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'Clown School' kicks off Elks Rodeo & Parade festivities

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Posted at 8:03 PM, May 30, 2023

A rodeo 'Clown School' came to Santa Maria on Tuesday to usher in the week of the Elks Rodeo & Parade festivities.

Attendees and participants were treated to a special rodeo curriculum that included a barrel roll and barrel race, sitting on horses, roping and lassoing, as well as learning about tractors.

Prior to that, participants were outfitted with the proper attire: large jeans, suspenders, and, like any good clown school: the option to get their face painted.

"What I want people to walk away with is: An idea of what our sport is really like on the ground level, from the fundamental stages all the way up to what the crowd experiences," Matt Merritt told KSBY, who is one of the rodeo clowns. "... People can throw darts, they can bass fish, they can cornhole — you can do all these things that you see on ESPN 2. But it's really hard to be a part of [the rodeo], and we're offering that here."

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"I think it's a good thing to be nervous," Matt Merritt said. "Because that's a thrill you don't get when you brush your teeth or when you tie your shoes. So, if you're getting those butterflies and you're nervous, that means something cool is about to happen."

The clowns aren't just there for fun and games, though. These members of the team are highly experienced in all things rodeo and will be there during the real event to help the contestants when riding horses or bulls.

"I think people like dangerous stuff — obviously sky diving exists," Merritt said to KSBY in response to a question about the thrill of rodeo. "I tell my kids when they're nervous or worried because of what I do for a living that, I think it's a good thing to be nervous. Because that's a thrill you don't get when you brush your teeth or when you tie your shoes. So, if you're getting those butterflies and you're nervous, that means something cool is about to happen."

According to the Santa Maria Times, this was the first clown school since before the pandemic.

The Elks Rodeo & Parade runs June 1 through June 4. The PRCA Rodeo Performance runs all four days. The first one is Thursday, June 1 at 7 p.m.