in Roseburg, Oregon, during the Umpqua Valley Rodeo, the Reunion was held there four more years, then in 1991 it was held in Moses Lake, WA.  Since that time it had been held in a variety of locales, more centrally located, in conjunction with PRCA rodeos.  The 1993 Rodeo Clown Reunion was held in Guthrie, OK;  then  in Colorado  Springs, 1995 & 2000 during the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo;

Rodeo de Santa Fe was our destination three times, 1997, 2011 & 2017; Deadwood Days of ’76  in 2002 & 2009; and once at rodeos at Springdale, AR, 1999; Stephenville, TX, 2004; Pendleton RoundUp, 2006; Sheridan, WY, 2012; Dodge City, KS, 2008;  Coffeyville, KS, 2015; and during the Day of the Cowboy weekend, 2018, at the Stockyards at Fort Worth.

During the years the Reunion has been held we adjust the events, other than the rodeo, to suit the area.  At Deadwood we traveled to Mount Rushmore and Chief Crazy Horse Monuments in addition to the rodeo.  In Guthrie, OK we toured the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and had a Clown-Mule Race at Remington Park, the local pari-mutual horse track in Oklahoma City.  At Moses Lake we traveled to the Grand Coulee Dam by bus.  At Dodge City we caravanned to the town of Greensburg, that had just been totally demolished by a tornado, with a pickup full of books the honorees had gathered together to help start a new library for the ravaged community.

We have second generation rodeo clowns attending this year.  Greg Doering,  the son of Karl (deceased), has attended each reunion since it’s inception.  Other multi-generational families attending are:  Jerry Wayne Olson, a third generation rodeo clown, who followed in the footsteps of his deceased dad, Jerry, and grandfather, LaRue Olson.  Other two-generation honorees are: Don Bowman and his twin step-sons Dan & Pat Ariaz;  Melvin Fields and son Devlin,  and  John Clark and son, Kelly.   Dixie Reger Mosley, the only woman rodeo clown who clowned for 12 years and was also a charter member of the Girls Rodeo Association.  So far, forty-four rodeo clowns have registered from 17 states and Canada.  Their accumulated years in the rodeo arena as a funnyman, bullfighter or barrelman add up to 939 years.

Every honoree’s story is different in some way.  A few retired after 5 decades in the arena.  Others retired earlier, some due to injury and others had a variety of reasons for moving on.  Some concentrated on being funny and fighting bulls.  Others were more inclined to fight bulls while others got their adrenalin rush by hearing the audience laugh.  Regardless of how they spent their years in the arena the one common denominator is they have all continued to keep their sense of humor.

Come join us, you’ll be glad you did.  For more information regarding the upcoming Rodeo Clown Reunion contact me at email:  rodeogal@airmail.net.

 

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