Obama rodeo clown fallout: "idiot" banned from fair, Boonville looking at Superintendent's role

Aug 13, 2013

Missouri State Fair Director appeared on Intersection yesterday to talk about the rodeo incident
Credit KBIA

Updated 10:28am, 12:56pm

Missouri State Fair director Mark Wolfe says the rodeo clown responsible for the controversial act over the weekend has been banned from the fair.  The clown had donned a mask of President Obama and asked spectators if they wanted to see "Obama run down by a bull."

The Missouri State Fair commission announced the ban in a press release yesterday, which did not reveal the identity of the clown. But several news outlets have said the performer goes by the stagename of Tuffy Gessling.

In an interview on KBIA’s talk show program Intersection yesterday, Wolfe said the rodeo was run by a contractor, the Missouri Rodeo Cowboys Association, and that the stunt was not planned.

State politicians from both sides of the aisle have condemned the act. Some politicians have called for the state to re-examine its support of the state fair, some even calling for cutting funding altogether. Governor Jay Nixon addressed the issue at a press event in Cape Girardeau yesterday.

“We’re gonna have the Office of Administration look at all the contracts around this and whatnot. They’ll review what other steps might be taken to ensure not only that something like this doesn’t happen but to look at those contracts to see if there’s anything within those contracts that could, specifically, hold them accountable for these actions,” Nixon said.

 Wolfe, meanwhile, says cutting funding for the fair would be going too far.

“I don’t think punishing the overall concept of the fair and what the fair’s all about over the actions of one, I’m sorry, idiot, is the best way to address it,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe said the fair is going to consider requiring sensitivity training for all future contractors.

“State employees have to do that, I see no reason why some of our contractors may not have to follow those same guidelines. Maybe these folks need a little training about how to act out in public,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe said the state fair continues to investigate the incident and may ban more people from performing at the fair if more were involved.

Mark Ficken, the president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association says he didn't know the clown planned the stunt. Ficken was also the rodeo announcer during the event.

Today Flicken resigned as Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association president.

His attorney, Albert Watkins, said yesterday that the clown was acting unscripted and it was the clown, wearing a microphone, who made comments riling up the crowd. Watkins says Ficken's only comment was to say, "Watch out for that bull Obama!"

Ficken is also the superintendent of the Boonville R-1 School District. The Columbia Daily Tribune reports the Boonville district is also launching an investigation into the incident to see if any action needs to be taken.

Watch Mark Wolfe talk about the rodeo incident yesterday from the Missouri State Fairgrounds on the KBIA program Intersection