Missouri State Fair apologizes for Obama-mocking performance

SEDALIA, Mo. - Missouri State Fair officials issued an apology Sunday after a performance in the rodeo Saturday night caused an uproar.

A clown wearing a President Barack Obama mask appeared at a rodeo and the announcer asked spectators if they wanted to see "Obama run down by a bull."

According to a post on the liberal blog Show Me Progress, the announcer asked the crowd if it wanted to see Obama run down by a bull while another clown bobbed the lips on the Obama mask. A bull then charged toward the clown, forcing him to run away while the crowd cheered.

"The performance by one of the rodeo clowns at Saturday's event was inappropriate and disrespectful, and does not reflect the opinions or standards of the Missouri State Fair," said state fair spokeswoman Keri Mergen. "We strive to be a family friendly event and regret that Saturday's rodeo badly missed that mark."

Sunday night, the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association issued an apology for the "inappropriate act."

The statement reads:

"The MRCA Board of Directors and over 600 members do not condone nor approve of this sort of activity. The MRCA Board of Directors is dealing with the situation firmly and quickly as this type of behavior will not be tolerated. The Sport of Rodeo is not meant to be a political platform. We are taking measures by training and educating our contract acts to prevent anything like this from ever happening again. All Members of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association are very proud of our Country and our President."

The president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association says he didn't know that the clown planned the act that critics on both sides of the political aisle have deemed disrespectful to the president.

Mark Ficken is the rodeo association's president and was the rodeo announcer. He is also listed as the superintendent of the Boonville R-1 School District.

His attorney, Albert S. Watkins, said Monday 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!"

Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican, wrote on Twitter that he condemns the disrespectful actions and that he hopes Gov. Jay Nixon will hold someone accountable.

"I condemn the actions disrespectful to [the President of the United States] the other night. We are better than this," Kinder said.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, emailed a statement condemning the performance and calling on someone to be held accountable.

"The State Fair is funded by taxpayer dollars, and is supposed to be a place where we can all bring our families and celebrate the state that we love," McCaskill said. "The young Missourians who witnessed this stunt learned exactly the wrong lesson about political discourse—that somehow it's ever acceptable to, in a public event, disrespect, taunt, and joke about harming the president of our great nation. Missouri is better than this, and I expect someone to be held accountable."

Republican Mo. State Rep. Caleb Rowden, whose district includes parts of Boone and Randolph counties, also took to Twitter to condemn the performance.

"I don't agree with this [President] on many things," Rowden wrote. "But he is deserving of respect and shouldn't be the object of political stunts. Out of line!"

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