Where Laugh-Getters & Cowboy Savers Relive the Past
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.
When I wrote the book on their history, “Fearless Funnymen, The History of the Rodeo Clown”, I attended the 6thRodeo Clown Reunion that was held in Roseburg, Oregon. Karl Doering, a retired rodeo clown, had started the gathering in 1974 at Roseburg, during the Umpqua Valley Rodeo, and it was held there every three years. Retired laugh-getters, bullfighters and barrelmen came from all parts of the country and spent 3 or 4 days with rodeo fans, members of the Roseburg community and were wined and dined as well as participating in the rodeo and their annual parade. Unfortunately, Karl passed away, and various ones kept it going. The year I attended was the last year it was held at Roseburg.
Jack Saulls, a PRCA Columbia Circuit committeeman, held it in Moses Lake, WA, in 1992, with the same agenda. I also attended this Reunion. The numbers were dwindling and a meeting of the honorees decided to let go of it in the northwest. They suggested some of the attendees from the middle of the country should see if they could have one near the center of the U.S. I volunteered to help and we chose Guthrie, Oklahoma and the ‘89er Days Rodeo held at the Lazy E Arena in 1993. By the time it was held I realized I was ramrodding the affair, and having a heck of a good time doing it. Since then, I have been the chairman of 15 total Rodeo Clown Reunions held twice in Colorado Springs during the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo;
Rodeo de Santa Fe three times, Deadwood Days of ’76 twice, and one year at rodeos at Springdale, AR; Stephenville, TX; Pendleton RoundUp; Sheridan, WY; Dodge City, KS; Coffeyville, KS and during the Day of the Cowboy weekend 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 today. Greg Doering the son of Karl (deceased), has attended each reunion since it’s inception. Other 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 due, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.