The first event was actually held on Saturday before the rodeo. It was a rodeo for mentally challenged people, but true to form, one of our honorees, Curtis Lambert, went early to participate, as did Ronald Burton, the barrelman hired for Rodeo de Santa Fe , plus the rodeo committee. Curtis got a friend of his, Carson Blair, to dress in an extra pair of baggy britches and painted his face. A good time was had by all.
On Monday night others started pulling in at the Inn at Santa Fe (every honoree is eager to get there). We attended the Rodeo de Santa Fe Press Party which was held in the VIP tent at the arena. Good food, good people, and the weather was perfect.
Tuesday was ‘work day’. I drove to Albuquerque to be on a TV program to promote the rodeo and the Rodeo Clown Reunion. Afterwards some of us spent the day putting together the Registration Bags for each honoree, and this was a chore since we had 26 different items to go in the bag. Our sponsors are so good to us. This year each honoree returned home with a new Wrangler denim jacket, plus a gift certificate for a new pair of Wrangler jeans, a hooded NFR sweatshirt from last year, Pendleton Whisky, Two Bull Sports Rub, plus all the great western oriented magazines, and much more! That evening we registered those that were already checked in, and continued all the next day.
Our famous “Rodeo Clown Reunion Outhouse” which is covered with cartoons from the very best western cartoonists in the business sat outside the entrance to the Inn at Santa Fe. It was quite an attention-getter.
Wednesday morning a dozen honorees put on their ‘garb and make-up’ and went to the Big R Store to entertain their customers and kibbitz with everyone. That evening around 5 PM we all went to the rodeo arena, and half the honorees signed their names at the Autograph table and visited with fans as they came through the entrance. The other half ate the tasty meal served them in the VIP tent, then they relieved those at the Autograph table so they could eat. After the Grand Entry the announcer introduced each honoree as he walked into the arena, tipped his hat, dropped his drawers, or waved to the fans. Later in the program several of the honorees performed the ‘Hat Cleaning Act’ manned by Jim Hill and ‘friends’ which has been a laugh-getting old-time act for years.
Thursday morning the Honorees were requested to be at the arena at 7 AM for a television presentation. The turn-out was good, but the spot was about 2 minutes long and the interviewer really didn’t talk with any of the honorees that had gotten up early and put on all the garb for this. I was very disappointed in the lack of thought that went in to this request of the honorees! At 11 o’clock another dozen honorees went to Boot Barn, another sponsor, to visit and have fun (in costume of course). Meanwhile back at Inn at Santa Fe the wives, girl friends, and lady friends were entertained at a Luncheon, with special guest, Karen (Mrs. Harry) Vold. After everyone introduced themselves and told some interesting stories about their ‘honoree’, and the delicious lunch, we drew names for gifts that were given to each attending significant other.
Again at 5 we trekked to the rodeo arena and watched and inter-acted for the second performance of the Rodeo de Santa. A second act was performed by Melvin Fields and ‘friends’ called the “Shooting Act”. (I can’t describe it, you had to be there to see it)
Friday morning the Honorees continued to visit through breakfast, in front of the Inn, and more. Some took off to see the sights. At 1 PM Rocki Gorman held a Reception for the Honorees and their wives. Rocki has a great Boutique on the corner of Old Santa Fe Trail and Water Street, and had enchiladas, wonderful desserts, chips & salsa, and refreshing drinks for all. Additionally as the wives ++ entered her store a basket of bracelets was placed in front of them so they could choose the color they wanted! Rocki also gave all the ladies a 15% discount on any purchases. Meanwhile the honorees were visiting people on the street in front of the store, or munching on tasty fare in her small lanai, next to the store. Again, a good time was had by all.
The group photograph was scheduled for 5 PM in front of the bucking chutes and I must admit the Honorees are very prompt. This was also Tough Enough to Wear Pink night at the rodeo so all were dressed appropriately. William Kierce Photography was our photo taker, and the 8 x 10” photo was delivered to us the following day. Afterwards, some went to Autograph, or go in to the grandstand and visit with fans, while others had dinner, then everyone switched. The old-time act was “The Bucket Act” ramrodded by Curtis Lambert and ‘friends’ (you had to be there to see it).
Saturday was our last day, and the morning was totally free for whatever the Honorees and families wanted to do. Lunches at special restaurants, shopping downtown or just basking in the glorious sunshin-y morning of Santa Fe. At 2 PM we all gathered in to the room the Inn provided us for the Honoree Drawing. Our sponsors are so gracious to give us donated products that are divided up, and every Honoree’s name is in a basket. The first 6 names that were drawn won a custom-made buckle with Rodeo Clown Reunion, Rodeo de Santa Fe, 2017 on it that was donated by the best buckle-makers in the country. I can’t tell you how outstanding all six buckles were, and we appreciate each and every one of them! Every Honoree was given some gift. We also honor an Honoree that does above and beyond what is expected of them with the Monk Carden Memorial Award and this Reunion’s recipient was Marvin Klein of Solon, North Dakota.
The Honorees don’t just come to these Reunions expecting to receive and not give. At the end of the Drawing, they surprised me (for my birthday a few days later) with a beautiful Santa Fe silver necklace, funny funny card (what did you expect, their rodeo clowns?) and a beautifully decorated rodeo clown birthday cake. (How lucky can one old gal be?)
At 5 o’clock we all went back to the rodeo arena and autographed, had dinner, Honorees were introduced individually, and the old-time act was done by Jess Franks – he uses kids from the audience and it is hilarious! (You had to be there to see it.) There was also a special presentation of the Andy Womack Memorial Award that Karen Vold always presents when our Reunion is being held at a PRCA rodeo where the Vold Rodeo Company is supplying the stock. Andy Womack was Karen’s father and he was an early day rodeo clown that was very particular about entertaining and doing the very best he could do as a rodeo clown. Karen presented the plaque to Jess Franks, who not only was an Honoree, but a hard-working member of the Rodeo de Santa Fe rodeo committee, and worked for the Reunion as well as Rodeo de Santa Fe for the past year. Hat’s off to Jess!
And thanks to Karen for thinking enough of the Rodeo Clown Reunion to give this important award.
The following day everyone drug their heels and tried to keep from leaving as long as possible, but good-byes were said, and everyone had a distance to travel, or a plane to catch, and return to their homes in 19 different states from New York, Florida, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Montana, North Dakota, just to name a few that came from far away.
We don’t know where we’ll have the next Reunion or when, but we know there will be as many returning as possibly can. There is no question about having a laugh-filled good time at a Rodeo Clown Reunion, including the fans at the rodeo, the people of the community, and the Honorees and their families, and quite a number of friends of the Rodeo Clown Reunion that come regardless of where it is held. We hope you can join us at the next one. Anyone interested in information at having a Reunion please contact Chairman, Gail Woerner, at 512-426-8668 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.