Announcer Mark Ficken said through an attorney that the clown was wearing a live microphone and had given the announcer no advance notice about the skit. Ficken is president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association and also is superintendent of the Boonville School District.
“He was as surprised as anyone with the appearance of an Obama-masked rodeo clown,” said Ficken’s attorney, Albert Watkins of St. Louis.
Watkins said Ficken’s only comment during the event was to say, “Watch out for that bull Obama!” Watkins said that was meant as a warning for the clown’s safety.
Fair Marketing Director Tammie Nichols said the rodeo clown was hired by Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association and that fair officials did not know he was going to mock Obama.
“We’ve worked with this company for many, many, many years. We have a longstanding history with them and never had any trouble,” Nichols said.
The association did not respond to an email request for an interview Monday and had removed the names of its officers from its website. A statement on the site said the association’s directors are “dealing with the situation firmly and quickly as this type of behavior will not be tolerated. ”
Most of the Missouri State Fair’s roughly $4.5 million budget comes from fees charged to attendees and vendors, but it receives about $558,000 from tax revenues, according to the state budget office.
Missouri House Democrats have suggested the Republican-led chamber should form a special committee to investigate the incident and determine whether to continue providing tax dollars to the fair.
State Rep. Steve Webb, chairman of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus, said Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon should cancel the governor’s annual ham breakfast scheduled for Thursday at the fairgrounds. But Nixon spokesman Scott Holste said the governor did not plan to cancel the breakfast because of the “deplorable actions that took place during this one event.”