The Story Behind the Clowns

By Samantha Scheltema

They’re foolish, sometimes stupid and you really don’t want to take them seriously.

During the Spartan Stampede, the announcer and barrel clowns have banter back and forth to keep people who may be bored entertained. There are also a couple intermissions where the clowns put on shows, like the video below where they were showing “fireworks” and failing at making it detonate. I jumped when the thing finally blew up which is why the video goes crazy.

Sorry about the bad quality of the video. I was using my dad’s camera which is very old.

The clowns are not only there for entertainment; in fact their primary purpose is to help protect the cowboys who may be in the line of danger of a bull after riding them. Bullfighters and barrel clowns are the first line of defense for the bull rider. They are athletes who distract the bull when the cowboy needs to escape. Bulls are obviously very dangerous so it’s important to have bullfighters and barrel clowns there to help out.

Other people of the arena are pick-up men and the announcer. The pick-up men assist with the saddle bronc and bareback riders in dismounting after their rides. If the cowboy completes the ride, the horse is still bucking and so the pick-up men run alongside the cowboy and get him to the ground safely. The announcer is there to explain what is going on, give times and updates on the competitions going on.

The clowns were definitely entertaining and helped keep things moving. It was nice to have an announcer there to explain what was going on to those who really haven’t been to a rodeo before (like me). It was all a new experience and it showed how much work people put into the rodeo and the work the competitors put in for training.

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