Rodeo group president resigns after clown's Obama skit

Aug. 13, 2013 at 7:56 PM
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SEDALIA, Mo., Aug. 13 (UPI) -- The president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association has resigned after the Missouri State Fair fired a clown for a skit "disrespectful" of President Obama.

Mark Ficken resigned Tuesday, two days after news that a rodeo clown had performed the skit Saturday, wearing an Obama mask as he taunted a bull.

The state fair commission issued a statement Sunday apologizing for the clown's performance, and then said Sunday the clown has been banned for life from performing at the taxpayer-funded Missouri State Fair in Sedalia.

Ficken, who is also superintendent of the Boonville School District and was the public address announcer at Saturday's event, has disputed media reports he was delivering lines that fair officials, in an online post, said were "inappropriate and disrespectful, and [did] not reflect the opinions or standards of the Missouri State Fair."

Ficken contends he only delivered the single statement, "Watch out for that bull Obama!" as a warning to the clown that the bull was approaching.

An attorney for Ficken, Albert Watkins, told The (St. Louis) Riverfront Times his client was resigning as president because the MRCA's response to the incident was not strong enough.

"The association said that having this guy banned [from the state fair] is enough," Watkins said. "My client thinks he should be removed from the organization. ... He jeopardized the organization. ... He should be kicked out."

The newspaper said the clown, identified as Tuffy Gessling, has developed a large online following since news of the incident broke.

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