Experience in the ring helps clown

Posted 5/16/09

Even after 30 years in the arena fighting bulls, he still gets butterflies in his stomach. The only change is now he is able to teach them to fly in …

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Experience in the ring helps clown

Posted

Even after 30 years in the arena fighting bulls, he still gets butterflies in his stomach. The only change is now he is able to teach them to fly in formation.

Bennie “Bob” Patrick is the Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo clown and this year will be his seventh entertaining the crowds during the rodeos.

Growing up around rodeos, eventually ending up face-to-face fighting bulls in an arena was a natural step for him. At the age of 16 he was approached by an older bull fighter, a person who protects the cowboys during bull riding, who asked him if he would like to hit the road for a couple weeks touring other rodeos. Patrick could not refuse and after learning the ropes from veteran bull fighters he was hooked with one goal in mind.

“I want to be a good ambassador of Jesus Christ and the sport of rodeo,” he said.

Patrick started out in bull fighting and eventually evolved into the comedy aspect working as a clown. He said the comedy comes naturally to him, but it is work. He tries to have new material every year including jokes that relate to the town the rodeo is taking place in or local and national issues like the swine flu or gas prices.

“A lot of what I say is directed to myself and my family,” he said. “You know the normal mother-in-law stuff and jokes about my wife.”

Patrick has traveled all across the country in places such as Texas, Utah, Illinois, Wyoming and Minnesota. But in his opinion, the Elizabeth Stampede is a small rodeo above the rest.

“Elizabeth puts on a phenomenal rodeo and one thing that impresses me is the committees’ involvement and how well organized it is,” he said.

He said he appreciates the hospitality given to the competitors in the rodeo and believes the Elizabeth Stampede Association runs the rodeo for all the right reasons.

“They have ethics and integrity and it’s not like they are financially benefiting from the Stampede,” he said. “They want to give back to the community.”

Patrick teaches bull fighting and clown clinics. After having his ear ripped off, his ankle broken and more than a dozen broken ribs, he definitely has the experience. He said one of the most important things bull fighters and clowns need to do is be in good physical shape by exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. He also tells his students to expect injuries.

“It’s not a question of if you’re going to get hurt, it’s a question of when and how severe,” he said. “Bull fighting is just like any other professional sport. There is risk of injury.”

Catch Patrick in action at the 2009 Elizabeth Stampede on June 5-7 at Casey Jones Arena 4189 Highway 86 in Elizabeth. For more information on the rodeo visit www.elizabethstampede.com.

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