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Missouri State Fair Controversy: Mark Ficken Resigns As Rodeo Cowboy Association President

obama-clown-1.jpg
Courtesy of Perry Beam
Rodeo clown with Obama mask.
Mark Ficken, the announcer caught up in the Missouri State Fair Obama clown scandal this week, has resigned as president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association.

After news broke on Sunday about a rodeo clown in an Obama mask participating in a skit featuring a bull chasing the president, Ficken, an announcer at the fair, hired an attorney and argued that media reports were inaccurately attributing controversial comments to him.

Now, Ficken has decided to step down as president of the association, which puts on the rodeo show at the state fair, a taxpayer-funded event in Sedalia. His attorney tells us that he disagrees with how the association has responded to the criticisms.

See also:
- Mark Ficken, State Fair Announcer in Obama Rodeo Scandal, Says Reports Are Wrong
- Missouri State Fair Rodeo Clown Identified, Permanently Banned From Performing
- State Fair Clown Tuffy Gessling Gets Huge Online Following After Obama Mask Stunt

Ficken is also the superintendent of the Boonville School District.

According to his attorney Albert Watkins, Ficken had no idea a rodeo clown in an Obama mask would appear on Saturday night at the fair and he said nothing other than the single statement, "Watch out for that bull Obama!"

The other statements caught on video -- from a man asking the crowd if they wanted to see Obama run down by a bull -- came directly from the "rogue rodeo clown," Watkins says.

That clown, as we've reported, goes by the name of Tuffy Gessling, and state fair officials have permanently banned him from ever performing at the fair again. (Incidentally, he now has a large online following of supporters from across the country).

tuffy-gessling-fb-image.jpg
via Facebook
Tuffy Gessling.

Gessling is, however, still a member of the rodeo cowboy association, Watkins tells us.

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

And that's why Ficken decided to step down as president, he says.

"His thought process was, the association has always been a bunch of gentlemen...committed to the sport of rodeo. It's never been a forum for political statements, never been a forum for racism," Watkins says.

Daily RFT has again reached out to the association for comment and will update if we hear back. The association issued a short apology on its website that said "this type of behavior will not be tolerated," adding, "The Sport of Rodeo is not meant to be a political platform."

It's unclear exactly how Gessling is tied to the association, but Ficken, through his attorney, is arguing that he deserved to face more serious consequences from the group. We've also reached out to Gessling once again and will update if we get a chance to speak with him.

The state fair, coordinated in part with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, has apologized in the wake of condemning statements from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. The Missouri State Fair Commission also says it is reviewing its contract with the cowboy association.

obama-mask-7.jpg
Courtesy of Perry Beam

In the meantime, Watkins says that he was successful in getting news outlets across the country to correct reports falsely attributing some of the controversial statements to his client.

"A number of the erroneous articles were taken off line and replaced with accurate ones," he says.

In case you missed it, here are two videos we uploaded with footage from an attendee of the fair outraged by the performance.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.



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45 comments
Truth700
Truth700

Its always OK until they come for you just ask the jews under Hitler in WWII. Everyone ignored what was happening as he was taking peoples rights and resources. This is much bigger than most people will understand. Hopefully we wake up before it's to late


Josie
Josie

You people who think MRCA is tax payer funded are total idiots. It is NOT! My ex hubby and a stock contractor started MRCA back in the 80's and MRCA's letter of apology is disgusting. This clown did nothing that was wrong. In '94 a dummy of Geo HW Bush was used, and in 08 a mask of Hillary was used and there was NO OUTCRY. Now that we have a HALF black/white person in the presidential office, your heads are spinning. You disgust me.

alan265
alan265

This guy was a contract act. The rodeo would not receive any direct money but would be payed by the state fair board out of proceeds from the spectators. Free speech DOES include anyone at any time or it would not be free speech but limited speech. Because he is a contract act all they can do is not hire him again which is what they did. It is a clown act for goodness sakes, some people need to get a life and guit whining like a school girl. Obama is not above being made fun of and I thought it was funny and I dont care one whit what any of you think nor do nor do I care what ODUMBO thinks. 

Rachel Davidson
Rachel Davidson

I would say yes it was and here is what I found. That rodeo was the Cowtown rodeo which is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. The PRCA is sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority which is in fact taxpayer funded.

Andrew Kamadulski
Andrew Kamadulski

Freedom of speech does not include using taxpayer money to make a political statement. The guy can say whatever he likes, he just can't use my tax money to do it.

Andrew Kamadulski
Andrew Kamadulski

Was it funded with taxpayer dollars? What rodeo was it? Show me.

Andrew Kamadulski
Andrew Kamadulski

It's not the fact that the mask exists, it's the fact that taxpayer money was used to make a political statement favoring one party.

Rachel Davidson
Rachel Davidson

We also have the right to stand up and demand our tax dollars are not wasting on frivolous lawsuits and witch hunts just to appease a small group of people who are easily offended.

warson
warson

Freedom of speech is great, but I'm not willing to support this ignorance and stupidity with my tax dollars.  SNL and tv shows are businesses that don't rely on government funding, morons.

Patrick Harris
Patrick Harris

no harm done why the fuss? Is king Obama upset .isnt he allready full of bull ?

Rachel Davidson
Rachel Davidson

Stephen, do you want to know why you have never seen another mask of a president at a rodeo? Its because you haven't bothered looking. A simple internet search would tell you this had been done before, a dummy wearing a Bush mask was torn apart by a bull at a rodeo but not one complaint was made. This has been going on for decades but why is it now an issue? I already know the answer.

Stephen Rutherford
Stephen Rutherford

We also have the right to stand up and criticize stupid. I've never seen a Saturday Night Live skit where they advocated bodily harm of a president

Stephen Rutherford
Stephen Rutherford

I've never seen a mask of a president in a bull ring with someone asking the crowd who wants to see him get run over by a bull. One spectator said another clown ran up and tickled his lips which makes it even worse. I wouldn't condone it no matter who it was supposed to be.

Precision Auto Repair
Precision Auto Repair

ron not saying that its right but this country has been making fun of presidents as long as i can remember. democrat and republican. the media and hollywood are the worse. sat. night live has been one of the worse when it comes to making fun of presidents. i think the bigger picture is that we have the freedom to do that. people in some countries do not have that freedom and if they were to say something slightly bad about a leader they would be shot or thrown in jail.

Brent Johnstone
Brent Johnstone

I think they all should be Bitch Slapped back into reality ! This isn't a Monarchy ,we have freedom of speech . These a holes root-in after elections and tell the people they represent to kiss ass ! Tax payer will pay everything for all the elected officials for life . Grow some !

Brent Johnstone
Brent Johnstone

Good thing it wasn't SNL ,Lenno ,Letterman ,etc.. We would never see those shows again ! :P

Tim Killday
Tim Killday

So no more politics at rodeos? Got it.

Steve Froemel
Steve Froemel

As far as disrespect and ridicule are concerned, in 2007, TV newswoman Erin Burnett, who then worked for MSNBC, repeatedly referred to Bush as a “monkey” during a report on an economic summit. Burnett, who later apologized, was not banned from television; she is now a prime-time anchor on CNN....JUST STATING THE FACTS....OR don't facts apply here...looks like a lynching to me......

Rj Hub
Rj Hub

omgoodness - I have seen plenty of Bush masks, Clinton masks, and Reagan masks. . . so much hoopla over nothing. gotta get thicker skin.

Adam Woehler
Adam Woehler

Before I read I'll make a guess: he's been offered a job as a Fox News commentator.... Now to see how I did.

Steve Froemel
Steve Froemel

In fact, it was documented back in 1994 that a dummy wearing a President George H.W. Bush mask, propped up by a broomstick, was employed as a decoy during a bull riding riding contest...so why NOW such a big deal???????????????

Steve Froemel
Steve Froemel

In 1994, there was a ‘George Bush’ rodeo clown dummy.. A dummy with a George Bush mask stood beside the clown, propped up by a broomstick.Then the bull saw the George Bush dummy. He tore into it, sending the rubber mask flying halfway across the sand as he turned toward the fence, sending cowboys scrambling up the fence rails, hooking one with his horn and tossing him off the fence

Ron Lane
Ron Lane

At least, he has class, while the rest of the association feels as it has done nothing wrong. The fact they feel that way is where the big problem is.

Rachel Davidson
Rachel Davidson

Probably for the best, they need to get someone with a backbone and a pair to stand up to all the crybabies and not apologize to folks that get easily offended.

Derek Polston
Derek Polston

does he need and explanation? I didn't see anyone bitch when they were wearing Hilary Clinton mask in 08?

RodeosDontLikeObama
RodeosDontLikeObama

I'm not especially offended by what happened, but I understand how since its a tax-payer funded event I get it why its inappropriate.

"And that's why Ficken decided to step down as president, he says.

"His thought process was, the association has always been a bunch of gentlemen...committed to the sport of rodeo. It's never been a forum for political statements, never been a forum for racism," Watkins says."

However, I have been to private rodeos before (Sikeston bootheel rodeo) and the jokes were nothing but Anti-Obama jokes (which I again dont have a problem with) so I am not sure how well his comment stands up.

Ronald Snyder
Ronald Snyder

At least he has dignity to pass the torch and take the heat off of the position .

SnobbyBoner
SnobbyBoner

I was there adn he was so funny I hope he takes the show on the road.. clown obama is more accurate anyway than president, since he sucks so bad and looks like a clown most of the time with all the silly stuff that comes out of that boys mouth

alan265
alan265

@Rachel Davidson Actually the Roceo above was not sponsered by the PRCA but the MRCA. And the rodeo was payed for by moneys the state fair make each year. Of course state fair events get some moneys at times from taxpayers but no direct money from the US government was used for putting on this rodeo. Also all moneys to put on the NFR at Las Vegas is totally funded by the PRCA and their corproate sponsers with NO money from the taxpayer.

alan265
alan265

@Rachel Davidson You are right there Rachel

warson
warson

@Steve Froemel  It is a state fair and receives government funding.  It also represents MIssouri as a state.  I'm sure the other rodeos weren't state fairs...

mojobullet
mojobullet

@RodeosDontLikeObama And that is where the problem is.  You and your circle have a problem w/ Pres. Obama and think that the general public feels the same way you do.  Majority of the general public arent racist, just you and your circle. 

mojobullet
mojobullet

@SnobbyBoner People that feel the way you do are the real detriment to this country and you r a racist AssClown yourself.  The children there shouldnt have been subjected to that racist sideshow that you called a rodeo.  


alan265
alan265

Also Rachel the Cowtown Rodeo you may be refering to is in NJ.

warson
warson

@mojobullet @RodeosDontLikeObama   I don't think they are inherently racist, but it is much easier to voice an opinion with like company.  Rodeos are a country-boy and girl thing, so they are mainly attended by Republicans from the farms.  State fairs draw people from the rest of the state and other states, and that is why people were offended.  You can disagree with the president without dressing him up as a clown at a rodeo-with government funds.

Peter
Peter

Mojo.  You sure are quick to draw that race card.  Used it all up yet?  Can't stand criticism of Obama but laugh at criticism of Bush?  Your two faces must be very interesting looking.

mojobullet
mojobullet

@Peter No, I am a law abiding US Army servicemember who proudly protects you, sir.  Unfortunately, people like you only see the color of my skin as you see the color of the POTUS' skin.  As I stated before in previous posts, if you bothered to read those, I would feel the same way if it was Pres. Bush's life who was threatened.  Would you like to speak w/ my Caucasian g/f and the majority of my diverse coworkers and friends to ask if I ever, if at all, play the race card?

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