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Rodeo Clown with Obama Mask at State Fair Could Win Sedalia 2013 Person of the Year

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Photo Courtesy of Thomas Gessling
Could Tuffy the Clown be Sedalia's Person of the Year?
Move over, Pope Francis. Tuffy the Clown is about to be Sedalia's 2013 person of the year.

KIX 105.7 FM Morning DJ Rob Edwards in Sedalia was inspired by Time's annual tribute to an influential newsmaker to design a similar award for the person who's made the biggest impact on the town.

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Why Tuffy, Missouri's "Racist Rodeo Clown," Thought About Giving Up, Working at Walmart

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Tuffy the Clown says he was never the man behind the President Barack Obama mask.
Thomas "Tuffy" Gessling has survived breaking 127 bones, having his jaw wired shut 52 times and being paralyzed for six hours -- all for the love of being a rodeo clown.

But even the career of this twenty-year rodeo veteran couldn't survive the national uproar after video of a clown wearing a Barack Obama mask at the Missouri State Fair went viral.

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Tuffy the Clown Speaks Out: I Was Not in the Obama Mask at the Missouri State Fair

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Courtesy of Perry Beam
The mask of President Barack Obama that caused so much controversy at the Missouri State Fair.
Tuffy the Clown wants his life back.

The rodeo clown's mask of President Barack Obama drew worldwide attention and criticism at the Missouri State Fair in August, but Thomas Gessling says it's time to set the record straight:

He was never the man in the mask.

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Missouri State Fair: Boonville School District Backs Superintendent, Announcer Mark Ficken

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Courtesy of Perry Beam
Update below: Mark Ficken, the announcer at the center of the Missouri State Fair rodeo scandal, did nothing wrong during the controversial Obama clown performance.

That is according to the Boonville School District, which is today releasing findings of its investigation into Ficken, who is the district's superintendent.

"The determination in the investigation was pretty all-encompassing," Ficken's attorney Albert Watkins tells Daily RFT. "He did not make any inappropriate statements."

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Tuffy Gessling The Clown May Get Talent Agent, "Overwhelmed" by Support After MO State Fair

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via Facebook / Tuffy Gessling
Tuffy Gessling, the local rodeo clown at the center of the Missouri State Fair Obama mask scandal, now has more than 80,500 fans on Facebook -- and the time is right to capitalize on that audience.

So says Collin Hughes, a Las Vegas man who created the hugely popular "Support Tuffy Gessling" Facebook page and has stayed in regular contact with the performer since the story got steady national media attention earlier this month.

"He wants to be able to take the talents he has and not be known as the Obama clown or anything like that, but as a talented rodeo clown," Hughes tells Daily RFT. "He wants to do what he enjoys."

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Missouri State Fair: After Rodeo Clown Obama Scandal, Pols Say Investigation Must Continue

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Courtesy of Perry Beam
Rodeo clown with Obama mask.
The Missouri State Fair is over -- but concerns over the infamous rodeo clown performance are not.

The fair ended on Sunday after a full week of nonstop media coverage -- coming from all over the country -- about a clown who put on an Obama mask and performed a skit involving a bull chasing and running down the president. The crowd reportedly loved it, but at least one attendee was very offended and his account of the event, along with his photos and videos, spread virally after the stunt. Part of the outrage, which came from both Democrats and Republicans, stems from the fact that the fair is a taxpayer-funded, government-run event where critics say there should be no political commentary -- and especially no mockery that references any sort of violence.

Some Missouri lawmakers, who have been vocal since the controversy erupted, say they plan to continue investigating how this happened in the first place. That effort will include closely scrutinizing the state budget for the fair.

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Tuffy Gessling The Clown Gets Support From Texas Rep., Glenn Beck, Many Online Fans

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via Facebook
Tuffy Gessling, the rodeo clown at the center of the Missouri State Fair controversy, has developed a large online following, as we noted earlier this week. Turns out, his celebrity was only just beginning and has since skyrocketed -- in the last few days earning him praise from high-profile pundits and politicians across the country.

In addition to his massive following of supporters on Facebook -- on his own personal pages and on a fast-growing "Support Tuffy Gessling, Professional Rodeo Entertainer" fan page -- Gessling has gotten love from a congressman in Texas and, unsurprisingly, Glenn Beck.

At the very least, his celebrity showcases how quickly a local story can spread -- and how the controversy at the Missouri State Fair is one that gets folks on both sides of the issue very riled up. The NAACP, for example, is calling for multiple federal investigations.

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Missouri State Fair Scandal: Boonville Schools to Hire Investigator, NAACP Wants DOJ Action

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Courtesy of Perry Beam
Rodeo clown with Obama mask.
It's been four days since the controversial performance of a Missouri State Fair rodeo clown dressed as Obama -- but the condemning statements and the calls for investigations continue to roll in.

Yesterday we reported that Mark Ficken, the announcer during the stunt who alleges he was not behind the act, resigned as president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association. Ficken, his attorney says, is trying to focus his energy on his real job as superintendent of the Boonville School District.

School officials, however, now say they are in the process of hiring an outside investigator to determine if any district employees were "involved in the inappropriate conduct." Meanwhile, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is calling for federal investigations into the actions at the fair on Saturday.

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

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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.

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Missouri State Fair Clown Tuffy Gessling Gets Huge Online Following After Obama Mask Stunt

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via Facebook
Tuffy Gessling.
Tuffy Gessling, the rodeo clown who put on an Obama mask at the Missouri State Fair and delivered a performance that has sparked a national outcry, has developed a large following of online defenders from all over the country. As of last night, Gessling has added about 500 new Facebook friends on his personal page, a number that is steadily growing as his story continues to go viral.

"Keep your head up. God's got this!" says one new fan. "Hey man I stand behind you 100% brother keep doin what you do. If I was putting on a rodeo or bullriding I'd hire you in a bit for my gigs," says another.

"God bless you Tuffy Gessling you never disappoint. I support you 100%," says a third. "Awesome at what u do. I'll stand up for ya. Screw the government," says a fourth.

More testimonials below...including from a large "Support Tuffy" Facebook page.

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