Cody clown family guaranteed to put smile on your face
CODY, Wyo. (AP) — Sometimes when a clown is in full face paint, it’s difficult to tell whether he is smiling for real underneath.
But no doubt, Sid McFarland was grinning loudly on the recent July evening he was acting up on the Stampede Arena dirt.
For one night only — Sid McFarland, 66, rodeo clown, his son Trent, 37, and grandsons, Cody, 4, Ryder, 2 were together during Cody Nite Rodeo.
The family act was a hoot. A sweet one, for sure.
“That’s the cutest thing I ever saw in my life,” said announcer Zane Parker of the little boys in red hats, chaps and blue shirts clapping along with dad and grandpa during the youth calf scramble.
Sid The Clown is from Montgomery, Alabama, and first appeared at a Cody rodeo 44 years ago. He did regular gigs over the years, several summers in a row at one time, and also sporadically.
Between the face paint, a wig (sometimes green), farmer’s overalls with suspenders, large, colorful hats and multicolored, non-matching sneakers that should be distributed by Nike for their uniqueness, no one would guess his profession as maitre d’hotel.
During one of those summers, Trent was born in Cody. The McFarlands did clown acts together elsewhere before Trent grew into going out on his own. But this was a first, the only time they performed together in Cody. Trent happened to be driving west for a rodeo in California and paused with wife Wendy and their boys in Cody.
“He watched me many times in Cody,” Sid said.
A long time had passed since Sid and Trent did a duet.
“I’m so used to doing my routine,” Trent said. “It’s been quite a few years. I’m looking forward to how they go together.”
Dad’s first show in Cody was in 1974. Before that he rode bulls.
“The bulls were riding me more than I was riding them,” Sid said.
He stepped in as a clown for the first time at a rodeo in Selma, Alabama in 1969, for $25.
“I probably looked more like Frankenstein,” he said of his early get-up.
After breaking an arm on a bull in Madison Square Garden, he decided clowning would produce a more reliable paycheck.
About 25 years ago, in Selma, the same place Sid started, Trent, then 13, clowned with him for the first time.
Here and there, dressed as the second coming of Bozo, laughing through their face paint, they teamed up.
Sid was the official clown at the Nite Rodeo and Trent was his guest, courtesy of stock contractor Maury Tate.
Rodeo clowns banter with the public address announcer, interact with crowds, tell jokes like a stand-up comedian and try not to get run over by bulls or bucking horses after riders are thrown.
Sid is old-school, a throw-back to Vaudeville in his jokes about men and women. Trent is more topical.
However, rodeo clowns follow a cardinal rule of staying away from religion and partisan politics, though Washington, D.C. is fair game.
Sid’s trademark phrase to excite a crowd that usually is comprised of a majority of fans not knowledgeable about rodeo is to prompt them after a notable time by saying, “And the crowd goes wild!”
On this night, instead Trent chimed in with dad’s signature remark.
Their routine was not so much a doubleheader as complementary. Sid was out there alone at times and then Trent.
Playing to Everyman, during bull riding clowns act as if they are cowards.
Sid told the crowd he was the “backup bullfighter,” way back against a fence. Trent hunkered down in the barrel. As one bull zipped past he dropped out of sight. Was it because he was scared?
“I was down there Facebooking,” Trent said.
Afterward, it was tough to determine who was more exhilarated, father or son.
“I was so proud,” Sid said.
“Awesome,” Trent said. “I had a blast. It was a dream come true.”
Cody and Ryder were probably asleep by the time the performance ended. But some day they will gaze at family photos and smile. Just the way everyone else did in the arena.
Information from: The Cody Enterprise, http://www.codyenterprise.com