Photo provided by Jameson Hsieh shows clown wearing mask intended to look like President Obama at Missouri State Fair
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A clown wearing a President Obama mask
appeared at a Missouri State Fair rodeo this weekend and the announcer
asked the enthusiastic spectators if they wanted to see "Obama run down
by a bull."
The antics led the state's second highest-ranking
official, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, to denounce the performance in a tweet
Sunday. He said it was "disrespectful" to the president.
"We are better than this," the Republican tweeted.
Fair officials said the show was "inappropriate" and "does not reflect
the opinions or standards" of the fair. "We strive to be a family
friendly event and regret that Saturday's rodeo badly missed that mark,"
they said in a statement Sunday.
It wasn't clear if any action will be taken against the performers.
Beam was among the spectators Saturday in Sedalia. He said "everybody
screamed" and "just went wild" as the announcer talked about having the
bull run down the clown with the Obama mask.
"It was at that point
I began to feel a sense of fear. It was that level of enthusiasm,"
Beam, a 48-year-old musician from Higginsville, said Sunday, referring
to the reaction from the crowd that filled the fair's grandstand.
said another clown ran up to the one wearing the Obama mask, pretended
to tickle him and played with the lips on the mask. After about 15
minutes into the performance, the masked clown had to leave after a bull
got too close, Beam said.
Beam was at the rodeo with his wife and
a student they were hosting from Taiwan. He said they were having a
good time until the end of the rodeo.
"It was the usual until the
very end at bull riding," he said. "As they were bringing the bulls into
the chute and prepping them ... they bring out what looks like a dummy.
The announcer says 'Here's our Obama dummy, or our dummy of Obama.
mentioned the president's name, I don't know, 100 times. It was
sickening," Beam said. "It was feeling like some kind of Klan rally
you'd see on TV."
Officials with the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy
Association, the organization that coordinated the rodeo, did not return
phone calls seeking comment Sunday.
After Beam and his family
returned home, he posted a photo of the clown in the Obama mask on his
Facebook page. The photo and the posting were then promoted online by a
blog, Showmeprogress.com, which elicited a huge response Sunday on
Scott Holste, spokesman for Missouri's Democratic Gov.
Jay Nixon, said Sunday in an e-mail that Nixon "agrees that the
performance was disrespectful and offensive, and does not reflect the
values of Missourians or the State Fair."
Beam, who grew up
attending the State Fair and attends the fair just about every year,
said he has never seen anything like the Obama mask display, which he
felt was inappropriate for a state-sanctioned event that receives state
"This isn't the Republican Missouri State Fair," Beam
said. "It was cruel. It was disturbing. I'm still sick to my stomach
over it. ... I'm standing here with a mixed-race family. My wife's from
Taiwan, and so was the student (his family was hosting). I've never seen
anything so blatantly racist in my life.
"If an old country boy picks up on something like that, imagine what a person of color would think."