SEDALIA, Mo. - Controversy over a rodeo clown who mocked President Barack Obama did not keepi Gov. Jay Nixon away from the annual governor's ham breakfast at the Missouri State Fair on Thursday.
Numerous executive officials and lawmakers attended the annual event at the fairgrounds in Sedalia.
However, this year the breakfast was surrounded by controversy. Earlier this week, many Missouri officials denounced a rodeo skit in which a clown wore a President Barack Obama mask while another riled the crowd with statements suggesting the president could be run down by a bull.
Some lawmakers wanted the governor's annual breakfast canceled to show the state of Missouri does not support incidents of such nature.
However, Nixon and more than 1,000 people attended.
Nixon made remarks concerning Saturday's incident at the beginning of his speech at the breakfast. He said it was "inappropriate and offensive," but that one incident was not going to ruin the great things the State Fair brings to Missouri.
"The bottom line is that one action like this is not going to in any way slow down the strong progress and the vital importance that this showcase is for agriculture and especially would send the wrong signal to young folks," said Nixon.
The ham breakfast is only part of the allure. The event also offers the opportunity for politicians to shake hands with hundreds of rural Missourians in an informal atmosphere.
More than 800 youths exhibit at the fair, and this year the livestock numbers were up by 300.
"I think this is about what we are doing in agriculture. We are here to talk about agriculture and support the kids. That is our mission. The rest of the things we do is entertainment," says Mark Wolfe, director of the Missouri State Fair.
"Let us take a moment to reconnect to all those values that we share and try to instill in our kids: Respect, fair play, and patriotism," Nixon said. "That is what this State Fair is really all about."
The ham breakfast was a step back in that direction. The fair gave out awards, auctioned off the winning ham and showcased young talent.
Some Democratic legislators have suggested that Missouri stop spending tax dollars on the fair. Nixon reassured the crowd that despite the controversy of cutting funds for the State Fair, that will not happen.